Story of a leg (of lamb)

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Roast aubergine ratatouille to go with the lamb

I’m very keen on leftovers – as you’ll know if you’ve read my new(ish) cookbook, Bill’s Kitchen. And especially when cooking a prime joint like a leg of lamb, I’m keen that none of it should go to waste. So here is the story of our most recent leg of lamb.

Last year we had a joint venture with our neighbours, Jo and Graham, to have four sheep on our paddock. The deal was that they looked after the lambs/sheep, we (being un-skilled and lazy townies) provided the land and we split the costs both of buying the young lambs and of slaughter and butchery. So our paddock was kept naturally mowed through the summer and late last autumn the butchered lamb was delivered and we filled our freezer with the delicious bounty.

In celebration of Easter and having a full family at home I decided it was a good moment to roast a leg. Since we had friends coming to join us one of whom was a vegetarian I served the lamb with roast aubergine ratatouille and then offered fried halloumi with the ratatouille as an alternative to the lamb. Inevitably the meat-eaters wanted the halloumi as well as the lamb but we made sure that the veggie got priority.

So here how’s every morsel of the leg was eaten

Day 1:
The main event: eight people had roast lamb with red wine jus, ratatouille, sliced rosemary potatoes, fried halloumi

Day 2:
At least one person simply had some re-heated leftovers

Day 3:
I made lamb, tamarind and lentil soup for at least 8 people which was consumed over the next couple of days

Day 4:
With the last of the best bits of lamb I made a noodle stir fry for four of us

All in all that’s 20 people served from one leg of lamb which I think is pretty good going. I’ll leave the recipe for the stir-fry to your imagination and the recipe for the ratatouille is on page 109 of Bill’s Kitchen. But here’s a summary of what I did for the roast, the potatoes and the soup – and they were  all very delicious.

Anchovy and garlic roast lamb with red wine jus

1 large leg of lamb

2 big sprigs rosemary, stripped and finely chopped
10 anchovies in oil, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbs olive oil

500ml red wine

  1. Make a paste of the anchovies, garlic, rosemary and oil. Then with the sharp end of a knife I made about 15 holes in the lamb about 2cm across and 4cm deep and stuffed the paste into them.
  2. Roast the lamb at 220C (I used the top right oven of our Aga) for 20 minutes. Add the wine to the bottom of the roasting tin and return to the hot oven. After 5 minutes turn the oven down to 170C (I used the bottom right oven of our Aga) and continue roasting for 45 minutes.
  3. Turn the oven right down to 110C (I used the top left oven of our Aga) and let it continue to cook very slowly for a further hour. This resulted in lamb that was just a little pink in the middle and extremely juicy. Pour the red wine jus onto the sliced lamb and rosemary potatoes.


Sliced rosemary potatoes

2.5kg maris piper potatoes, sliced finely
75ml olive oil
2 tsp salt
2 tbs finely-chopped fresh rosemary leaves – about one very big sprig, with the woody bits removed

Toss everything together and then spread out on the largest baking tray that will fit into your oven. Cook at 170C for about 90 minutes turning them every so often so the edge bits don’t burn. Turn the oven temperature up to 220C for the final 10 minutes to brown the top.

Lamb, tamarind and lentil soup

1 large onion, roughly chopped
700g carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
left over chicken fat and juices (from a previous meal) – or use sunflower oil1 tsp chilli paste
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp salt

150g red lentils
250g potatoes, diced small
700ml water

200ml leftover red wine jus
2 tbs tomato paste
1 tbs tamarind paste

350g  less perfect bits of leftover roast lamb, diced very small

  1. In a large lidded pan sweat the onion and carrot in the fat, chilli paste, turmeric and salt for about 30-40 minutes until they are very soft.
  2. Add the lentils, potatoes and water and bring to the boil, then simmer with the lid on for about 30 minutes until the lentils and potatoes are very soft. Add the jus, tomato paste and tamarind and whizz thoroughly with a hand-held blender.
  3. Add the diced lamb and season the soup to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Re-heat so the leftover lamb is piping hot and serve.