A leg of fresh lamb, roasted to perfection. Lamb has a distinctive flavour that sets it apart from all the other farm animals, and in springtime when it is fresh and beautifully roasted it as satisfying as any meat dish you could place on the table.
I try to serve at least one leg of lamb each spring to my friends. And great taste is guaranteed when you roast it with rosemary, garlic and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. The aroma emanating from the stove while it cooks offers a foretaste, and the excitement starts well before the guests are gathered at the dinner table
1 leg of lamb (5 to 7 pounds)
4 cloves of garlic
Pinch of salt and pepper
4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 cups of water
1 stick of celery
1 cup mushrooms
1 tablespoon black currant jam
Let’s start with the gravy. As with all good stocks we start with the basics: chopped onion, celery and carrot; add 1 cup of water to this and simmer gently. After about one-half hour add to this the chopped mushrooms, red wine, black currant jam and another 1 cup of water. Again simmer gently.
This process may seem time consuming but really it is not time wasted. The goal is to reduce the stock but at the same time enhance the flavours. Finally, strain the liquid and set it aside for the baking tin.
To prepare your lamb, simply cut a little fat off. Not too much as you want to keep the leg in its own fat. Peel and slice the garlic (not too thinly). Using a sharp blade, pierce the skin of the lamb and insert one slice of garlic; repeat these two moves until all of the garlic has been placed inside the body of the lamb.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper and lay the rosemary on top. Cover with foil and place in the oven at 325 F. For a perfect medium-rare roast cook for 15 to 20 minutes per pound.
Once the lamb has been cooked to your liking, remove it from the roasting pan and place it on a serving platter, covering so all the juices remain. Place the roasting pan on the stove. With the element on a high setting, add the prepared stock to the drippings, stirring continuously to mix. Then add corn starch (remember when mixing corn starch add a little cold water first to keep it from lumping in the gravy). When the gravy is the consistency you want, sieve it into a gravy boat. Slice the lamb across the top to serve.
You can eat this with almost any vegetable or side dish. I usually serve lamb with fresh-cooked vegetables and duchess potatoes. Never forget that with lamb you must always have fresh mint sauce. The mint enhances the flavour of the roast, and in fact adds a flavour bonus to all lamb dishes.
Ian Leatt, general manager of Pegasus Publications, left a job as a trained chef in Jersey, the Channel Islands, a dozen years ago to settle in Canada.