I’m ashamed to say I don’t use this fabulous cut of meat enough. When treated correctly, this inexpensive piece of meat becomes meltingly tender with an incredibly rich flavour. I’ve used classic flavours to compliment the lamb, and if you follow my blog regularly you’ll appreciate my love of herbs, which I use in abundance. Thyme, rosemary, garlic, lemon and anchovies are the perfect combination when it comes to lamb.
The bed of onions the lamb is roasted on reduces down to create almost a condiment in itself along with a beautiful jus, and I’ve chosen to pair it with a whole roasted head of cauliflower with a dijon, lemon and parmesan dressing and some roasted baby potatoes. I like to prep everything the night before which makes this an ideal dish if you’re having people over for dinner.
I really do recommend cooking the lamb in advance, it presents a lot better and is easier to handle. If you want it to look like mine, cook it earlier in the day or the day before, wrapping very tightly in cling film and twisting the ends to maintain a cylinder shape. When refrigerated and completely cold, the meat cuts easily into beautifully neat discs that I then flash over hot coals (or in a hot pan) to crisp up the outside. This means only the vegetables need to be cooked on the day and the sauce and onions reheated.
Serves 4 depending on appetites
For the lamb
1 lamb breast, deboned (about 1kg)
2 heaped tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 heaped tsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 anchovies, mashed to a paste
Zest of a lemon
Cracked black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
3 large onions or 4 small, sliced
A few sprigs each of rosemary and thyme
A few bay leaves
300ml lamb stock (white wine, vegetable stock or just water can be substituted here)
For the cauliflower and potatoes
Mix together 1 tbsp dijon mustard, 1 tbsp olive oil, the juice of a lemon, 2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan and a tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley. Spread over a trimmed head of cauliflower. You’re ready to go. For the potatoes, toss in a little olive oil and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper
Equipment – Cooking/butchers string and a heavy casserole dish with a lid that will fit the lamb snugly.
This recipe works so well on the BBQ. I set up for indirect cooking at around 300˚f/150˚c, but using a regular domestic oven and a frying pan works well too, you just won’t get that beautiful flavour from the charcoal.
Mix together the thyme, rosemary, garlic, anchovies, lemon zest and a good pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Add the olive oil and mix to a paste.
More often than not, if purchasing from the supermarket, your lamb breast will come pre-rolled, but your local butcher is your best bet here. If rolled already, snip the butchers string and lay it on a board, meaty side up (what would have been the bone side). Spread the herby paste all over the meat side of the breast and rub in really well. Roll up the breast and secure with 4 or 5 lengths of cooking/butchers string.
Place the sliced onions in the casserole dish, pour over the stock and place the rosemary, thyme and bay sprigs on top.
Brown the lamb on all sides over direct heat. When nicely coloured, pop the lamb on top of the onions and herbs and cook uncovered for 2 hours at 300˚f/150˚c.
Place the lid on the casserole dish and continue to cook for another hour and a half or until the lamb is very tender when pierced with a skewer. If cooking everything on the same day, I usually stick the cauliflower and potatoes on with the lamb about an hour or so toward the end of the cook. Adjust timings depending on what vegetables you’re using.
Remove the lamb and wrap tightly in cling film to form a cylinder and refrigerate. Place a colander over a bowl and strain the onions, reserving the juices and discarding the herbs, and set both aside in the fridge. The cauliflower and potatoes also reheat well if you want to save yourself another job. When ready to serve, slice the lamb into neat discs.
Season well on both sides with salt and crisp up over direct heat (BBQ or frying pan) until completely heated through. The cauliflower and potatoes can be treated in the same way.
Skim off the majority of the fat from the juices and add a little more stock or water if needed, place in a saucepan and heat through. Either season and serve as it is, or whisk in a little cornflour to thicken. Reheat the onions in a pan, adding a pinch of sugar to sweeten if required and season to taste.
Serve the lamb with the vegetables, onions and a drizzle of gravy.