Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Marinated whole leg of Lamb

A few years ago I announced that I was looking into buying a small clay oven for cooking individual pizza over wood embers............. (notice the emphasis on small in that statement)

This seemed to spark some hidden need in Andrew and the next thing I knew we were knee deep in plans and sketches and the foundations were being poured for the epic of all wood ovens.

the oven build in process

What is it with men and fire?....

I suppose fire & the prospect of  food tick 2 out of their 3 basic instincts.......

Anyway, it was way beyond anything I had imagined and included not only a preparation area but also a large barbecue & the wood oven is big enough to cook a whole roast not just a pizza!

It has now become one of the main ways we cook and most weekends, especially throughout the summer, when we will light it mid-morning (ish) and then smoke out the neighbours........and as an added bonus we are able to cook lunch & evening meal in it!

One of the most successful meals is a marinated leg of lamb.

I  marinade the lamb first thing in the morning so the meat has a good 5 to 6 hours to take on the flavours before cooking.


The basis of this recipe came from an Australian magazine left at our house by some friends a few years ago. It's has a very fresh, sweet sour flavour & is perfect for lamb.

Zest & juice of 1 large lemon (also keep the shells)
3 tablespoons tomato ketchup
1 tablespoon sugar
1 large clove garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
Good pinch salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme

Grab your pestle & mortar and pound the garlic into submission with the salt (the salt helps to stop the clove of garlic flying out & hitting you in the eye - I speak from experience!) Once the garlic has formed a smooth paste add all the other ingredients with the olive oil being added last. The mixture will initially be fairly liquid but once you start to work the olive oil in it will emulsify and thicken.

You can use this marinade for roast lamb & also lamb chops or kebabs.

For a whole leg of lamb

You will need -1 clove garlic and some fresh root ginger along with the leftover lemon shells (from the marinade) and some sprigs of rosemary & thyme.

Place the lamb on a board and make incisions along its length. Push slivers of garlic & fresh ginger into the cuts and then place on a dish. Now smother the whole joint in all the marinade - really working the liquid into the flesh. Cover & refrigerate. If you remember take it out once or twice during the day and re-baste in the marinade collected at the bottom of the dish.

When your ready to cook place in a heavy based pan with the rosemary and thyme under the joint and the lemon shells tucked in as well. Cover with foil & place into your wood oven.

Now timings - this depends on the size of your joint, the temperature of your oven and how you like your lamb cooked. As a rough guide we usually leave in the oven, covered, for about an hour.  We then remove the cover and the lemon (burnt lemon shells impart a very bitter taste to any dish) and pop it back in to colour and slightly burn the marinade. This final process imparts a lovely smokey woody taste to the lamb.

We don't like to over cook lamb preferring it pink on the inside but it is all a matter of taste.

If you are going to cook this way you will need to know how your oven or barbecue cooks to work out you own times but our guide above will form a good basic timing for you and of course, you can cook this really well in your household oven ( just treat as you would an ordianry roast)

We serve our lamb with flat bread and a variety of extras ................

On the plate we have hummus, tzatziki, rocket, beetroot, spinach, tomatoes and yellow peppers.

The dressing is mint & lemon - 1 teaspoon of mint sauce, juice of 1 lemon and 3 tablespoons of olive oil mixed well.

This dish is great for parties as everyone can assemble their own flatbreads & include what ever they want.

Peppers & courgettes in olive oil

Andrew has promised that he will write up his plans & construction notes for the woodoven so I will publish them on the blog soon if your interested.......

Printable Recipe