A great Sunday go to dish for feeding a crowd, and much easier than preparing a roast. This recipe is from Nigella’s iconic ‘How to Eat’ and impossible to improve upon.
1 large lamb leg 2¼ kg, or more if available
3 cloves garlic
100g butter, plus more for greasing the pan
1 large onion or 2-3 shallots
3 bay leaves
small bunch of thyme
1½ kg potatoes
200ml stock or water
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6/200C
Peel the garlic and cut into spikes. Stab the lamb in several places and insert the garlic. Cut a quarter of the butter off and put to one side. Cut the onion into quarters, crumble the bay leaves and put in to the bowl of a food processor then pluck some thyme sprigs into the bowl before whizzing it up. Butter a deep oven dish large enough to take all the potatoes and the lamb. Peel the potatoes and slice them thinly – but not transparently so – blanch them for 2-3 minutes in boiling salted water, drain, dry and layer them on the bottom of the dish, dotting with butter taken from the larger, main, amount and sprinkling with salt, pepper and the onion, thyme, bay-leaf mixture. If you have some lamb stock handy, pour it over the potatoes – if not you can use any stock or just water. Put in to oven for 30 minutes before adding the lamb.
Rub the top of the lamb with the rest of the butter softened, with the leaves from the remaining sprigs of thyme. Sit the lamb on top of the potatoes and put back in the oven for 1 hour, then raise the heat to gas mark 8/220C and cook for another 30 minutes. This should give you pink, but not underdone meat. But test after about 1 ¼ hours to see if it’s how you like it.
Let the meat rest in the turned off oven with the door open for about 15 minutes before serving. Even though it doesn’t look as lovely, remove the lamb to a board to carve it. You can always put the slices back on top of the potatoes in the tin before you serve it.