Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Roast Lamb

Last weekend we bought a fantastic leg of lamb (on the bone). I had been craving a roast lamb for a while so since we had no plans I decided it was the perfect time to make it. Since we had a whole roast we decided to invite Scott’s parents over to enjoy it with us, rather than greedily keeping it all to ourselves (tempting as it was!).

Because we are in Canada and lucky enough to be having a ‘proper’ beautiful, sunny summer , I cooked the lamb in the oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes then finished it off on the BBQ (the charcoal barbecue) to get that unmistakable lovely smoky, barbecue flavour. The result was delicious – moist and tender, medium- rare meat, subtly flavoured with herbs and garlic with a deep smoky undertone.

The lamb was served with a rich red wine and redcurrant sauce, some new potatoes, asparagus and green beans and as we sat in the gazebo devouring our meal and sipping wine I couldn’t think of a better way to end the weekend – Sunday roasts are the best – however you cook them!

Dessert was courtesy of Carol, my mother-in-law, who brought a bag of perfectly ripe and juicy peaches and a bottle of Amaretto (sounds good just like that!) and made a delicious and easy dessert in no time. It was the perfect dessert to go with a casual Sunday roast and the whole meal a delicious and satisfying end to a relaxed weekend.


Sunday Roast in the Garden with Family

Mojito

Roast Leg of Lamb with red wine & redcurrant sauce (served with new potatoes, asparagus & green beans)

Peaches with Amaretto


Mojito

A classic summer cocktail, yet I had somehow forgotten how much I like it…..until I had one! The mint and lime makes it the most refreshing and light summer drink perfect for sipping on a hot day. Next time I won’t forget just how good they are!

Serves 1

Small handful of fresh mint leaves (approx. 10-12)
2 tsp sugar
1/2 lime, cut into wedges
1 part white rum (Bacardi)
3 parts soda water
Ice

In a tall glass mix the mint, sugar and lime together using a muddler, small rolling pin, wooden spoon or any other utensil that allows you to crush everything together so you get as much flavour as possible! Add the rum then fill the glass with ice and top with the soda water. Stir then sit back, relax and enjoy!


Roast Lamb with red wine & redcurrant sauce

For this recipe I covered the lamb with some finely chopped fresh herbs and lemon zest, and cut some little slits where I pressed in some shards of garlic and small rosemary sprigs. The herbs for the lamb came straight out of the garden so use whatever you can get your hands on, although rosemary and thyme are classic flavours for lamb and work amazingly well.

1 leg of lamb (ours was 2.2kg)
1 clove of garlic, thinly sliced into spiky shards
1 large sprig of rosemary
5 or 6 sprigs of thyme
1-2 sprigs of oregano
3 juniper berries, crushed (optional)
Zest of ½ lemon
Good pinch of Maldon sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp redcurrant jelly
Drizzle of olive oil

For the red wine & redcurrant sauce:

1 tbsp olive oil
Small knob of butter
½ onion, sliced
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
3 tbsp redcurrant jelly
150ml red wine
250ml lamb stock
3 juniper berries, crushed
Small sprig of rosemary
2-3 sprigs of thyme, plus an extra tsp
2 bay leaves
Salt & pepper
1 small knob of cold butter

Preheat the oven to 375F.

To prepare the leg of lamb, finely chop half of the rosemary leaves, thyme and oregano and put into a small bowl. Add the crushed juniper berries (if using), lemon zest, a good pinch of salt and pepper and mix well. Using a small knife cut about 12 little slits in the lamb and put a shard of garlic and a mini sprig of rosemary into each cut. Heat the redcurrant jelly until it has melted (I just popped it into the microwave for about 20 seconds) then brush it over the leg of lamb. Sprinkle over the herb mix and spread it all over so the lamb is evenly covered with all of the lovely flavours. Drizzle with a little olive oil and set aside until you are ready to cook the lamb.

Ok, so now for the technical part……I always tend to use a thermometer when cooking meat so I know it’s the right temperature and I don’t have to worry about it being over or undercooked. If you have one (and I definitely recommend them as a must-have kitchen gadget), then for medium-rare lamb you want it to be 145 degrees (140 for rare, 160 for medium and 170 degrees for well done). If you don’t have a thermometer then you want to cook the lamb for 20-25 minutes per lb. for medium-rare – for a 2.2kg lamb (as we had) that is roughly 1 hour and 40 minutes in a 375F oven.

As it turned out, I cooked the lamb in the oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes and then finished it off on the barbecue over indirect heat, so it took a bit longer than if you were just cooking it in the oven. Once the lamb is cooked to your liking, tent it with foil and leave to rest for at least 20 minutes, before carving into slices.

While the lamb is cooking make the red wine and redcurrant sauce. In a medium pan heat the oil with the butter then add the onion. Cook for roughly 5 minutes until the onions have softened but not coloured. Add the garlic and cook for another minute before adding the redcurrant jelly. Let it melt completely and start to simmer then add the wine. Reduce the wine a little then add the stock, juniper berries, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Allow to simmer away and reduce for as long as possible – at least 30 minutes. If it is starting to reduce too much, cover with a tight-fitting lid. When ready to serve the sauce, strain everything into a clean pan to remove the onion and all the herbs then whisk in the cold cube of butter and the tsp of thyme leaves. Serve at once with the lamb and enjoy.


Peaches with Amaretto

This recipe is courtesy of my mother-in-law Carol, who made this for us recently when they came round for a meal. She had a bowlful of fresh peaches needing eaten so brought them round and made this dessert for us in no time at all. It is so quick and easy and absolutely wonderful when you have juicy, ripe peaches.

If you can, cut up the peaches and let them soak in the liqueur while you eat your main course (this just lets the amaretto soak into them a little bit more). Sprinkle the nuts and biscuits over at the very last second so that they don’t go soggy.

6 ripe peaches
4 tbsp amaretto liqueur
4 tbsp sliced almonds
4 amaretti biscuits, crumbled
Greek yogurt with honey* to serve

Cut the peaches in half and remove the stones then cut each half into four wedges. Place in a shallow dish then pour over the amaretto liqueur. In a dry frying pan toast the almonds until golden brown, then put into a small bowl and add the crushed amaretti biscuits (you can crush them with your hands or bash them a few times with a rolling pin).

To serve, simply spoon some peaches onto each plate and sprinkle over the toasted almonds and amaretti crumbs, and then serve with a nice dollop of the honey Greek yogurt. Light, summery and delicious!

*You can either go for the easy option (as I did!) and buy some Greek yogurt that already has honey in it, or if you prefer add a spoonful or 2 of nice honey to some plain yogurt.

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