Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Old-Fashioned Roast Lamb and Vegetables With Gravy

Roast lamb was a staple of my childhood. Always cooked medium rare. Always served with roast vegetables. Always swimming in gravy. To me, this is a meal that feels to me like an embrace from my childhood, and this was definitely a week for embraces. Many of the people I care about are doing it tough in one way or another at the moment. The economy, health issues, and other problems, both big and small, have lent the week a very sombre feel. Like many others, I also have a sense of foreboding about what else is in store this year. I feel like we all should be bracing ourselves for more trouble (which is most unlike me; I am famously Pollyanna-ish most of the time). So scoop up your loved ones and sit down for a meal. Whether you are laughing or crying is up to you. What counts is who is sitting there with you.

This lamb roast is a mixture of ideas from three writers: Neil Perry, Stephanie Alexander and Donna Hay. I timed it with my new digital meat timer (!), to make sure it was just perfect. If you don't have a meat timer, lamb on the bone will take

PS The potatoes cooked on the rack alongside the lamb, but I pulled them out before I remembered to take a picture. So just pretend you can see them there at the back.

Classic Lamb Roast
1 leg of lamb, 2.5 kg
Bunch of rosemary
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup seed mustard
4 parsnips, peeled and halved lengthwise
4 carrots, peeled and halved lengthwise
4 onions, skin on, halved horizontally
4 potatoes, halved and tossed in some olive oil
1 tbl plain flour
1 tbl tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups of stock

Remove the lamb from the fridge two hours before cooking, season with salt and allow it to come to room temperature (Stephanie suggests only 30 mins for this step. I would aim for at least 30 mins). Rub lamb with olive oil.

Preheat oven to 220C. Place potatoes directly on the oven rack. Arrange remaining vegetables in a stove-proof baking tin filled with about 1 cm of water. Drizzle a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over the vegetables and water. Sit the lamb on the oven rack on a bed of the rosemary with the potatoes and the baking dish below it. After 30 mins, reduce the oven temperature to 200C. Meanwhile mix together the honey and mustard to make a glaze. Half an hour before the lamb is due to be ready, remove the lamb from the oven, brush the lamb with the glaze and then return to the oven. Continue cooking until lamb is ready.

For pink lamb, allow 10-15 mins of total cooking time per 500g. Medium lamb will take 15-20 mins per 500g and well done lamb will take 20-25 mins per 500g. If you have a thermometer, an internal temperature of 60C will give you perfect pink lamb.

Once cooked remove the lamb from the oven to rest (about 15-20 mins), covered in foil. Remove the vegetables to a serving platter and keep warm (I usually urn off the oven, leave the door a little ajar and sit them in there). The baking dish that held the vegetables can now be used to make gravy. Tip off any excess fat, leaving just a little with all the nice crispy brown bits. Place baking tin over medium heat and scatter in flour. Stir and cook for two mins, scraping up as many charred or dark bits on your baking dish as possible (they have all the flaour). Add the tomato paste and wine. Stir again then slowly add the stock until you have a smooth gravy. Bring to the boil. Add water to thin it if it is too thick. Check seasonings and strain into a serving jug.

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