I don’t know about anyone else, but Easter seems to have snuck up on me a bit this year. True, I have thought about it now and again, like when I have looked at other recipes and debated whether I should attempt dying eggs with my toddler, and I did manage to make hot cross buns a couple weeks ago. But even still, it seemed a shock to us as we realized at the weekend that Easter was less than a week away. Maybe it is also that I don’t have a huge number of food associations (other than hot cross buns) for Easter but I know for many ham or lamb are a traditional part of an Easter meal. Conveniently, we got a lovely leg of lamb joint in our recent meat delivery and with all this cold weather a good old roast lamb with lots of roast vegetables on the side was a perfect fit last night.
Roast lamb is probably one of my favorites, and I love that you can make it fairly simply – in fact it is best not to try to do too much to a leg joint – as I have here, and it will always be delicious. The only thing to watch is that you don’t overcook it as it will go dry. Personally I like it a bit pink but whether you go for a lot of pink or none at all, lamb has a great taste and a roast leg has that crowd appeal that makes it perfect for sharing with guests, such as for Easter or Passover. You can vary the sides to suit your taste and the weather, from lots of roast roots to scalloped potatoes or on the lighter end, salad, asparagus or other greens.
Here I decided to combine a couple of ideas and ways that we have enjoyed roast lamb – one being a pretty common and sure-fire winner of studding it with garlic and rosemary, the other being a simple lemon-honey-mustard glaze. Both add a gentle flavor that’s a delicious compliment to the lamb. The glaze helps make a nice little bit of gravy to go on top.
Cooking time can be a little tricky to say exactly as it depends on the size of the piece of lamb (I think generally when bigger, the time per pound is a little less), if bone in (will take longer or at least be more mixed in color) or boneless (cooks a little quicker), as well as your oven. A boneless leg is obviously easier to carve, but the bone is great to have after for making stock so that alone makes it worth having a bone-in leg for me. I have given some suggested times below, and temperatures to check for if you have a meat thermometer, based on various resources, including The Kitchn.
One other thing with lamb, as with most roasts, is it is worth having a larger piece than you need as leftovers are always good. Whether it’s a simple sandwich or something more extravagant – I will be sharing a recipe for leftover lamb on Sunday – it is always satisfying to make use of a leftover roast in a different way. It’s an easy meal, and one that is so satisfying and delicious, it shouldn’t just be reserved for this time of year.
- 1 x 2lb/900g leg of lamb joint bone in (boneless or larger joint fine, adjust rest of ingredients and cooking time accordingly)
- 1 tsp honey
- 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
Preheat oven to 325F/160C.
Make incisions into the fatty side of the lamb joint with a small sharp knife, evenly spaced over the top and side of the joint around 1-2in apart (3-5cm).
Mix together the honey, lemon, mustard and oil, pour it over the lamb then rub all over.
Peel the garlic and cut into long strips, around 6-8 per clove. Break the rosemary stem(s) in to approx 1in/2.5cm lengths (easiest to break the stem just above where the leaves sprout out so you get a little 'point') then stuff a piece of rosemary and a piece of garlic into each incision in the lamb.
Sprinkle a little salt over the lamb and roast for approx 20min per pound/450g for medium-rare (around 25min for medium, 15 for rare), although time may vary with your oven, size of leg and if boneless - for me, this time gave rare rather than medium rare. You can check with a thermometer (around 125F for rare, 130F for medium-rare, 135-140F for medium, 155-165F for well done).
After around 20-25 minutes, add a little water to the bottom of the dish (a couple of tablespoons) and repeat later if a larger leg joint.
Remove from the oven and allow to stand for around 10-15minutes before carving. Scrape any stickiness from the cooking dish and mix with the juice/water that should be left from cooking and pour over as a gravy. If you prefer thicker, you can add a little cornstarch/cornflour.