Slow-roasted leg of lamb is a rustic dish ideally suited to showing off a full-bodied Shiraz.
This is the perfect lazy-day recipe when you have more important things to think about than watching the clock to gauge precise roasting time.
This recipe is great for lamb that’s past the first flush of youth. Think sizeable legs of 2kg or more, from an animal our mothers used to call mutton. The meat is tastier, richer, and ready to take on the bold flavours of olive oil, garlic, and lemon, and fistfuls of fresh herbs. You’ll need a lot of liquid to keep things moist. My choice is a combination of fulsome white wine and beef stock. These niftily balance the flavour of the meat and accompanying flavourants, creating a counter-point to the Shiraz you’re going to serve with it. If you use red wine for the cooking, it all gets a bit much.
Towards the end, small onions are dunked into the gravy, adding flavour and eye-appeal, not to mention the perfect partner for the meaty main event. Other veggies can be added as well, such as new potatoes, infant carrots and cauliflower.
Slow-Roasted Leg of Lamb
1 large, fat leg of lamb (about 2 kg)
sea salt and milled black pepper
2 heads of garlic
2-3 lemons, sliced
generous amounts of rosemary, oregano and thyme sprigs
cup olive oil
1 cup full-bodied, dry white wine
1 cup beef stock
32 pickling onions, peeled
Heat the oven to 120C. Trim the lamb of excess fat (leave on a goodly amount for flavour and succulence) and season with a little salt and a generous amount of pepper. Cut the garlic heads in half through the middles and place them in a roaster to fit the meat snugly. Add the lemon slices and rosemary, oregano and thyme sprigs. Nestle the meat into this bed of bliss, and pour over the olive oil, wine and stock. Seal the roaster securely with a couple of large sheets of oiled foil (the oil will prevent the meat from sticking to the foil and ruining the look of your creation).
Roast the meat for about six hours until meltingly tender. The magic will happen whether or not you intervene, though nervous cooks might like to open the parcel and turn the meat occasionally. Add the onions (and other vegetables of your choice) to the sauce about 30 minutes before the cooking’s done.
Llift the lamb and vegetables onto a warm serving platter and tent with foil while finishing the gravy. Strain the cooking liquid into a saucepan, skim off the excess fat and boil uncovered until reduced and slightly syrupy. Eat up!