“The 18th century actor and gastronome Denis Desenarts argued that ‘A leg of lamb should be anticipated like the first meeting of lovers. Turks call it lady’s thigh.'”
-Lana Citron, Edible Pleasures
A friend of mine contacted me because she’d heard I had a really good recipe for peas. It wasn’t my standard ordinary ‘how to cook frozen peas – don’t use water’ method. After much questioning it turned out it was simply a pea version of the one-pot lamb and kritharaki dish I produce at Easter. The idea is not to bother with cooking the peas separately (more washing up), but to simply throw them into the roasting tin towards the end of the cooking process. I do pep them up though, with a good, generous slurp of the rosé vermouth which you find bespattering a goodly number of Saucy Dressings’ recipes.
Lamb goes rather well with mint, and so do peas, so mint sauce is an obvious addition. One of my French guests had never eaten mint sauce before – he’d seen it at his English boarding school and it hadn’t appealed. But he gamely tried it with his lamb, and then came back for seconds.
In the winter this goes well with roast potatoes, but in the summer you could substitute some mixed, grilled Mediterranean vegetables.
Any leftovers can go into a one-pot chick pea and lamb salad (post to come); or a shepherds’ pie.
Recipe for roast lamb with plastered peas
- 2 kg/4½ lbs leg of lamb
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 300 ml/1⅓ cups rosé vermouth, plus a bit more (another 80 ml/⅓ cup) for dissolving the stock cube.
- 9 banana shallots
- 1 small tin (50g/1½ oz) anchovy fillets
- 600g/5½ cups frozen peas
- 1 tbsp mint sauce – plus more for serving
- 1 tbsp cranberry jelly – plus more for serving
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 chicken stock cube
- Olive oil for roasting
- Smoked salt and freshly ground black pepper – ideally Indonesian long pepper
- Preheat the oven to 210ºC.
- In a cooler oven warm your plates and a serving dish for the peas.
- In a bit roasting tray rub the lamb all over first with the oil, and then with the salt. Grind over the pepper – move the mill around to ensure it’s well distributed.
- Peel and slice the garlic into thin slivers.
- Cut small incisions into the fatty side of the lamb and slot the garlic slivers into them.
- Put in the oven for about half an hour.
- Meanwhile, peel the banana shallots, cut off the bottom where the roots are, and then cut into wedges.
- Dissolve the stock cube into the rosé vermouth – just put it near the heat of the oven, and it should dissolve on its own while to deal with everything else. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t fully dissolve.
- After the meat has been in the required amount of time, take out, baste, add the shallots, drizzle over them a bit more olive oil, stir to coat them, and return to the oven for about ten minutes. Take out and stir the shallots again (adding in the anchovy-vermouth mix, see next two steps) and baste.
- Meanwhile lift the anchovy fillets out of the oil, and chop-crush them to a rough paste.
- Dissolve them in the vermouth, and add to the shallots in the roasting tin. Return to the oven for about 15 minutes.
- Take out again, stir and baste again. Add the peas, mixing them in. Return again to the oven for another 15 minutes (or a bit longer if you like your lamb leathery rather than pink).
- Take the lamb out of the oven, and put it on a carving board, and cover with foil to keep it warm.
- Take the peas and shallots out of the roasting tin using a slotted spoon, and put them in the warmed serving dish.
- Use the remaining pan juices as a basis for the gravy. Put the roasting tin on the hob (a low heat) and add the mint sauce, the cranberry jelly, the tomato paste, and the dissolved stock cube. Grind over a bit more pepper.
- Carve the lamb and serve with the peas, gravy, and whatever carbs you’ve decided upon. Put the mint sauce and cranberry jelly on the table for people to help themselves.