Lamb: an Easter crowd-pleaser

There are no words, only superlatives. Lamb has always been my favourite meat and I thought it would make a fitting tribute to celebrate Britain’s new season lamb in the run up to the Easter period.

Aside from being intensely flavoursome and economical I find that lamb lends itself to so many uses in the kitchen. It works well cubed and marinated in olive oil and spices, rolled into meatballs or burgers and gently fried or simply served with a minty pesto sauce. The strength of the meat also lends itself to punchier flavours like anchovy, mint and a whole range of different spices. If you’re having a lamb joint as part of a old-fashioned Sunday roast, don’t feel pressured into demolishing the whole thing in one day; lamb is particularly good, if not better, eaten cold the day after either as a sandwich filling or in a salad.

The recipes below should give you some inspiration for cooking with either a roasting joint or with ground lamb.

Roast lamb shoulder with garlic, herbs, vegetables, new potatoes and tahini dressing

Whenever I have a joint of meat I like it best served alongside a mountain of chunky roasted vegetables.

Vegetables in roasting dish

Oven roasted vegetables

This makes a good rustic dish, with sliced garlic nestled into small slits in the shoulder joint alongside fresh sprigs of rosemary. Try rubbing it with ground cumin before roasting it for an extra kick.

Lamb shoulder joint

The addition of the tahini dressing, composed of tahini (sesame paste) and yoghurt, gives the dish a silky, nutty finish. You can use a whole bulb of garlic; dividing four cloves for stuffing the meat with the remainder tossed into the roasting tin.

Note on cooking time: 3.45 – 4 hours

Ingredients

  • 1 shoulder of lamb weighing 2.5 kg
  • 1 garlic bulb
  • 1 small bunch of rosemary
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 carrots, cut into large chunks
  • 1 courgette, roughly chopped
  • 1 parsnip, roughly chopped
  • 1 red onion, cut into quarters
  • 1 litre beef or lamb stock
  • 500g new potatoes, halved

for the tahini dressing

  • 4 tbsp tahini paste
  • 200ml natural yoghurt
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

Directions

  • Remove the lamb from the fridge 1 hr before roasting.
  • Using a sharp pointed knife, make small incisions all over the outside of the meat.  
  • Peel 4 garlic cloves, slice them in finely and place into each incision. Do the same with the sprigs of rosemary too.
  • Pre-heat oven to 190C.
  • Heat a large frying pan, add a little oil and brown the lamb all over (unfortunately this process was too messy to photograph!). Remove from the pan and set aside. 
  • Meanwhile, scatter the carrot, onion, parsnip, courgette, new potatoes, parsley and the remaining garlic and rosemary in a large roasting dish, pour in the stock, then place the lamb on top of the vegetables.
  • Roast the lamb joint for about 1 hour 45 mins. Turn the joint halfway through the cooking time.
  • Turn the heat down to 150C, cover the roasting dish with foil and place back in the oven for a further 2 hours.

To make the tahini dressing

  • Combine the tahini with the yoghurt and lemon juice in a bowl and mix thoroughly using a whisk or spoon. Set aside. 
  • Remove the lamb from the dish and place on a plate. Cover with the foil and rest the joint.
  • While the lamb is resting, make the gravy. Pour all the stock from the tin through a sieve into a saucepan to remove all the vegetables and herbs. This stock should be rich, slightly thick and have a great lamb flavour.
  • Reduce it a little on the hob if you feel you want to concentrate the flavour, skimming off any fat that comes to the surface.
  • Using a serrated carving knife carve the lamb into slices.
  • Serve the lamb with the gravy, potatoes, vegetables and tahini dressing.

Lamb burgers

Shaped into nice round patties with plenty of gorgeous toppings. Try these burgers out on the barbecue for the best results. If you are looking for a middle eastern twist on lamb meatballs then Felicity Cloake’s Lamb koftes are a thing to behold.

Lamb burger with mint and rosemary

Ingredients (makes 2 large patties)

  • 500g ground lamb mince
  • 2 tsp dry whole coriander
  • 2 tsp dry whole cumin seeds
  • 1 clove garlic, finely grated
  • 1 small onion, finely grated
  • 1 handful mint, finely chopped
  • 2 slices of brown bread, soaked in water
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  • Squeeze the water out of the bread and together with all the other ingredients, place it in a mixing bowl.
  • Gently dry fry the coriander seeds and cumin for 2 minutes over a medium heat, then grind together in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder.
  • Gently mix everything together and form it into thick patties/burgers.
  • Heat your griddle pan or barbecue until it is smoking hot and grill the burgers to perfection.
  • (optional) Garnish with sliced red onion, tomato and lettuce leaves.
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