This episode is all about dishes for the weekend – when you’ve got a bit more time to enjoy being in the kitchen and cook yourself something extra special to share with family and friends. Tom turns an ordinary leg of lamb into an extraordinary dish by roasting it wrapped in branches of bay leaves to pack in extra flavour.
- 1 leg of lamb (about 1.5 – 2kg)
- 2tbsp flaky sea salt
- 2tbsp juniper berries
- 2tbsp picked thyme leaves, plus the remaining bunch
- 2 branches of fresh bay leaves (use rosemary if you haven’t got bay leaves)
- ½ 1 bottle of white wine
- 1 head of celery, roughly chopped
- 500ml fresh lamb stock (or chicken, or beef stock)
- 2tbsp olive oil
- zest of 1 lemon
- 25g butter
- Take the juniper berries and flaky sea salt and mix together in a bowl. Place them into a frying pan and place them on a high heat and cook for 4-5 minutes. The salt will start to discolour and the room will start to smell like juniper. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. When cool, grind and crush together in a pestle and mortar.
- Place the leg of lamb onto a chopping board and cut the flesh with a sharp knife about 1cm deep in about 8 to 10 times on both sides of the leg of lamb. Rub in the salt and juniper mix, massaging it right into the cuts. Rub over the 2tbsp of olive oil and then massage in the thyme leaves and lemon zest. Wrap the leg of lamb tightly in clingfilm and place into the fridge to marinade for at least 8 hours but 24 would be better.
- The next day, place one of the bay leaf branches onto a chopping board. Place the lamb leg on top and then place the second bay leaf branch on top of the lamb. The branches should have enough leaves on them so the lamb looks like a camouflaged tank. Tie up with butchers twine, you can wrap it around.
- Put a large roasting tray onto the hob and heat up over a medium heat. Pour in a little oil and add the chopped celery. Sweat down until it starts to soften. Add the remaining thyme bunch to the celery and stir. Sit a roasting rack on top of the celery, place the leg of lamb on top and pour on the white wine and lamb stock. Cover with foil.
- Put the roasting tray into a pre-heated oven at 150°C and braise for 4 ½ hours until the meat is tender and will flake from the bone with a fork.
- When ready, remove the pan from the oven and leave to rest with the lid on for ½ hour. After this time, gently remove the lamb from the pan and place it onto a chopping board.
- Place the cooking pan back onto a high temperature hob and reduce the cooking liquor down by half to create lovely fragrant lamb gravy. Add the butter towards the end of cooking. Pass through a fine sieve, pushing as much as possible through and keep to one side.
- Remove the string and the bay leaves. Blowtorch the lamb to give it a lovely colour. Brush over a little gravy to glaze and serve with the wilted cavolo nero.