Lamb is my favourite meat. Given the choice, I’d always have lamb over any other red meat on offer.
But for a while there I all but gave up cooking it, because lamb prices seemed to skyrocket in the past couple of years, making a lamb fillet or roast a super-luxury treat. In the past month or so, though, I’ve rejoiced with other lamb lovers as lamb is once again within reach of a budget-conscious shopper. I’ve been taking advantage of some great lamb specials recently and stockpiling lamb legs in the freezer.
My favourite current thing to do with a leg of lamb is to slow-roast it for 5-6 hours in a very low oven. I brown the leg on the stove, then put it into a large roasting dish with a cup of wine and a cup of stock. A few fresh herbs such as rosemary and thyme are worth throwing in, and if I’m feeling in the mood I’ll stab the leg in multiple places and poke in some slivers of garlic. Then I cover the whole thing tightly with a double layer of tinfoil, pop it into a low oven (130-150°C) and leave it all afternoon. After about 5 hours, the lamb is meltingly tender and falling off the bone. You can use your fat separator jug to get rid of most of the fat in the meat juices (click here to learn more about this useful gadget) and reduce them down to make a delicious sauce. I’ve been serving my lamb with creamy parsnip mash and a bright salad of rocket, mint, feta and preserved lemon. Sautéed cabbage is also lovely. And the extra bonus is that, depending on the size of the leg, I can get another couple of meals from the leftovers. Sometimes I make a classic shepherd’s pie (with added veges); sometimes I make a spicy lamb curry and sometimes a vege and lamb soup. The meat never goes amiss in sandwiches and rolls, either.
In terms of nutrition, lean lamb is great value. It’s nutrient-dense and high in protein, meaning a small amount gives great satiety – it makes us feel fuller for longer. It’s also one of the best sources of well-absorbed iron. Lamb contains B group vitamins including B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12, as well as the essential mineral zinc. Like all red meat, lamb does contain saturated fat; some cuts more than others. Lean cuts like fillets, cutlets, racks and loins have less fat and lend themselves to quick cooking. Slow-cooking cuts like the leg and shoulder are fattier, but trimming the visible fat before cooking and then taking some time to drain fat away from any juices or gravy will help to make sure not too much of this gets into you. Remember to keep portions reasonable, too – the meat should be 1/4 of your plate, not the main feature! Fill the rest of your ‘ideal’ plate with 1/4 carbohydrates and 1/2 colourful veges and the classic Kiwi lamb meal will be a classic healthy one, too.
What are your favourite lamb recipes? I’d love to know… share them below.