The Essential Leg of Lamb

Recipe and Images Kathy Paterson

It’s winter, the time of year to turn on the oven and get roasting. Meat, vegetables and winter fruits all shine when roasted, intensifying flavour and a savoury presence. Incidentally, I’m with British food writer Nigel Slater, I too will find any excuse to roast a potato.

Serves 8 with plenty of vegetables and some leftover cold lamb for the following day


2–2.3kg (or thereabouts) leg of lamb

4 cloves garlic, crushed

4 tbsp olive oil

finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp dried oregano

1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, plus a few sprigs for scattering


8 medium floury potatoes, such as Agria, peeled and cut in half

a few lemon slices



Put the leg of lamb in a roasting dish (one large enough to hold the potatoes as well in a single layer), and using a small, sharp knife make small, shallow slits in the lamb skin.

Mix together the garlic, olive oil, lemon zest, dried oregano and fresh thyme and spoon over the lamb. Loosely cover with baking paper or foil and leave to sit for about an hour to allow the lamb to return to room temperature and for the flavours to mingle.

Heat the oven to 180°C.  Lift the cover and drizzle the lemon juice over the lamb, sprinkle with a little salt, then roast in the oven for 1 hour 45 minutes for lamb that is just a little pink.  After 45 minutes remove the paper or foil cover and put in the prepared potatoes to roast alongside the lamb, scattering around a few lemon slices as well. There is no need to cover the lamb again as you want it to brown now. Baste the lamb and potatoes a couple of times during cooking with the meat juices.

Remove the lamb from the oven, scatter over extra thyme leaves, cover with foil and a clean tea towel and leave to rest for 15–20 minutes before carving.

To roast the potatoes
Put the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with lightly salted water. Bring to the boil then boil for 5 minutes. Drain and dry off well over the heat, shaking the saucepan to prevent sticking. Using a clean tea towel to help you, hold each potato piece and scuff up with a fork. Once all potatoes are nicely scuffed and still hot, transfer them to the roasting dish with the lamb. Turn them in the meat juices before returning roasting dish to the oven and cook for an hour.


Basting tip
Remove the lamb from the oven for basting and close the oven door so the oven temperature doesn’t drop.

Carving tip 
Carve the lamb with a sharp carving knife, carving across the grain of the meat for tender slices. To begin carving, cut a large wedge from the meat at the knuckle end. Slice thin slices down towards the bone. Run knife under lamb slices to release.

Leftover tips
The most obvious is lamb sandwiches for lunch the next day. Mince the lamb or cut very finely and make fritters or rissoles.


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