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Tom Kitchin: Roast Lamb for Easter

Tom Kitchin. Picture: Contributed

Tom Kitchin. Picture: Contributed

  • by TOM KITCHIN
 

I’M RELISHING the fact that the clocks have gone back and the days are getting lighter, brighter and longer. Those changes also mean changes in the produce we receive from our suppliers and the colour on the plate always feels so vibrant and invigorating after a long winter.

Easter is a lovely time of year – not only in my kitchen as the joys of spring begin to arrive, but it’s also a perfect excuse to gather family and friends to enjoy a leisurely lunch or dinner together.

For us, this Easter will be a little different. Last year we were busy opening our gastro pub The Scran & Scallie while also waiting for our twin boys to be born, so Easter seemed to go by in a flash!

I’d like to say it will be a little quieter and calmer this year, but I’m not quite sure that will be true with the twins now moving about and the older two out of school and nursery for a few weeks. But we’re still planning to make the most of the occasion and create a big feast with all the family.

I make a point of creating a big meal at Easter time and always try to cook a different roast each year for everyone to tuck into and savour. This year, local lamb is on our menu at home – it’s one of my favourite roasts.

A leg of lamb studded with fresh rosemary and lots of garlic tastes absolutely stunning. You can’t get much more British than this roast leg of lamb – it’s a real spring classic. This recipe is also pretty simple to do well if you get your hands on some top quality lamb from your local butcher. Leg of lamb is probably one of the most popular cuts in this country and you can buy it from your butcher as a whole or in half, and either with the bone or without. It’s the perfect Easter centrepiece to the family dinner table.

When it comes to cooking the lamb, I would always suggest you roast it just long enough so it is still slightly pink and juicy when you carve it. I would also recommend you cook it at a lower temperature for longer as the flavour is all the better.

Whatever you’re planning to cook this Easter weekend, make sure you relish some of the delights that come with this spring season.

ROASTED LEG OF LAMB

• 1.2kg boned and rolled leg of lamb

• 5 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

• Handful of rosemary sprigs, leaves only, roughly chopped

• 1 tsp ground cumin

• 1 tsp fennel seeds

• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

• Olive oil

Method

Place the lamb on a board. In a bowl, mix together the garlic, rosemary, cumin and fennel seeds. Using a sharp knife, pierce little slits all over the surface of the lamb. Using your fingers, push the rosemary and spice mixture into the cuts. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Put to one side.

Heat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4. Heat a heavy-based ovenproof pan over a medium-high heat and add a little olive oil. Add the lamb joint and colour on all sides, allowing 3-4 minutes. Transfer to the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Turn the setting down to 160C/Gas Mark 3. Roast the meat for a further 20 minutes. Take the lamb out of the oven and rest in a warm place for 10 minutes.

BOULANGÈRE POTATOES

• Olive oil for cooking

• 1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced

• 1 leek, trimmed, washed and thinly sliced

• 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced

• 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

• 1 tsp fennel seeds

• 1 tsp thyme leaves

• 300ml lamb stock or chicken stock

• 50g butter

• 700g potatoes

• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Heat the oven to 160C/Gas Mark 2-3. Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat and add a good drizzle of olive oil. Add the onion, leek, fennel and garlic with the fennel seeds and half of the thyme leaves. Sweat for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, bring the stock to the boil in a saucepan and add the rest of the thyme leaves. Grease a shallow baking dish with butter.

Slice the potatoes thinly, using a mandoline or a very sharp knife. Layer the potato slices in the baking dish, overlapping them and alternating the layers with the onion and fennel mixture. Season in between the layers with salt and pepper. Finish with a layer of potato slices. Pour over the hot stock and dot with the remaining butter. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove the foil and cook for another 30 minutes, or until the top is crisp and golden and the potatoes are cooked through. Leave to stand for a few minutes before serving.

 

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