That staple of Sunday lunching gets a Mediterranean makeover with my Greek-style roast lamb. Easily able to forgo my British roots of lamb with mint sauce, this recipe makes use of bold flavours and an enjoyably tactile approach to prepping some of the finest slow food around.
Redolent of rosemary, lemon and a shameless amount of garlic, my Greek-style roast lamb makes for a great crowd-pleaser when hosting a lengthy lunch or dinner party. Stuffing the lamb with brown anchovy fillets lends a savoury meatiness to the roast – the anchovies melt away, leaving only an umami tang without the fishy flavour – while the liquid that collects in the bottom of the roasting pan is worth its weight in gold. Just don’t forget crusty bread for mopping it all up. Served simply with herby potatoes, carrots and candy beets roasted with cumin seeds and a fine red wine like Groote Post’s Salt of the Earth Shiraz-based red blend, this is one spread that I never tire of cooking and consuming.
Best marinaded the day before and set to slow-cook early on in the day, my recipe uses an electric fan oven to gently roast the lamb over 3 to 4 hours, ensuring that the meat is fork-tender inside whilst retaining a deliciously crisp skin. The fat content in lamb keeps things juicy, but I would also advise basting the lamb with the marinade a few times during the cooking process. Undisputedly the best part of this recipe is the fact that it yields a very generous amount – any lucky leftovers are best had stuffed into warmed flatbread and topped with lashings of garlicky tzatziki.
Greek-style Roast Lamb
Prep time: 30 mins /Cook time: 3.5 hours /Serves: 6-8
You will need:
- 1.5kg leg of lamb
- 200ml olive oil
- 10 brown anchovy fillets
- 15-20 Kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
- 10 sprigs of rosemary
- 5 lemons
- 1 head of garlic
- 500ml dry white wine
- 50ml balsamic vinegar
- Coarse ground sea salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 220°C. Place the leg of lamb on a large chopping board and use a sharp knife to slice little pockets into the meat. Peel and thickly slice about half of the garlic head and pull the leaves off half of the rosemary sprigs. Make a little bouquet of an anchovy fillet, a few rosemary leaves and garlic slices and use your fingers to push the mixture into each of the pockets in the lamb. Repeat until all the pockets have been filled. Crush the remaining garlic and combine with the olive oil, olives and balsamic vinegar. Juice and zest all the lemons and add to the marinade, keeping the lemon peel. Season the marinade to taste with salt and black pepper.
Arrange this and the remaining rosemary on the bottom of a large roasting pan. Lower the lamb on to this grid and pour over the marinade. Season the lamb with salt and pepper and pour in the white wine. Cover the lamb with foil and roast at 220°C for the first half-hour before turning the oven down to 150°C and roasting for a further 2.5 hours. Remove the foil and ramp up the oven to 220°C and caramelize the lamb for 20 – 30 minutes, adding in more liquid (white wine or water) if required. When cooked, the lamb should fall apart at the lightest touch from a fork.