Search through this website and you won’t find too much mention of the word ‘lamb'; I’m here, in part, to set this straight. I love lamb, I often argue it’s my favourite meat but it absolutely must be treated well – a poor cut or badly cooked joint can be fatty and flakey. What we need is a foolproof method of cooking the thing: Enter H Blumenthal, stage left.
Since I started following Heston’s receipes there have been several additions to my kitchen cupboards, none as important as the meat thermometer. This is the key to this dish and happens to be the major difference between the recipe in Heston Blumenthal at Home and the recipe that Waitrose have been pushing this week in their adverts and in-store. In the book the directions are to cook the meat at 80 celcius until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 55 celcius whereas the Waitrose guidelines are more in line with what you see on shop-bought meat and refer to minutes-per-kilogramme. I have cooked many, many joints of meat according to the instructions on the packaging; these include lamb, beef, chicken, turkey, pork, gammon etc. Without exception, following the instructions on the packaging resulted in overcooked meat, even when the guides specify ‘medium’ or ‘rare’ targets.
Recipe: Leg of Lamb with Anchovy, Rosemary and Garlic served with Pommes Boulangère and Glazed Carrots
Specialist equipment: Digital probe meat thermometer
Specialist ingredients: None
Time: 5 hours (4 hours of this is passive cooking time)
Part 1: Roast lamb with anchovy, rosemary and garlic
There is not much unusual in this technique; brown the meat in a frying pan, season and throw it in the oven. The method of making small incisions in the meat and stuffing with rosemary and garlic is nothing new however I have never heard of anchovies going in. Anyone other than Heston who suggests putting fish in my lamb is likely to be met with a slap.
We used a 2.2KG joint of meat and it took four hours to reach 55C. The downside of cooking to a temperature is judging the time it takes to cook. A month before I made Christmas dinner, for example, I cooked a ‘test turkey’ in order to know how long it would take on the day. I am now building up a little spreadsheet of cooking times.
There was little risk in cooking times running wildly over here as the recipe did state a 2KG leg would take about four hours.
Once 55C had been reached it was out of the oven and wrapped in foil for 30 minutes to rest.
Oh, I hope you appreciate the French trimming of the bone here.
Part 2: Pommes Boulangère
Billed as the perfect accompaniment for roast lamb I decided to ditch the roast potatoes and go for these, primarily to match the photograph of the leg served on a bed of these things. Preparation was aided massively by my food processor; thinly slicing a kilo of potatoes in 30 seconds is something that justifies the £85 price tag of my Which? Best Buy Bosch machine.
After the slicing the assembly and cooking are fairly routine, you do need two ovens though. If you don’t have two ovens then I’m sure resting the lamb for a short while longer whilst the potatoes are cooking would be fine.
I recommend finishing them off under a grill for a few minutes just to brown the top and add a few crispy edges.
Part 3: Glazed Carrots
We’ve seen these before. As ever, a simply phenomenal side dish. The only downside is you are limited to how much you can make as they have to be spread over an even layer of a pan. Catering for more than 3-4 people is difficult. You will never want to eat a boiled carrot again.
As far as Heston’s recipes go, this is very easy as it involves no early preparation and minimal specialist equipment. I have roasted lamb many times and followed a variety of different methods; I have now roasted using Heston’s method twice now and the results are consistent and very good. The flesh is pink and, partly due to Heston’s suggested carving method, very tender. It is certainly my ‘go-to’ method of roasting lamb from now on.
The pommes boulangère are definitely a sound side for the lamb and there’s less scope for error than there is in the domain of the soggy or rock hard roast spud. However once you’ve cracked the roast potato it’s difficult to enjoy a roasted joint of meat without them.
Have you tried this recipe, or will you be cooking it this Easter? Do you think this might be the dish that finally converts Phil to the joys or lamb? Let us know in the comments section below.