Lamb is a delightful meat at any time of the year, but somehow during the spring months it seems even better – even if it has been bought frozen.
I like to use leg of lamb for a roast dinner and always get my butcher to bone it for me. While a leg with the bone in looks good, when it comes to carving it, is a whole different matter. Somehow, over the years, we have lost the ability (and desire) to carve meat properly. A leg of lamb without the bone in (perna de Borrego sem osso) is easy to handle, whether you are roasting in the traditional style or barbecuing it.
You will need a roasting tin or similar receptacle large enough to take the piece of meat flat, lined with aluminium foil. Take your piece of uncooked meat and rub olive oil into the fat side. Turn lamb over and spread with a little oil, lots of sliced fresh garlic and the grated zest of two oranges. Squeeze the juice of the oranges over the meat and cover. Leave for one hour in a cool place. Remove the covering and add half a bottle of red wine and whatever fresh herbs you have to the roasting tin and leave for another couple of hours or as long as you can before cooking.
There are many schools of thought on the best method of cooking lamb.
Oven cooking 1: A favourite of mine is to place the whole dish, including all the marinade, into a slow oven (120ºC) and just leave it for around four hours. You will not get pink meat, but you will enjoy succulent lamb with a fantastic flavour. If you like gravy, then you have all the makings in the roasting tin – mash down the garlic, reduce the liquid to a syrup and pour through a sieve – what could be simpler?
Oven cooking 2: In the bottom of a roasting pan, place a mixture of yellow and red peppers, carrots cut into 5cm pieces, halved courgettes and onions cut into quarters, along with quartered par boiled potatoes. Place the marinated lamb on top of the vegetables and roast either long and slow as above or at 180ºC-200ºC for 30 minutes per kilo of weight. As always, it very much depends on your oven, but this should give you a perfectly cooked piece of meat.
BBQ: Drain the marinade from the meat and place directly on to the hot grill of your barbecue. Leave for five minutes – do not jiggle it around, it needs to seal. After five minutes turn it over and allow this side to seal. At the same time, apply some of the marinade liquor. Do not turn the meat too often during cooking and use a skewer to check the ‘doneness’. At the same time place vegetables of your choice onto squares of aluminium foil along with olive oil and salt and pepper and if required a sprinkling of fresh herb leaves. Make a parcel of the foil and place on the BBQ. The vegetables will steam/broil and will be delicious.