Slow Roasted Rosemary Lamb with Aromatic Honey
In Italy it is almost a crime not to have lamb for the main course on Easter, so we have created an agnello recipe especially for the occasion.
However, unlike elsewhere in Italy, here in Liguria it is incredibly hard to find quality and sustainably sourced lamb. This is down to the geography of our landscape here on the Riviera dei Fiori where the steeply terraced hinterland between coast and Alps is covered with olive and fruit trees, wild herbs and flowers but not sheep!
My search for traceable lamb has taken me just over the border to France. In this borderland where over the centuries lands have been both French and Italian and recipes and traditions have their Provencal and Ligurian interpretations many things remain very distinctive of their village or valley with differences in diet and culinary traditions from one valley to the next literally defined by landscape and microclimate.
In Provence, like Sicily, lamb is especially sought after when the lamb is raised in the traditional ‘milk fed’ way. Meaning the sheep roam free grazing on wild herbs, giving birth high up in the hills to lambs who suckle only on their mother’s milk. The milk is free from any added growth hormones or antibiotics.
It was years ago on the Island of Ischia that I first had slow roasted lamb cooked with aromatic honey and wild rosemary. It was sensational and not surprisingly I found lamb being cooked in a similar way up in the hills over Nice. This version cooks in the oven on a bed of potatoes and onions. The meat remains tender and moist from the lengthy, slow cooking process.
- Serves 6
- Nudo Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 5/6 good sized sprigs of really fresh rosemary
- Shoulder of spring lamb, 1.5kg - 2kg/ 3.3 - 4.4 lbs
- Garlic cloves, 3 peeled and sliced into little sticks
- Roasting potatoes, 1kg/ 2.2 lbs peeled and cut into large chunks and coated in Nudo Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Red onions, 1kg/ 2.2 lbs peeled and roughly cut
- White wine, 250ml/ 8.5 fl oz
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Aromatic natural runny honey, 4/6 tablespoons -depending on the size of the joint
You need a good sized roasting tin - the lamb needs to fit in snugly and the potatoes must be able to form a good layer in the bottom
Heat the oven to 220°C/Fan 200°C/Gas 7/425°F
- Use a sharp knife to cut slits into the lamb’s skin deep enough to score into the flesh.
- Break two sprigs of rosemary into 2cm/ 3/4 inch pieces and stuff them and the garlic sticks into the slits getting them deep into the flesh. Season the lamb with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
- Fill the bottom of a roasting tin with the chopped potatoes and onions and two roughly broken up sprigs of rosemary and season with sea salt.
- Pour about 200ml/ 6.7 fl oz of the wine over the lamb and using the last rosemary sprig as a brush, cover the lamb with the honey, leaving some aside to baste the joint whilst it roasts.
- Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the lamb starts to colour. Then cover the lamb with baking parchment and reduce the heat to 160°C/fan 140°C/gas 3/ 320°F and roast for another 3 hours or until the lamb is a deep rich brown.
- Every hour use the rosemary sprig to add a little more honey and add more wine ( and then water if you need more liquid) if the vegetables look like they need a little more moisture. Rest before serving.
Serve with Spring Greens
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