Spicy slow-roast lamb – or why I love Nigel Slater



20070210_nigelslaterslowroastlamb_3Some of you may have been wondering where the leftover roast lamb came from that I used to make very-un-traditional lamb Stroganoff last week.  Well, wonder no more.

This is not the first time I have waxed lyrical about Nigel Slater on this blog.  I’m sure I recall saying somewhere that if the house were on fire and I could only save one cookbook, it would be his Kitchen Diaries, and I stand by that choice.

So why do I love him so much?  Let me count the ways.

Because he tends to be self-deprecating rather than other chefs and food writers who tend to be stridently self-promoting.

Because the photographs of food in his Kitchen Diaries represent food that is actually going to be eaten, not raw chicken crisped with a blowtorch and sprayed with glycerin by food stylists.

Because his diaries are the perfect format to follow and apreciate the ebb and flow of seasonal eating without making a big issue out of it.

Because his recipes are unfussy and look achievable – no granitas or foams or towers – yet richly flavoured and satisfying.

Because nothing of his that I have ever made has turned out badly.

So yes, you could say I’m a fan… and this dish only confirms my belief in the man.  When the weekend is cold and rainy and you have friends coming over for lunch, what can be more satisying than a leg of lamb, rubbed with spices and left to cook long and slow, till the meat falls off the bones at the mere touch of a fork? Served on cunningly clever chickpea mash with paprika (recipe to follow in a future post) with honey glazed cumin carrots, it simply does not get better than this.

For more luscious lamb recipes, have a look at:




SLOW-ROAST LAMB20070210_nigelslaterslowroastlambse


a leg of lamb (about 2.3 kg)
1 large onion, roughly chopped
a few sprigs of fresh roesmary
2 cloves of garlic
1 Tbs sea salt flakes
a pinch of sweet paprika
1 Tbs cumin seeds
2 Tbs thyme leaves
2 Tbs olive oil
a thick slice of butter


Pre-heat the oven to 160C and start making the spice rub.  Peel the garlic cloves and lightly crush them together with the salt using a pestle and mortar. Add the paprika, cumin seeds and thyme leaves.  Gradually add the oil so as to end up with a thickish paste.  Melt the butter in a small pan and stir into the spce paste.

Put the lamb in a casserole dish or roasting tin and rub it all over with the spice paste.  I don’t mind getting my hands dirty but if you are squeamish you can use the back of a spoon.  make a few holes in the flesh with a skewer and insert sprigs of rosemary.  Scatter the chopped onion around the meat and put the roasting tin in the oven for 35 minutes uncovered.

Pour in 250ml water and baste the meat with the liquid, then continue roasting for a further three hours, basting the meat every hour with the juices that have collected in the bottom of the pan.

After 3 hours, remove the pan from the oven and pour off the top layer of oil that has collected, leaving the cloudy, herby sediment.  Cover the pan with a lid ans set aside for ten minutes to rest.  Carve the lamb and serve with chickpea mash, spooning the pan juices over both as you go.

NOTESThe addition of the onions and the rosemary are mine.  If you want to leave anything out, leave out the rosemary.  The flavour of the onion is indispensible in my opinion.  The vaguely Middle-Eastern flavour of the spice rub is just sublime with the lamb, cooking to a crispy crust on the outside while the meat turns soft as butter during that long slow cooking process.  A keeper.

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  1. says

    Slow cooked if the best. Shoulder of lamb works great like this too – and you get more crispy fat (healthy).
    I use lamb neck for my casserole – because it has so much bone you get that lamb flavour from the bones in the sauce, and mor tender. Leg always seems a bit dry even doing it like this. The same cooking time as above Let the meat cool out of the sauce. Debone it (with gloves if you don’t have asbestos hands), mix the meat back into the sauce, saving the bones for lamb stock & soup, add some dried apricots and there’s something different.

  2. Angela says

    You know, I’ve had an urge to cook a leg of lamb all week long. This looks absolutely fantastic and chickpeas too! Now I just need to (a) go to the butchers and (b) invite many people round to eat….
    Hooray for Nigel!

  3. Boogs says

    Got to get the book – my pet hate is “foams” ugh ! who wants to eat something that is foaming?!
    Love reading your blogs.

  4. Sarah Pipilini says

    OH MY GOD doll! This time you have gone and done it! I’m sitting here in a wet, commiserable Brussels and just one look at that formiddable piece of meat-on-the-bone not only got my juices flowing but has now forced me to leap up and go find food!
    You are gifted my dear! I am of the belief that you should drop your editor-in-chief job, don your naked-chef-lookalike apron and become a food stylist/author of internationally accoladed note!!
    (Just think of all the chickens you could spray with glycerin and torch?)
    I remain, as always, yours from the heart of my cockles

  5. says

    Great minds do indeed think alike – this leg of lamb looks superb! I don’t have any Nigel Slater books but this post has persuaded me that I must ask Father Christmas to put one in my stocking (if I can wait until the 25th December – I might have to race out and buy one tomorrow!)

  6. says

    Hi Andrew
    Agree 100%. I knew there was a reason wny you and I get on so well :)
    Hi James
    WOW, that sounds wonderful. I love the addition of apricots too – thanks for sharing the recipe!
    Hi Angela
    Oh, don’t put it off till you have guests – I’ve found that you can get pretty small lamb cuts, perfect for dinner for two and a bit left over for, say, lamb Stroganoff 😉
    Hi Charlotte
    Kitchen Diaries rocks, to be sure. And do yourself a favour – just try this lamb!!
    Hi Boogs
    Hate foams? Then this is the book for you. Not a poncey recipe in sight :)
    Hi Sarah
    Sweetie, you need to get out more!!! But thanks for the compliments :)
    Hi Saju
    Hi Robyn
    Oh, don’t even start. I can’t imagine how sublime thos would be with real, herby Karroo lamb. Why, oh why didn’t I eat more of it when I lived at home??
    Hi Ronell and Antonia
    I suggest putting this book in your letter to Santa ASAP – you won’t regret it :)
    Hi Inge
    His book is a real treasure, isn’t it? And you could probably cook out of it every day because it’s honest and simple food, not too rich or too fancy.
    Hi Gill
    Excellent choice for Christmas – and do try the recipe. It is just marvellous!

  7. Andy Burton says

    I have made this a couple of times and it is amazing, however on my second attempt i substituted the water with chicken stock and it really did bring in a whole new dimension of flavour. Brilliant recipe, thank you!

  8. says

    Me too! I lovelovelove Nigel. I love it that he says, “you’re just making something to eat”. He and Jamie Oliver have done a lot to de-mystify cooking, IMHO. Plus I love the way he cooks–fresh ingredients, not fussy, but always always delicious. With the brown bits…

  9. says

    I just saw this recipie on the guardian website. Im a big fan of lamb, especially slow cooked. Im a little wary of adding the cumin, but am going to give it a wurl tonight. Im thinking of cooking for 6 hours on a really really low heat instead….

  10. says

    Lamb is my favorite meat, especially when its roast over fire with spices. And I’m totally agree with you, I prefer pictures of Real food, not “designed” food you can’t reproduce at home!

  11. says

    Jeanne, that was lovely! I had just over a kilogram of lamb pieces (“lamb with bones” and “lamb loin”), and omitted the water – didn’t need it at all, as was cooking it in the Dutch oven in my oven. Lovely!

    Thank you for the hint. Will dig out the book again and find something else to cook over the weekend..