Because I live 5 minutes walk from the best fishmonger, greengrocer, butcher and baker you could wish for…
(OK, 25 minutes if you add in all the pauses for chat, banter and gossip)
…I hardly ever freeze food…
(OK, 45 minutes if you add in the swift pint at the New Rose)
Nevertheless, for the last 2 weeks I’ve had a leg of lamb in the freezer. How it ended up there is a long story involving love, death and coming of age, so we’ll come back to it another day. With the promise of my lovely neighbours, Pat and Pete, coming over for Sunday lunch, it was defrosting time. I took the lamb out of the freezer and put it in the fridge on Saturday, so that it could de-frost nice and slowly, which was exactly how I intended to cook it. Usually when I slow cook lamb I do so with plenty of liquid and cover it for the duration, but this time I decided to combine traditional English roasting with a North African flavour and it worked out really well. So here it is:
You will need:
A leg of lamb.
3 cloves of garlic – thinly sliced
2 tsp smoked paprika powder
2 tsp hot paprika powder
2 tsp sea salt
For the liquid
1 whole lemon with 4 whole cloves stuck into the skin
1 stick cinnamon
1 small red chilli
1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
To prepare the liquid
Place the clove-stabbed lemon, cinnamon stick, chilli, coriander seeds, black peppercorns into the smallest saucepan you have. Add enough water to barely cover the lemon. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the liquid and keep it in a jug. Discard all the spices but keep the lemon and take the opportunity to use it when you cook red cabbage, which goes really well with the lamb. (In the red cabbage recipe from May, instead of using grated lemon rind, place this lemon on top of the cabbage throughout the cooking process and take it out before serving.)
Preheat the oven to 160ºC/325ºF/Gas mark 3.
To prepare the lamb:
Place the leg of lamb, fatty side up, into a roasting dish. Make lots of small incisions in the fat and insert thinly-sliced garlic. In a small bowl, mix together the 2 types of paprika with the salt and a small amount of water to make a thick paste. Spread this over the exposed surfaces of the leg of lamb.
Place this in the oven for about 30 minutes. Then, carefully pour about 1 cup of the lemony, spicy liquid over the meat. You don’t want to wash the marinade off, so make sure that you take it easy. Return the meat to the oven for another 2 hours, every 30 minutes adding a little more liquid to keep the top moist. Take it out of the oven, cover with foil and leave to stand for about 20 minutes before carving and serving.