LAMB WITH PRUNES & ROSEMARY SAGE SALT
This is rich, delicious & really not too difficult. Get your butcher to debone the lamb for you – ready for stuffing & rolling. (keep the bone for roasting). It is wonderful served with sauteed potatoes & artichokes if you can get them – they are seasonal now but perhaps not easy for all to get in these times. This can be a classic dish, served anytime & not only for Easter. It is from my book Limoncello & Linen Water.
Photo by Manos Chatzikonstantis, Styling by Michail Touros.
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 leg of lamb (about 1.6 kg/3 lb 8 oz), deboned
2 tablespoons rosemary & sage salt *
12 pitted prunes
2 medium carrots, peeled & cut into chunks
1 small celery stick
1 onion, peeled & halved
185 ml/ ¾ cup white wine
Preheat the oven to 180'C. Drizzle 4 tablespoons of the olive oil into a baking tin of about 22 x 30 cm. Lay 2 large sheets of foil on a work surface, shiny side down & overlapping to give a larger surface. Rub with butter to grease well.
Rinse the lamb & pat dry with paper towels. Trim off any exaggerated fat, but leave most on for flavour & moistness.
Put the lamb on a cutting board, skin side down & opened out like a book. Mix together the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil & the herbed salt, & massage half of it over the inside of the lamb.
Line up the prunes in pairs like soldiers, running lengthways down the centre of the lamb. Wrap the sides of the lamb over to enclose the prunes. Tie up with kitchen string in a few places to hold the shape. e
Rub the rest of the herby oil mix all over the outside of the lamb, then place it in the centre of the foil. Wrap up tightly, tucking in the sides. Put in the oiled tin & scatter the vegetables around. Add the lamb bone too if you have it.
Roast for about 40 minutes. Remove the foil from the lamb, scrape in any accumulated bits from the side of the tin & splash in the wine. Return to the oven for another 40 minutes or so, turning the lamb once or twice to brown all the sides & spooning the juices over. Add a little water if it looks like it needs. To test if the lamb is done, prick with a fork. The juices should run out- but not be pink. Remove the lamb to a suitable dish. Cut away the string & leave it to rest for a bit while you make some gravy.
Add about ½ cup of water to the baking tin & put it on the stovetop to bubble up & thicken a little. Scrape down any interesting bits from the sides of the tin into the juices. Cut the meat into slices of about 1.5 cm & serve hot, with the juices spooned over.
ROSEMARY & SAGE SALT
This is a great thing to have on hand in your kitchen – to scatter over meat & potatoes before roasting. The herbs perfume the salt beautifully. It is up to you how much to use. Be less heavy-handed if you prefer less salt. You can also just make up a small quantity of this at a time if you prefer - & even use it straight away without waiting for the herbs to dry.
Makes about 1 ¼ cups
5 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
5 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small red chilli, chopped
160 g (½ cup) Pink Himalayan (or other coarse salt)
a few black peppercorns
Scatter the chopped rosemary, sage, garlic & chilli on a tray lined with baking paper. Cover with a net & put in front of a window that gets direct sunlight.
Crush the salt in small batches in a mortar with a pestle. It's nice to have varying texture in the salt, but each crystal should be at least cracked. Crush the peppercorns with the last batch.
Toss onto the tray with the herbs & leave to dry. When completely dry, store in a closed jar.