How to roast lamb: The British love their lamb and although you can’t beat the quality of English or Welsh lamb when it is in season, the British often enjoy lamb that is grown in New Zealand since it is available all year round. There are around 10 sheep per person in New Zealand (in the UK people outnumber sheep) and ‘Kiwis’ as our New Zealand cousins are known, are the world’s biggest consumers of lamb, eating around three times as much as British.
Sheep thrive in a variety of climates and have been the principal meat source across North Africa and Eurasia for centuries. The Industrial Revolution sparked an increased demand for meat and led to the increased breeding of sheep for meat in the UK. These days we reap the reward of several generations of selective breeding for taste and texture. Well-reared lamb today is likely to be better than any eaten at any time in the past.
How to roast lamb: Serves 6-8
- 2.5 kg (5 lb) lamb leg
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced along the length
- 2 branches fresh rosemary, sprigs removed
- Salt and black pepper
- Preheat oven 180° C / 360 F.
- Using a small sharp knife, make incisions into the top of the lamb every 3 or so centimetres. Stuff each incision with a slice of garlic and a few sprigs of rosemary.
- Season the meat all over with salt and pepper.
- Roast in the centre of the oven for 1 ¼ – 1 ½ hours and baste it with the juices every 20 minutes or so. At least twice during cooking. See ‘Internal cooking temperature guide for lamb’ to help you cook it to your own taste.
- Remove lamb from oven and allow it to rest in the pan, loosely covered with foil, for 30 minutes. Don’t be tempted to stab it with a knife before then otherwise you will release the best of the flavours and your roast lamb will be dry.
Internal cooking temperature guide for lamb:
120-130 °F (48-54 °C) Internal appearance very red; very moist with warm juices. Approximate cooking and resting time: 20-25 min./lb. plus 8-10 min. resting
130-140 °F (54-60 °C) Internal appearance lighter red; very moist with warm juices. Approximate cooking and resting time: 25-30 min./lb.. plus 8-10 min. resting
Medium (with a touch of pink):
140-150 °F (60-66 °C) Internal appearance pink red color; moist with clear pink juice. Approximate cooking and resting time: 30-35 min./lb. plus 8-10 min. resting
150-165 °F (66-74 °C) Internal appearance no pink or red, slightly moist with clear juices.
A rule of thumb for roast lamb is to cook it for 15 minutes for every 500 grams (1 lb) of lamb.
Drain some but not all of the fat, and use for making gravy.