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More Nigella recipes

Herbed Leg of Lamb

by . Featured in AT MY TABLE
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Introduction

This is relaxingly simple to make: a quick blitz with a stick blender, and you have an upliftingly fragrant, gloriously green paste which you coat the lamb with before roasting and, once cooked, gives a soft, fresh-flavoured crust. You don’t exactly get a gravy out of the liquid at the bottom of the tin (the water stops the tin from burning and keeps the meat gorgeously tender) but taste it once the lamb’s rested, to see if you want to add a little freshly boiled water, and possibly a drop or two of honey, to give you some juices to pour over the carved meat.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

This is relaxingly simple to make: a quick blitz with a stick blender, and you have an upliftingly fragrant, gloriously green paste which you coat the lamb with before roasting and, once cooked, gives a soft, fresh-flavoured crust. You don’t exactly get a gravy out of the liquid at the bottom of the tin (the water stops the tin from burning and keeps the meat gorgeously tender) but taste it once the lamb’s rested, to see if you want to add a little freshly boiled water, and possibly a drop or two of honey, to give you some juices to pour over the carved meat.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Image of Nigella's Herbed Leg of Lamb
Photo by Jonathan Lovekin

Ingredients

Serves: 6-8

Metric Cups
  • approx 2 kilograms leg of lamb (bone-in)
  • leaves from 1 small (approx 15g) bunch fresh oregano
  • 1 x 15ml tablespoon rosemary needles
  • 4 fat cloves of garlic (peeled and halved)
  • 1 lemon (finely grated zest and 2 x 15ml tablespoons of juice)
  • 1 orange (finely grated zest and 2 x 15ml tablespoons of juice)
  • 2 x 15ml tablespoons regular olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3½ pounds leg of lamb (bone-in)
  • leaves from a small bunch, to give (loosely packed) ¾ cup fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary needles
  • 4 fat cloves of garlic (peeled and halved)
  • 1 lemon (finely grated zest and 2 x 15ml tablespoons of juice)
  • 1 orange (finely grated zest and 2 x 15ml tablespoons of juice)
  • 2 tablespoons regular olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt flakes

Method

  1. Sit the lamb in a roasting tin, skin-side up, and make many plunging incisions all over the skin side with the tip of a sharp knife.
  2. With a stick blender, blitz the oregano, rosemary, garlic, lemon and orange zests and juices, olive oil and kosher salt to a herb-flecked runny paste. Pour or spoon this over the lamb and use your fingers to help get it into the meat where you've made your incisions. A lot of the paste will run off down into the tin: rub this into the sides, where the meat is exposed, and spoon over the top on the skin. Leave for 45 minutes or so until the lamb is at room temperature. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/350°F.
  3. Pour enough just-boiled water to come up about ½ cm / ¼ inch in the tin, and roast for 1 hour 40 minutes (and see Additional Information below for timing guidance), though take a look at it after an hour or so to make sure that the water hasn't evaporated (if it has, add more) and the top isn't burning - if it is, cover loosely with foil - though it should, by the end of its cooking time, be darkened in places. I have never found it to burn in my oven, but some ovens are fiercer than others.
  4. Before the time is quite up, remove from the oven and put your probe in (again, see Additional Information below), if you have one. Otherwise pierce with a knife and peek in.
  5. Remove the cooked lamb from the oven, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for 15-30 minutes, checking on it every now and again, before transferring to a board to carve.
  1. Sit the lamb in a roasting tin, skin-side up, and make many plunging incisions all over the skin side with the tip of a sharp knife.
  2. With a stick blender, blitz the oregano, rosemary, garlic, lemon and orange zests and juices, olive oil and sea salt flakes to a herb-flecked runny paste. Pour or spoon this over the lamb and use your fingers to help get it into the meat where you've made your incisions. A lot of the paste will run off down into the tin: rub this into the sides, where the meat is exposed, and spoon over the top on the skin. Leave for 45 minutes or so until the lamb is at room temperature. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/350°F.
  3. Pour enough just-boiled water to come up about ½ cm / ¼ inch in the tin, and roast for 1 hour 40 minutes (and see Additional Information below for timing guidance), though take a look at it after an hour or so to make sure that the water hasn't evaporated (if it has, add more) and the top isn't burning - if it is, cover loosely with foil - though it should, by the end of its cooking time, be darkened in places. I have never found it to burn in my oven, but some ovens are fiercer than others.
  4. Before the time is quite up, remove from the oven and put your probe in (again, see Additional Information below), if you have one. Otherwise pierce with a knife and peek in.
  5. Remove the cooked lamb from the oven, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for 15-30 minutes, checking on it every now and again, before transferring to a board to carve.

