Lamb and Easter are forever intertwined in my mind – can’t have the one without the other. That’s probably because I grew up in Greece where the fasting of Lent ended with a massive Easter Sunday feast featuring spit-roasted lamb and about a million other side dishes, salads, homemade bread and whatever else my cooking-obsessed mother would conjure up.
I was NOT a fan of the spit-roasted lamb in my youth – I think I ended up eating everything but the lamb! These days I have embraced roast lamb and am constantly looking for new ways to serve it. The good news is that lamb will, more or less, take every flavour you throw at it. Pairings like rosemary and garlic are classics for a reason, but this time I wanted to jazz things up a bit and use up several things in my pantry and fruit bowl!
Pomegranate molasses is a classic ingredient in Persian cooking – often paired with lamb and used in both sweet and savoury dishes. I had a bottle lurking in the back of a shelf for such a long time and I actually felt relieved to finally use it! The blood oranges were a last minute addition borne of necessity (they were going bad) but I think they work really well in the recipe. You can use a mix of regular oranges and lemons if you can’t get hold of any.
125g | 4 1/2oz cous cous
250ml | 1 cup hot vegetable stock (or hot water)
seeds from 1 pomegranate
salt and freshly ground pepper
- Place the couscous in a bowl and cover with hot vegetable stock (you may not need it all or you may need a splash more). Stir then cover the bowl with some kitchen towel.
- Let the couscous absorb the stock then fluff up with a fork. Let it cool.
- Add the pomegranate seeds, currants, flaked almonds and orange juice and mix together. Stir in the chopped herbs, season to taste and drizzle with a little olive oil.
The one thing that this recipe can’t pinpoint exactly is cooking time as this will depend on the size of your leg of lamb. So these are guidelines based on weight – you may need to adjust depending on your oven and sometimes how fatty the cut is. Check the cooking instructions on the packaging if in doubt. Remember lamb is best served slightly rare and make sure you rest the meat before serving. The best way to check your meat is cooked is by using a meat thermometer.
• Preheat oven to 200C (400F) and roast 25-30 minutes per 450g (1lb).
• Remember to let the lamb rest, loosely covered with foil and a tea towel, for at least 20 minutes before carving.
• Use butterflied leg of lamb (bone removed) if you wish to speed up the process – I also find that butterflied lamb is less fatty as they usually remove a lot of the fat – so you get more meat for your money.
Persian Leg of Lamb
1 leg of lamb, about 1kg/2lb
150ml | 1/2 cup lamb stock
4-5 blood oranges, cut in half
3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
2 large red onions, cut in half
For the marinade
4 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cumin
salt and freshly ground pepper
handful chopped parsley to serve
- Preheat the oven to 200C (400F). Place an oven rack on the lower part of the oven.
- In a small bowl mix together all the marinade ingredients. Take the meat out of the fridge and score the fat in a criss cross pattern. Rub with the marinade all over and let it rest at room temperature for at least half an hour.
- Line a roasting tray with the sliced oranges, onions and sliced garlic. Place the marinaded lamb on top then pour the stock around the lamb. Generously season with salt and pepper.
- Roast based on weight (see above) occasionally basting the lamb with the pan juices. If you are cooking a large cut then cover with foil for the first half hour and remove foil to let the meat brown. I flipped my roast over halfway to let it brown evenly.
- Remove from the oven and transfer to a plate. Let the lamb rest, covered in foil and a tea towel, for 20 minutes.
- Transfer the pan juices to a saucepan. Squeeze one or two of the oranges from the roasting tray and add juice to the pot. Simmer for 30 minutes or until you have a slightly syrupy gravy.
- Slice the lamb and serve drizzled with the gravy, a little chopped parsley and the tabbouleh or salad on the side.
This post was developed for the Sainsbury’s Easter campaign.