I had a chance to make my favorite roast this weekend: a leg of lamb, done with your typical rosemary and garlic, but with the surprising addition of...anchovies. It's a meal I've tried in Italy and am told it's not uncommon in France, either. Although they sound like a completely mis-matched ingredient, the anchovies melt along with the butter and leave behind a simple, salty tenderness.
This particular recipe comes from the Simon Hopkinson book, Roast Chicken and Other Stories. It was last year voted as the favorite cookbook among chefs in the UK, which made this little-known cookbook sell out very quickly. I didn't feel overly compelled to get the book until Mr A&N came home from a job with daily stories about how his boss loved the foods the book lead him to - simple, classic dishes but all knee-meltingly excellent. His boss, to all intents and purposes, was a Very Large Man, but he also Really Enjoyed His Food - not fatty unhealthy ready-meal food, but fatty unhealthy home-made food of the gourmet domain. Simon Hopkinson, he swore, knew how to make some good things fairly simply (and to tell some nice stories around them).
The lamb from this comes out very, very tender and juicy. We tend to like our lamb pink, but even if you err on the side of well-done your lamb should still be in succulent enough shape. The gravy it produces is also a rather perfect kind of gravy, but do take care to drain off any extra fat - not doing so might just send some of you rotundly plummeting over the heart-attack precipice. My favorite Sunday roast dinner indeed, probably made all the tastier since I know I'll only be having it a couple of times a year. Please note, I only had time to take pictures of it pre-cooked, since once that thing was out of the oven and being carved up everything else got lost in the blur of me trying to get as much lamb into my mouth as possible.
Roast Leg of Lamb with Anchovy, Garlic, and Rosemary from Simon Hopkinson
- 1.8kg/4lb leg of lamb
- 100g/4oz tinned anchovies
- small bunch of rosemary
- 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and sliced lenghtways into 3 pieces
- 75g/3oz butter, softened
- black pepper
- 1/2 bottle white wine
- juice of 1 lemon
- Preheat the oven to 220 C/425 F.
- With a sharp knife, make about 12 2-inch deep incisions into the fleshy side of the joint.
- In each of these incisions, insert a sliver of garlic, half an anchovy, and a small sprig of rosemary, and push them all into the cut well.
- Cream the butter along with any remaining anchovies and smear this all over the meat. Grind black pepper on top of this.
- Place the lamb in a roasting tin, and pour the wine around it. Tuck in any remaining rosemary into some incisions, and squeeze the lemon over the lamb.
- Put in the oven, and roast for 15 minutes.
- At the end of the first 15 minutes, turn the temperature down to 180 C /350F.
- Roast for a further hour (or slightly more/less depending on how you like your lamb cooked), basting from time to time with the juices that come out.
- Leave the lamb out of the oven and untouched for 15 minutes before carving.
- Use this 15 minutes to make the gravy with all the leftover juices.