Easter is calling and for me, I stick with tradition. It has to be lamb. But tradition only needs to reach so far.
This recipe combines the flavours released from dry roasting the spices with the more urgent heat from fresh chilli and ginger. The combination is a winner. And how long you cook the lamb is totally up to you. I am not one to dictate whether your lamb is pink and juicy or slow cooked and falling apart.
But if you want to slow cook at a very low temperature, or if you want to serve your lamb very rare, it can be worrying knowing if the meat is properly cooked through; if it’s safe to eat. My Thermapen ensures I know the lamb is cooked to perfection and won’t make anyone ill. The only nausea anyone wants at Easter should be chocolate egg induced.
I first used a British made Thermapen back in 2011, just after the Great British Bake Off, when I found they were invaluable for checking the temperature of bread, cakes, caramel and jam. Where I find I use it most these days though is with meat; particularly joints of meat for the family.
There’s a magical element to opening the Thermapen box, for as soon as you open it, it takes a reading. Given you are either holding the probe, or simply exposing it to the air, you’ll see a reading of how warm your hands are or the temperature of your kitchen.
When you push the probe into meat/bread/jam etc it takes just 3 seconds to take an accurate reading and then lucky for me (with my mind like a sieve), the sensor is activated by motion, so you don’t have to remember to turn it off and risk running down the battery. It’s easy to use; can be used in either hand and in any position, plus the display is backlit so if you’re someone who likes the odd evening barbecue in the summer (or winter!) you can still easily test your meat is cooked to perfection.
Photography: Scott Choucino
Board, props and styling: Woodrow Studios
Yield: 6 - 8
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tsp ground cumin seeds
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 red chillies
- 3cm fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1.8 kilo leg of lamb, slashed 1cm deep, 5 times across the thickest part
- 200mls water
- 4 onions, peeled and cut in half
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled
Place the fennel, cinnamon, coriander, black pepper and cumin into a frying pan and dry fry for 2 minutes over a low heat until the spices start to ‘pop’ and they release an aroma. Remove from the heat and tip immediately into a pestle and mortar. Grind until you have a fine spice mix, then tip into a food processor along with the salt, brown sugar, olive oil, lemon juice, chilli and ginger. Pulse until well combined to a puree, then tip into a large plastic bag or dish. Place the lamb into the spices and either seal the bag and massage the outside to combine, or use a spoon to cover the lamb in the marinade. (Do not use your hands given the chilli in the marinade)! Refrigerate for up to 48 hours to let the flavours infuse. Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas mark 4. Make a trivet for the lamb by pouring the water into a roasting tray and adding the onions and lamb to the base. Rest the lamb on the top and tip and excess marinade over the meat. Roast in the oven - for medium, roast for 25mins per 450g +25 mins. For well done allow 30 minutes per 450g plus an extra 30 minutes. If you prefer a crispy skin, you can start the lamb off at 220C/fan 200C/gas mark 8 for 20 minutes, then turn the heat down. Remember to count this 20 minutes as part of the overall cooking time when calculating. Use a Thermapen to test the centre of the lamb. At 52C it is rare, 60C medium and 70C and above for well done. If it’s at a lower temperature than 52C, put the lamb back into the oven for another 10 minutes and check again. Once the lamb is at the correct temperature, remove from the oven, cover well with foil and leave to rest for 45 minutes. This resting period allows the meat to relax and the juices to be reabsorbed into the fibres meaning the lamb is juicier and tastier. It also makes carving easier.
This post was supported by Thermapen.
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