Roasted Leg of Salt Marsh lamb with Wild Garlic Pesto
Spring is here and that means Spring Lamb. Now, Wales is well known for its high quality lamb, but we decided to take it a bit further and use Gower Salt Marsh Lamb for that local touch. But there’s more…. It’s wild garlic time, so get out there, pick some and make this wonderful pesto that goes fantastically with roasted lamb.
For the lamb
1.5 kg leg of salt marsh lamb, butterflied
1 garlic bulb, unpeeled and halved horizontally
A few sprigs of rosemary
150 ml olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
For the pesto
1 big handful of fresh wild garlic leaves
1/2 tsp of salt
1 1/2 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 tsp of pine nuts
30g of Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
For this recipe to work, it’s best to marinate our leg of lamb for at least 12 hours. So, the night before place your lamb in a tray that fits in the fridge, and season with black pepper and half of the olive oil; remember to leave the salt out of this stage as salt draws moisture out. Meat should only be salted just before cooking to help retain as much as the moisture as possible. Add the halved garlic bulb and the rosemary, wrap everything in cling film and leave it in the fridge for the night.
When you are ready to cook your beautiful lamb, remove it from the fridge and leave it on the work surface while you make the pesto so it has a chance to come back to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400F/Gas6.
Now the mighty pesto. The secret to a good pesto sauce is to chop everything by hand.
Start chopping the garlic cloves along with the wild garlic leaves. Now add the pine nuts and Parmesan and chop all the ingredients finely. Taste and season with salt if needed. Transfer the pesto to a small bowl. Add a bit of olive oil and mix; it doesn’t take much, just a few tablespoons.
If you don’t have access to wild garlic, try using mint instead as it goes very well with lamb.
You can find various cuts of lamb in the market; when it comes to legs I like them on the bone, but in this case we are looking for one where the thigh bone has been removed so we can flavour the inside of the leg.
So get your lamb and pat it dry with kitchen towel. Lay out the leg of lamb, skin side down, on a chopping board, sprinkle with salt and spread 1 or 2 tablespoons of the pesto all over the inside, where the bone was. Roll it up and tie with string to secure.
Place the two halves of the garlic bulb in a roasting tray and place your lamb, skin side up, on top of the garlic; this way you’ll keep it from touching the bottom. Season the meat with salt and pepper and place it in the oven.
Cook the lamb for about an hour if you want it pink, or an hour and 15 minutes if you want it well done. Take it out of the oven, cover with foil and leave for 15 minutes before serving.
Carve and serve with roasted vegetables and some more of that beautiful pesto.
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