Recipes | Roast leg of lamb with basil, pecorino, garlic and wine


Roast leg of lamb with basil, pecorino, garlic and wine

If you want to ring the changes on your Sunday roast try this delicious recipe from Diana Henry's brilliant new book From the Oven to the Table.

Diana writes: "This came about after I cooked a Greek dish that had a stuffing made from a Greek cheese (not unlike pecorino) and ground allspice. I’d never thought about a cheese stuffing for lamb before. So this is just something that came out of my kitchen for Sunday lunch one week: Italian ingredients, Greek-inspired.

serves 6–8

120g (4¼oz) pecorino cheese, finely grated

6 garlic cloves, finely grated

sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more if needed

leaves from a small bunch of basil, plus more to serve (optional)

1.8kg (4lb) leg of lamb

2 medium red onions, cut into wedges

600g (1lb 5oz) small waxy potatoes, scrubbed, then halved or quartered, depending on size

350g (12oz) red and yellow tomatoes, halved or quartered

250ml (9fl oz) white wine

Preheat the oven to 220°C fan (450°F), Gas Mark 8.

Put the cheese, garlic and some salt into a mortar and pound to a rough purée, gradually adding the olive oil. Tear the basil leaves, add them to the mortar and pound them, too.

Place the leg of lamb in a roasting tin. Make deep incisions all over it and push the paste from the mortar down into them. You can also loosen the meat around the bone to make a pocket and push the paste into that, too. Season all over and put into the oven.

Roast for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 180°C fan (375°F), Gas Mark 5. Add the onions, potatoes and tomatoes to the roasting tin, toss them in the fat in the pan, adding a little more oil if it’s needed to moisten them, then season and roast for a final 45 minutes, adding the wine after 20 minutes. The lamb will be pink. If you prefer it more well done, cook itfor a little longer.

Remove the lamb to a plate, cover with foil, insulate well (I use old towels or tea towels) and leave to rest for 15 minutes. If the potatoes are tender, cover them and keep warm in a low oven while the lamb rests; if they’re still a bit firm, increase the oven temperature to 200°C fan (410°F), Gas Mark 6½, return the vegetables to the oven, uncovered, and cook until they’re ready.

Serve the lamb with the potatoes, tomatoes and onions, scattered with a few basil leaves, if you like.

What to drink: Given the inspiration is Greek and the ingredients Italian I'd go for a Greek or an Italian wine - it could be white or red. For a Greek red look for an agiorgitiko or for a white, an assyrtiko. For an Italian red Chianti would actually go pretty well or a light Sicilian red such as frappato or nerello mascalese. Or almost any dry Italian white - I'd fancy a Greco di Tufo.

This recipe comes from From the Oven to the Table: Simple dishes that look after themselves by Diana Henry is published by Mitchell Beazley, £25.00, Photograph © Laura Edwards

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