Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Mint & Rocket Pesto Roast Leg of Lamb

As I write this it's 22℃ outside, the sun is shining, the trees and shrubs are opening up their buds and spring is well and truly in the air. I’m not originally from Surrey but I have to say with each passing year I realise how lucky I am to have ended up here. We have some of the country’s most beautiful landscape on our doorstep and an abundance of walks to enjoy. 

Of course at this time of year the lamb is perfect, tender and widely available from a number of local suppliers, so it's the obvious choice for a special meal.This recipe really encapsulates the freshness of spring. The mint is just starting the poke through in the garden, the basil seedlings on my window sill are just beginning to uncurl and the grocers are full of fresh green spring vegetables and new potatoes. So for a light evening with meal with salad or shared with friends over a long Sunday lunch served with new potatoes and prosecco, this dish will really excite you. And exactly a week from now the British asparagus season officially opens, although to be fair it's been a long winter, so give them time. 

I tend to always use hazelnuts in my pesto nowadays as the quality of the pine nuts coming from China is sinking and I recently had a bout of pine mouth which was as disturbing as it was thankfully short lived! And of course you can always use parmesan rather than the slightly saltier pecorino. But why would you? I bloody love pecorino, and a good one is always worth the effort of seeking out. The times listed below assume the lamb is room temperature before cooking and will produce a perfect pink, succulent roast.  If you possess a meat probe/thermometer you want the central core of the meat to be 50C to produce a medium finish.

Mint and rocket pesto roast leg of lamb

Serves 4
  • 1kg half leg of lamb
  • 1 tbs sunflower oil for searing

For the pesto
  • 30g mint, roughly chopped
  • 30g basil, roughly chopped
  • 60g rocket, roughly chopped
  • 50g finely grated pecorino
  • 25g chopped hazlenuts
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 100 ml olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • juice of 1 lemon

  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/450F/Gas Mark 8.
  2. In a food processor add all the pesto ingredients except the olive oil and blitz until relatively smooth. Now add the oil glug by glug until you have a slightly wet paste. You may not need it all. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Season the lamb, heat the oil in a red hot frying pan and sear the lamb until golden brown on all sides. Place in a roasting pan and take a sharp knife to score a criss cross pattern lightly into the skin. Using your hand or a spoon smear half the pesto across the top of the meat and rub into the scores you have made.
  4. Place the roasting pan in your very hot oven for 15 mins, then turn the heat down to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 and cook for a further 15mins, remove from the oven and cover with the rest of the pesto. Then cook for a further 10-15 mins on the same heat. This will give you perfect medium lamb. If you don’t like it pink, add a further 15 mins onto your cooking time.
  5. Now remove the roast from the oven, cover with foil and rest for 30-40 mins.

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