Cooking Tips

Five hacks you need to know to make the most heavenly roast lamb

01 April 2021 - 06:00
Traditionally roast lamb is served medium with a touch of pink.
Traditionally roast lamb is served medium with a touch of pink.
Image: 123RF/freeskyline

Roast leg of lamb is a real treat and a pricey one at that, so the last thing you want to do is dry it out or undercook it.

Follow these tips to make for a juicy, perfectly cooked roast every time, plus take the guesswork out of buying enough meat to serve your guests:

BUYING A LEG OF LAMB TO ROAST

1. Allow 250g of lamb on the bone (uncooked weight) per person and bulk up the meal with plenty of delish roast potatoes and other seasonal veg.

2. When buying a lamb roast you can choose between a short cut without the shank, or a  long cut with the shank. I prefer the roast with the shank because who can resist those delectable nibbly knuckles?

If the shank is not cracked ask your butcher to do it so you can share the knuckles, if you must, and more importantly because it makes carving easier.

PREPPING THE ROAST

3. If the lamb is frozen allow it to defrost overnight in the fridge and remove it from the fridge an hour before roasting to bring it back to room temperature. Doing so will help the meat reach the right internal temperature quicker than it would if it were cold, reducing the roasting time required and helping to prevent it from overcooking.

This doesn't mean you should let the meat lie out of the fridge for hours in a hot climate; I work on taking it out about 30-40 minutes before cooking.

4. Garlic and fresh rosemary are two flavours that marry well with lamb — and my favourites too. The fresh rosemary (don’t use dried) has a way of cutting the richness and melding with the garlic making for an aromatic feast.

To allow both flavours to permeate the meat, cut slits all over the lamb with a sharp knife and insert a slice of a garlic clove and a couple of rosemary fronds in each cut.

If you aren't a fan of garlic, leave it out or add just a slice here and there with the rosemary in each slit.

ROASTING THE LAMB

5. Traditionally roast lamb is served medium with a touch of pink.

To cook it medium, place the lamb in a roasting pan with the fat side up. Season with salt and pepper and roast at 170°C for 20-25 minutes per 500g plus an additional 20 minutes.

For a more well-done roast, cook the lamb for 25-30 minutes per 500g plus an additional 20 minutes.

Once you've removed the lamb from the oven, cover it with foil and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before slicing, retaining the pan juices for the gravy.