Slow roasted leg of lamb

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Have you ever had a recipe that you keep going back to no matter how many new recipes you’ve tried? The second part in my series of festive recipes is one of those recipes - slow roasted leg of lamb. I’ve been making this exact same recipe for over 20 years and it never fails me. It’s easy, straight forward and uses fresh whole food ingredients for flavouring. If you enjoy tender, fall-off the bone meat, you will enjoy this but you do need to plan ahead as it takes at least 4 hours of waiting, depending on the size of your joint. The slow cooking method is one of my absolute favourite ways to cook lamb and since we’re not turkey lovers, lamb is my go-to for Christmas dinner.

The lamb I’ve used in the image is Karoo lamb. I grew up in South Africa (Durban) and also lived in the Eastern Cape for about 10 years. During this time I discovered Karoo lamb, which is lamb raised in the Karoo region (Western Cape) and fed on a diet of plants indigenous to this region It gives the lamb a distinctive flavour which is well suited for slow roasting with fresh herbs, garlic and other aromatics. A good substitute is free-range lamb available locally or in your region.

With all the fuss over food this time of the year and diet culture influencing many recipes online and on social media, it helps to stay focused on what works for you. Intuitive eating is all about the principles of getting back to eating the way you were born to eat. This could be different for everyone and if you’re on Instagram or Pinterest, the chances are you've seen many food posts on what millions of people think is a healthy diet. Breaking free from diet culture or the fear of terminal illness is hard pill to swallow for many, including myself. My own journey into health food took a turn when my father was diagnosed with cancer. The more I read and learn, the more I realise that there is no one diet that’s better than others. It all depends on the individual and the only thing that matters in terms of food, is that you’re eating real food, most of the time, preferably made from scratch.

This recipe for slow roasted leg of lamb makes for a delicious, healthy and homemade festive meal together with your favourite sides and vegetables. I hope the festive season is bringing you much joy and many delicious homemade treats - I know my kids are loving it!

Slow roasted leg of lamb

Serves 8

2kg free-range leg of lamb, bone in

2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced lengthways

2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked off the stem

2-3 sprigs fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

1 cup water, or more as required

Extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Take the lamb out of the fridge about an hour before cooking to bring it to room temperature and place it into a suitable sized roasting tray.

  2. Make deep incisions all over the top of the leg and stuff each incision with garlic slices and rosemary leaves. Scatter the thyme and bay leaves around and under the lamb and season the meat all over. Drizzle with olive oil and pour in the cup of water (you may need to add more while it’s cooking).

  3. Cover with a sheet of baking paper, then cover with a large sheet of foil over that and make sure to tuck in the sides so that the heat doesn’t escape. Roast in the oven for at least 3 1/2 hours until tender, basting the meat with the juices every hour or so. Remove the foil and baking paper and roast uncovered for another 30 minutes until the top is browned.

  4. Let is rest for 10 minutes before shredding or pulling the meat apart with two forks.

Main MealsIrini Savva