When it comes to lamb you have two options – either à point cooking to give a soft pink end roast, or long slow cooking for meat that falls off the bone – and which option you choose largely depends on the cut of meat being roasted.
Shoulder, shanks, leg, and breast benefit from long, slow roasting at a low temperature, as they are the harder working parts of the animal, resulting in tougher muscle fibres.
Neck or leg fillet, loin, or a trimmed rack require more precise roasting, as these are the most tender cuts that will become tough if over-cooked.
Below are recipes for a roast leg and a boned lamb double-loin, both of which require slightly different methods of roasting. A single loin can be used, just half the cooking time.
- Method :
- METHOD 1 - for a double loin of lamb. Preheat oven to 180°C.
- Toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a dry pan until they release their aromas - 3-4 minutes, typically. Transfer to a pestle and mortar (or spice grinder) and work to a coarse grind.
- Spread the mustard over the lamb loin, covering it entirely.
- Place the toasted, crushed spices onto a plate, add the picked thyme, a good grinding of pepper and a large pinch of sea salt, and roll the mustard-coated lamb in the mixture until well coated.
- In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil until shimmering and gently place the coated lamb into the pan. Sear for 1 minute, turn, and repeat until the lamb is seared all over. Transfer to a roasting pan or baking tray.
- Place in the preheated oven for 40-60 minutes, depending on how well done you like your lamb: 40-45 minutes for pink, 45-50 minutes for very slightly pink, and up to an hour for well done.
- Remove, cover with foil, and rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
- METHOD 2 - for a leg of lamb. Preheat oven to 200°C.
- Heat a very large pan (big enough to hold the lamb leg), rub 1 tbsp of the olive oil on the lamb leg, and sear it all over in the pan. It should be coloured all over, but not cooked - about 2 minutes each side.
- Remove the lamb and de-glaze the pan with the red wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to clean away any residue from the lamb. Pour this into the bottom of a large roasting tin.
- Slice the onions into thick rings and arrange over the bottom of the roasting tin. Cut the celery sticks in half and add them. Cut the two carrots lengthways and put them on top of the onions too.
- Make a few cuts - approx. 1” deep - into the lamb with the tip of a sharp knife and push a slice of garlic into each one, along with a little rosemary. Place the leftover rosemary on top of the onions, celery and carrots in the roasting tin.
- Pour the remaining olive oil over the lamb leg, sprinkle with the lemon zest, salt and pepper, and place in the oven for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, reduce the heat to 180°C. Roast for approx. 1 hour 20 minutes for slightly pink meat, or anything up to 2 hours for a more well-done roast. Alternatively, reduce the heat to 160°C rather than 180°C, cover with a piece of aluminium foil, and roast for 3-3 1⁄2 hours for meat that will fall off the bone.
- Allow to rest for 45 minutes to 1 hour before carving, covered with a tent of tin foil.
- The cooking and resting juices can be strained from the pan, reduced slightly, and served as an accompanying jus to the meat.