Roast lamb with garlic and mashed potatoes

A large leg of lamb is, more often than not, too much: too big, too long to cook, too hard to get perfectly pink all the way through. But, if you get your butcher to cut a leg into its individual segments, running his knife along the inner tracts of muscle and sinew and fibre, you will get all the delicious flavour of the leg in a fraction of the time, with none of the effort, and it will be wall-to-wall quality.

A leg will give you several pieces of varying sizes, the average fitting neatly into the palm of your hand. Certainly you can do this all yourself in half a day, but your friendly butcher will be happy to do it for you in a few minutes.

The largest piece is perfect for four people; the smallest, not much bigger and similar in shape to a banana, is ideal for two. The hit-and-miss nature of cooking large roasts — with all their different muscles — is eliminated, and the meat is very easy to carve.

They are also easy to stuff, if that be your way, and lend themselves beautifully to flavouring with herbs and, my favourite partner with lamb, garlic.

There is only one set of accompaniments to serve with lamb prepared like this — three veg, just like mum used to make. One of them must be mashed potato.

2 nuts of lamb from the leg is more than enough for 4 people

black pepper

several cloves of garlic, peeled and cut along their length as ‘bullets’


½ cup port or red wine


Make deep slits into the lamb with a sharp knife, and rub some pepper into the slits. Insert a garlic ‘bullet’ into each slit. Rub with olive oil.


Turn the oven to full bore. Heat a pan on top of the stove and sizzle the lamb in a little oil until it is brown all over. Salt lightly, and turn the pepper mill all over, not lightly. