Easter came so early this year that it was almost impossible to find a British leg of lamb anywhere. Mum was a legend and managed to purloin a whole boned saddle of lamb from our brilliant and aptly named local farm shop, Browns of Stagsden.
It was a fine piece of meat. Weighty, lightly covered with an even and sweet looking covering of creamy fat.
I studded the surface with slithers of garlic, shards of anchovy and sprigs of rosemary. Unashamedly copying the legend of Simon Hopkinson. I smothered the surface with butter mixed with the leftover garlic, rosemary and anchovy, poured half a sorry looking bottle of chardonay around the outside. 2 halves of a head of garlic mirrored each other on either side before it was triumphantly placed at the top of the aga to brown the outside.
After half an hour of Maillard action I transfered it to a cooler over to let the sweet meet and tasty juices develop more gently.
Bored of mash and devoid of suitable roasting fat or potatoes I decided to try something new on the starch front. I've seen James Martin and others make boulangere potatoes on telly. The story seems to be that back in the day when villages relied on the local baker's oven to cook things like Lancashire hotpots the French did something very similar with their boulangeres. Using the hot but cooling oven to cook fantastic non creamy version of dauphinoise.
All you need to do is slice some onions and shallots very thinly. Do the same with some garlic. And then likewise with some peeled potatoes. Arrange in layers alternating between tuber and bulb. Season aggressively and add whatever herbs you can get your hands on. Sage, rosemary and thyme work well. Then glug over some white wine. Sprinkle the top with salt and lob in your local baker's oven. Or failing that just use your own!
They should come out looking like this and tasting fantastic.
The lamb emerged from the bottom often sighing with flavour. I let the meat rest and created a gravy from the pan juices using a mix of marmite, hot water and some wine. It reduced down to a sinfully rich sauce that hard to keep Dad from finishing in seconds!
Mum complained about the lack of mint but soon disisted after she had tucked in. Easter roast lamb has to be one of the culinary and family highlights of the year. The anchovy, rosemary and garlic flavours mingle, mellow and melt into one of the most moreish flavours. I can't wait for next Easter and tucking into more lamb as we move into spring and BBQ season.