I sometimes think back upon a simpler time. When men were men who poured Solo down their sweaty chests. And women were women who seduced dapper white-suited gents by sitting on grass and eating chocolate that was by it’s very name and nature, flaky, yet managed to maintain the blinding whiteness of their dresses (before the days when you couldn’t answer your front door without fear of being harrassed by the Napisan man, I might add).
No matter how busy you were on a Sunday getting the spoky doke colour arrangement just right on your deadly treadly, or desperately scraping together another 20c after squeezing your Calippo a little too enthusiastically down the beach, you respected the golden rule…
Nothing came before a roast lamb dinner.
Although in that particular instance, my Dad would have said nothing comes before a roast lamb tea. I’m not quite sure when I transitioned from saying dinner and tea to saying lunch and dinner, but it has since resulted in some confusing conversations with Dad. The new buffet place in Geraldton agrees with my nomenclature, however, so perhaps that will win Dad over to my way of thinking.
There is something that feels quite grown-up about roasting your own enormous chunks of meat. It generally means you have either succeeded in producing a horde of small people, or are trusted by multiple friends and family members to safely feed them, or at the very least have the strength of character to commit to a monoprotein relationship for the rest of the week.
My go-to roast lamb recipe is a mish-mash of two Greek inspired recipes (Exhibit α, Exhibit β) I came across a couple of years ago when I started transitioning into a grownup and doing my own regular lamb roasts. I don’t actually measure anything out when I’m doing this, and I’m sure it’s different every time but it always tastes good so I’ll continue to keep my measuring implements safely free of lanolin. Please feel free to similarly throw caution to the wind, but hopefully you will find the following recipe a nice starting point.
Another thing worth mentioning – this works well for either lamb leg or shoulder. If I have a leg, I’ll cook it in the oven where I can keep an eagle eye on the internal temperature and pull the beasty out when it’s nudging up to medium. If I have a shoulder, I just bung the whole thing in the slow cooker and let it do its thing all afternoon. I’ll include additional notes for each below.
Greek inspired Roast Lamb dinner/tea
Serves: a veritable horde of Tom Cruise shunning types.
Time: preferably overnight to marinate, then around 2 hours cooking/resting.
- 1.5 – 2 kg lamb roast (I use either bone-in whole leg or bone-in shoulder, but you could use this marinade for any cut)
- 3-4 garlic cloves
- 2 brown onions
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 100 mL olive oil
- 2-3 Tb coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- 2-3 Tb coarsely chopped oregano (just use extra dried if you don’t have fresh)
- 2 tsp dried oregano (or just use more fresh if you want!)
- 3 tsp dried paprika
- 2 tsp salt flakes
- Few good turns of freshly cracked black pepper
- A few shakes of ground coriander and cumin, if you like – sometimes I add a little, sometimes I don’t
Day before (preferably, though can be immediately before if you’re desperate to get out of an impending date)
- Wash and dry the meat.
- Slice the garlic lengthwise, stab the roast all over with a little paring knife and insert a garlic slice into each stab-wound.
- Combine all marinade ingredients (no worries if you want to add more/less of anything!) and then cover the roast all over with the marinade. Cover or wrap it up and refrigerate – preferably overnight or at least for a few hours, but this can also be good right away if needs be.
Day of cooking – oven method (how I do my lamb leg)
- Preheat your oven to 170 degrees C.
- Thickly slice the two brown onions to make a nice oniony bed in your baking dish, then sit the roast on top. Cover with foil (I like to add a protective layer of baking paper first to ensure the foil doesn’t steal any lamb when I remove it) and place into the preheated oven. Roast for around 50 minutes.
- Remove the foil, increase to 180 degrees C and continue to roast until done to your liking. My last whole leg took another 50 minutes until I was happy with the internal temperature. I like my lamb cooked to between 62 to 71 degrees C, and generally aim to get the thickest part up to 62 degrees C before removing from the oven.
- Remove lamb from oven and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes before slicing and serving. Feel free to pick the delicious cripsy bits off as the cook’s bounty.
- While the lamb is resting, get the onion back into the oven to crisp it up.
Oven method – optional roast vegetable steps
- Roast brussel sprouts are amazing with this! Slice them in half lengthways and place around the lamb for the last 30 minutes of cooking. You can always crisp them up more with the onion if needs be.
- Add any roast root vegies to the oven for the last 30-40 minutes of cooking as well. I boil potatoes for 10 minutes first, then rough up the edges and add a mixture of olive oil, lemon zest and juice, paprika, salt and pepper before roasting them on a separate tray (because I add SO MANY brussel sprouts around the leg that I don’t have room for spuds there).
Day of cooking – slow cooked method (how I do my lamb shoulder)
- Saute the sliced onions and add to the slow cooker with a splash of water, then place the lamb shoulder on top.
- Turn onto low and cook for around 6-8 hours – depending on your slow cooker, this time can vary a lot(!!) but the shoulder is pretty forgiving.
- This bit is optional….
- Around an hour before serving time, crank up your oven to 200-220 degrees.
- Ladle out around half the liquid in the slow cooker, into an oven & freezer proof bowl. Place this (on a trivet) into your freezer.
- Half an hour before serving, place the roast on an oven tray and pop into the hot oven to crisp up the outside for 10 minutes or so, then remove and allow to rest.
- Remove the bowl from the freezer and retrieve the jus from underneath the solidified fat layer. You can use this as-is, or reduce it on the stove before serving.
- The solidified fat is delicious to cook vegies with. You can keep it in the fridge for another night if you don’t use it with this dish.
Slow cooker method – optional roast vegetable steps
- The fat that the shoulder releases during cooking is great to cook roast vegies with – you can just scoop some straight from the top but remember that you don’t want to be removing the lid from your slow cooker very often as it can significantly increase cooking times.
Low carb notes
- This is great served with roasted brussel sprouts and zucchini, some mashed cauliflower, and greens of your choosing. You can poke in a few roast carrots too, I reckon.