Additional Information

The timing above is based on your cooking a 2kg leg for 20 minutes per 500g plus 20 minutes / a 3½ lb leg for 18 minutes per pound plus 20 minutes, which will give you medium, that's to say, pink lamb; if you want well-cooked lamb, then give it 30 minutes per 500g plus 30 minutes / 27 minutes per pound plus 30 minutes. However, ovens do vary, and it's wise to use a temperature probe. I resisted for a long time, but now I get my probe out at every possible opportunity. But I don't cook the meat to the temperature that I want it to be (for pink lamb, that would be 60°C / 140°F; for well-done, 71°C / 160°F) because I find that the meat carries on cooking as it rests, and I'm always nervous of overcooking it. If you want your meat well-done, then this isn't going to be a worry, but for pink meat I suggest that you take the lamb out when it reads 55°C / 130°F, and rest it, covered loosely in foil out of a draught for 15-30 minutes, testing with your probe to make sure you don't carve it until it's as you want it. But keep an eye, so it doesn't go over, either.

The timing above is based on your cooking a 2kg leg for 20 minutes per 500g plus 20 minutes / a 3½ lb leg for 18 minutes per pound plus 20 minutes, which will give you medium, that's to say, pink lamb; if you want well-cooked lamb, then give it 30 minutes per 500g plus 30 minutes / 27 minutes per pound plus 30 minutes. However, ovens do vary, and it's wise to use a temperature probe. I resisted for a long time, but now I get my probe out at every possible opportunity. But I don't cook the meat to the temperature that I want it to be (for pink lamb, that would be 60°C / 140°F; for well-done, 71°C / 160°F) because I find that the meat carries on cooking as it rests, and I'm always nervous of overcooking it. If you want your meat well-done, then this isn't going to be a worry, but for pink meat I suggest that you take the lamb out when it reads 55°C / 130°F, and rest it, covered loosely in foil out of a draught for 15-30 minutes, testing with your probe to make sure you don't carve it until it's as you want it. But keep an eye, so it doesn't go over, either.

Tell us what you think

What 7 Others have said

  • Thought is was delicious, yesterday on Easter Sunday. Thank you .

    Posted by calhoun on 13th April 2020
  • Lovely and easy! I upped the herbs and garlic a little as I had extra. Lamb came out great, the paste really complements the lamb. No need for gravy, super moist and juicy. I served it with peas & mint and roasted fingerling potatoes.

    Posted by Alistew19 on 12th April 2020
  • Made this for dinner tonight (Easter Sunday). Didn’t have time to make the paste so covered it with herbs & garlic but the addition of water as it cooked kept it moist & tender! & it made lovely gravy!...Delicious! Will definitely do this again and next time I’ll make the paste. Yummy!

    Posted by stellab on 12th April 2020
  • Made this twice already and making it again today for lockdown Easter having dreamed about it for the last 2 weeks. Absolutely delicious!

    Posted by REDMEK on 12th April 2020
  • I made this for dinner tonight and it was amazing! Tasted like a tender, juicy roast, but not a strong lamb flavor at all. My family loved it and it was so easy to prepare. Will definitely be making it again.

    Posted by Supermarette on 7th September 2018
  • Looks delicious! I'm going to try it.

    Posted by Ron050 on 28th August 2018
  • I initially saw this on TV where I enjoyed so much Nigella's presentation, informative and peppered (ha!) with her wonderful humor. Here it is in print. It's a fantastic recipe and would probably work with veal too, with some little adjustments.

    Posted by RebbeSoul on 20th July 2018
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