“A leg of lamb (about 2kg) is always a real treat for about 8 people, and I like to try different ways of enhancing its wonderful flavour.
On the whole, lamb is good nearly all year round, and although early spring lamb is lovely and tender, in my opinion it’s at its best around May, when the meat of the spring lamb has had time to develop flavour, character, texture and basically tastes like lamb should.
A leg of lamb should be soft to the touch and leave a slight indent when pressed. The skin should be dry, but not cracking or flaking. Ask your butcher to remove the bottom socket joint to make cooking and carving easier. ”
With a knife, follow the lamb bone down about 10–12cm (you are just making a ‘tunnel’ where you are cutting the meat away from the bone). Do this from the top end and the bottom end. Pierce the skin at an angle with a sharp pointed knife 6 or 8 times at random around the leg, then open up the incisions by poking your fingers down them to make a bit of space.
Pick the sage leaves and peel and chop the garlic. Pick and roughly chop the rosemary leaves.
Using a pestle and mortar, smash up half the sage with the garlic and 1 teaspoon of sea salt. When it’s pulped, squeeze in the lemon juice, add 2 tablespoons of oil, the other half of the sage and the rosemary.
Stuff the herb mixture into all the incisions and gaps you have made with the knife.
Slice the pancetta, then stuff deep into the gaps along the bone and the incisions. This gives a lovely fragrant flavour to the meat.
Put a little oil in a hot roasting tray (preferably a nice thick one), add the lamb, and roast, turning every 30 minutes until cooked.
Pink – 10 minutes for every 450g plus 20 minutes
Medium – 13 minutes for every 450g plus 20 minutes
Well-done – 20 minutes for every 450g plus 20 minutes
Always rest the meat for at least 10 minutes before carving.