Roast lamb

Roast succulent lamb and embellish the meat with plenty of aromatic herbs and garlic
By Nigel Slater
Roast lamb
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 6
  • Cook Time: 1.3333333333333333 hours 20 minutes
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Effort: easy


  • 2 kg leg of lamb, or shoulder, on the bone
  • 1 sprigs thyme, or rosemary
  • 1-2 whole head garlic, , unpeeled
  • 3-4 tbsp olive oil


1. Set the oven at 230C/gas 8. Put the lamb in a roasting pan big enough to allow you to get some herbs and garlic around the meat. Strip the thyme or rosemary leaves off their stems--you will need a couple of large sprigs of rosemary or six to eight little sprigs of thyme--and chop or crush the leaves quite finely.

2. Stir enough olive oil into them to make a spreadable slush, then crumble in some salt and crushed black pepper. Massage the seasoned oil all over the meat--you will find there is something quite pleasurable about this--then cut the whole heads of garlic in half and tuck them under the lamb with the stems from the herbs.

3. Roast in the preheated oven for twenty minutes, then turn the heat down to 200C/gas 6 and continue roasting until the fat is golden and crisp and the meat is done as you would like it. Lamb needs about fifteen minutes per 450g of meat, plus the initial twenty minutes, so for a 2kg roast you should start checking after the meat has been in the oven for an hour and twenty minutes. This will give you medium-rare meat, still juicy and quite pink in the middle.

4. Remove the meat from the oven, discard the garlic and herb twigs (they have served their purpose but do pull out some of the garlic cloves from their skins first), and leave the lamb to rest for ten minutes before carving.

5. You could make gravy by adding peeled and roughly chopped onions to the pan so that they roast sweetly. When you get the lamb out to rest, sprinkle a light dusting of flour over the onions, let them sizzle for a few seconds over a high heat, then pour over enough stock, water, or wine to make a thin, oniony gravy. Season, but do not strain; the onions are crucial.

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