With the winter months firmly upon us, nothing beats a soul warming roast to lift the spirits, and this hassle free, spiced lamb roast is my preferred method when it comes cooking a leg of lamb, roasted low and slow. Save the med-rare cooking for the cuts that show it off best, rack, backstraps, rump. Leg (and shoulder) should be unctuous, falling off the bone, rich with it’s meaty lamb flavour, nothing beats it.
1 Tablespoon Cumin seeds
1 Tablespoon Coriander seed
1 Tablespoon Dried Thyme
1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme
1 Tablespoon Salt (kosher)
1 Teaspoon Sweet Paprika
2 Garlic cloves
Grind all the ingredients (apart from the olive oil) in a mortar and pestle. When everything has been thoroughly crushed and ground together, add enough olive oil to form a thick paste.
Preheat the oven to 140ºC. Slice up a few onions and layer on the bottom of a roasting pan. Remove the lamb from the fridge and coat with the spice rub, place it on the bed of sliced onion. Leave the lamb out for about half an hour, which should be plenty of time for the oven to preheat, and take the chill off the meat (never cook meat straight from the fridge).
Half an hour later, put the lamb in the oven (uncovered) for 30 minutes, giving the spice mix a bit of direct heat to release its flavour. Remove the roasting pan from the oven, pour in 250ml of red wine, cover tightly with foil and return it to the oven for four and a half hours, basting a couple of times throughout the cooking.
When the long wait is up take the pan out of the oven and set aside to rest. Turn the oven up to 200ºC. Carefully remove the leg from the pan to a cutting board, and cover. Strain the liquid from the pan into a saucepan. Again, carefully transfer the leg from the board to the pan and roast for 15 minutes in the hot oven, giving it a nice golden crust.
Meanwhile, reduce the cooking liquid, but not too much, just enough to have a good strong sauce. Thicken it with a little arrowroot dissolved in water, do not bring the liquid to a boil again as it will become loose. I like arrowroot as it thickens without adding flavour, and it doesn't make the liquid cloudy, but if you prefer you could go down the traditional flour gravy method.
The meat should have a good golden crust and be falling off the bone tender, but not falling apart. It's perfect for a cold night, served on a parsnip & potato mash made with lots and lots of cream.