Traditional Lamb for an Easter Feast

There’s something about the smell of gently roasting lamb in the oven, that can transport one right back to a moment in time. My mother never liked lamb much, so my best memory of lamb was one exeat from boarding school; horizontal rain lashing the windows and grey skies for miles. A friend had brought me home for the weekend and leg of lamb was on the menu. The achingly green fields outside glowed almost luminous after a dose of sunshine, and shaky-legged lambs pranced bravely around the fields. It was just after Easter, when British lamb is at its best – although purportedly Welsh lamb is in fact the most superior. My friend’s mother deftly spiked the lamb with a sharp knife and stuffed generous sprigs of fresh rosemary into the holes along with fat cloves of garlic, keeping up a constant stream of chit chat peppered with the occasional question about school and “how was I getting on?” I’d never felt so homesick. Later that morning, the house began to fill with the unmistakable aroma of roasting lamb. We were sent out on a bracing walk – “put on your Barbour jackets and get out for some fresh air girls!” – and told to be back for lunch. Being teenagers, a walk meant a cigarette behind the woodshed and a short perambulation around the nearest field kicking at cow pats and feeling awkward when the subject of boys came up.

Fast forward a few years (yes, just a few!) and that smell and flavour of lamb has always stayed with me. A warming reminder of companionship and kindness. Just like the UK we have our renowned sources of lamb, and with Welsh blood running through the veins of the Dyers, it’s no wonder that The Well Hung Butcher’s lamb is so good. In the fertile lands of Timau, the free-range lambs are fed on a mixture of grasses as well as legumes, resulting in a particularly tasty flavour of meat. Once butchered, the meat is hung for five days, which adds tenderness to the taste profile. It’s important to choose carefully when it comes to any meat, but particularly lamb. My favourite way to enjoy lamb is to take a whole leg, lovingly roast it in the oven and serve up with a full complement of potatoes and veggies. Just like the Brits. This year, I’ll be enjoying lamb with my family, on the edge of a small dam called Chemususu near Eldama Ravine. We’ll have to have an Easter egg hunt of course, and my husband will make traditional onion skin eggs, which we’ll then jarp with. Jarping is a curious word for fighting with eggs – make sure they are hard boiled, then you eat the inside (carefully) and then turn the egg around so you ‘fight’ with the remaining shell. No jabbing is allowed, it’s more about using pressure to break your contestants egg.

 

INGREDIENTS

1 large leg of The Well Hung Butcher lamb
6 Rosemary sprigs
3 cloves of garlic
2 pieces of preserved lemon
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried mint
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp maple syrup
Salt and pepper
To serve: potatoes and green beans

RECIPE

 Defrost the leg of lamb, and bring it up to room temperature. Take a small but sharp knife and score the meat in about seven places, and then stuff each hole with rosemary and garlic (cut the garlic in half lengthways if you need to). Make a marinade with chopped preserved lemon, maple syrup, dried oregano and dried mint and some olive oil. Place the lamb on a rack and put in the fridge overnight. The next day, take the lamb out of the fridge at least one hour before you are planning to cook it.

Boulangere potatoes: Slice the potatoes and onions thinly, and layer in a rectangle on the baking tray. Place the lamb on its rack above the potatoes – this way the juices from the lamb will drip into the potatoes as they cook. If you don’t have a rack, then just place the lamb on top of the potatoes.

New potatoes: take the whole potatoes and rub them all over with olive oil and some salt. Place on the tray with the lamb and roast.

Roast at 180 degrees c for 1.5 hrs.

Serve with blanched green beans sprinkled with chopped roasted pistachios and grated lemon zest. Pair with a glass of red wine. We recommend Hesketh Small Parcels Barossa Shiraz.

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