Slow-Roast Leg of Lamb With Spicy Grape Gravy

This is my take on Mary Berry's superb recipe for slow-cooked shoulder of lamb. I agree with her that shoulder meat is sweeter, but I like to use the denser, leaner leg for this, from a more mature beast, packed with the extra flavour of longer grazing, or an extra-hardy mountain breed. Cumbrian Herdwick is perfect. If you are cooking for two or three, a half-leg takes 2½ hours.

I love the taste of fennel and lots of garlic with my lamb, and these are my additions. Mrs Berry's idea of anointing the joint with paprika is inspired, and resonates brilliantly with the spices in my grape jelly (find my recipe here).

Slow-Roast Leg of Lamb

Serves 4-6

  • 1 leg mature lamb or hogget, on the bone, about 2.5kg
  • 3 tbsp rosemary leaves finely chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp oil (I use local rapeseed but plain olive oil is fine)
  • 1 tsp paprika (unsmoked)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 English onions, sliced thickly
  • a bulb of fennel, cut into quarters or eighths
  • a head of garlic, halved
  • 1.2 litres lamb or vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 heaped teaspoon spiced grape jelly

Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7 (200°C Fan).

Combine the rosemary and paprika with the oil and season well with salt and pepper. Rub all over the lamb.

Place the sliced onions and fennel, along with the garlic in the base of a small roasting tin with a trivet for the lamb to sit on. Add the stock and roast in the oven for 30 minutes, or until well browned, then reduce the temperature to 160°C/325°F/Gas 3 (140°C Fan).

Cover the lamb with aluminium foil and continue to roast for 3 - 4 hours, basting regularly with the juices, until it is so tender that it comes away from the bone.

Remove the lamb from the tin and keep warm on a serving plate. The skin should be crisp and dark. Rest it while you make the gravy.

Skim the surface fat from the pan, saving two tablespoons of it in a saucepan. Strain the juices into a measuring jug and add enough boiling water to make 570ml of liquid. Heat the fat in the saucepan until hot. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Still over the heat, add the roasting juices and whisk until thickened and smooth.

Check the seasoning and stir in the jelly.

Serve in thick slices with roast potatoes or a vegetable gratin.

Janet Wynne Evans

Wine recommendations:

This would be beautiful with a Reserva Rioja, Châteauneuf-du-Pape or a spicy carignan, perhaps.

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