Monday, January 11, 2010

Traditional Roast Lamb with Roast Potatoes & Leeks in White Sauce

Lamb is not exactly a stranger to my table, but more often than not it'll be a shoulder that ends up gracing it rather than other cuts. There's something about a shoulder's combination of flavour, price and overall ease of cooking that hits the spot for me. But the other day at the butchers the legs of lamb looked too good to overlook, so I had to give one of them a try.

I usually like my lamb well done, and that's great for shoulder, but it's not really a great way to cook leg in my opinion. Leg doesn't have the fat content of the shoulder, so it's all too easy to create something dry and not so palatable when roasting a leg for a long time - generally speaking you're better off aiming for something pinker. That was my plan this Sunday, so after consulting the usual battery of cookbooks I decided on half an hour hot (220ºC) and then 15 mins per pound cool (160ºC)  for my 5 lb leg of (very well hung) Lamb. Nothing too special about this one - just coated in a very light layer of olive oil, well seasoned with salt & pepper and resting on 3 good sprigs of rosemary and a few cloves of garlic.

The meat out of the wrapping

The meat ready for the oven

As I was aiming for something very traditional this time around I decided to serve this with really crunchy roast potatoes and leeks in white sauce, and old favourite that I've grown up with. This time around I even got to use some of my Dad's leeks from Essex, as I managed to bring some back from there after Christmas. I braise the leeks just in butter for a good hour or so on a very low heat to get them really tender. Then I sprinkle in some flour and let that cook a little, before adding milk, salt & black pepper, and cooking until it thickens up - probably another 15 mins or so. This time around a little left over double cream went in as well, just to give that extra special something.

For the potatoes I reckon the secret it to get them really dry before they go in the hot oil/fat. I always parboil when I'm doing 'proper' roast potatoes, and do this well ahead of when they need to go in so that they can steam and dry out. A good shake in the colander is enough to give you a rough texture to pick up the fat - I normally use beef dripping, but didn't have any today, so used some of the fat from the lamb pan which was lightly flavoured with the rosemary and garlic from there. Ten minutes in the hot oven first gets the oil good and hot, then in go the potatoes (carefully!), a few turns to cover and then in for about an hour, depending how well browned you like them.

Parboiling potatoes

Finally there's the gravy to make. I rested this leg for half an hour in the end, to ensure it would be nice and juicy, and whilst it was sitting resting deglazed the pan with some wine and stock and cooked down the juices with a little flour to thicken.

Making gravy

Preparing the plates

All in all pretty happy with how this turned out. The potatoes & lamb were probably a little over done for my tastes, but lovely all the same. That's the price you have to pay, though, for nipping down the pub for a swift pint whilst your Sunday roast cooks :-)

Finished dish

P.S. These videos were all shot with my new Nexus One phone from Google - not bad I think, better quality than my previous phone that's for sure.


Velva said...

I enjoy lamb too. However, it has not graced my table often enough as well.
I roast potatoes quite often, and it has never occurred to me to par boil them before roasting. I think this is a great idea. I need to start doing that too.

P.S. You have a great blog. Would you be interested in doing a guest post on my blog? If so, let me know.

Anonymous said...

I'm preparing a roast tomorrow for my partners birthday, would you mind emailing me this recipe so I can cook from it instead of the web?

Not sure how to send you my email without getting hounded with spam-hackers!!


Rich said...

Hi T,

Glad you like the post - bit tricky to send you the recipe though, as I don't really have one. I tend to cook from experience, combining lots of different ideas into one dish, rather than following a printed sheet of instructions. That's why my blog is a bit random I guess.

Nice idea to prepare this for your partner. I guess the biggest question is how do they like their lamb cooked - I know people can get quite passionate about this, it seems to be one of those meats that people can love or hate depending how well it's cooked. Of course this time of year it'll be mostly spring lamb, and that tends to have a lighter flavour so I think is better off cooked less.

If you follow the recipe timing, i.e. 30 minutes hot and then 15 minutes per pound after that, that should do you. You might want to knock the 30 minutes down to 20 minutes if it's not a particularly large leg, and if you really do want it rare then use 13 minutes per pound instead of 15. Biggest caveat of all though is let it rest after cooking. Just turn the oven off when the time is up, open the door and leave it ajar so that the heat can slowly ease down, and leave the meat for 20 minutes or so to rest. That's the way to get a lovely juicy roast. If you need to make gravy in the roasting tray (always a good idea) just take the meat off and pop in onto something else. I often put it on my carving board and then put that back in the oven ready and waiting. One more thing - I have a fan oven, so these timing are only good for that. If you don't then make sure you add at least another 10% onto all the cooking times, maybe as much as 20% - depends on your oven I'm afraid.

Good luck - hope it goes well,


P.S. Did you catch my roasting tips page? That might be worth a glance over as well.


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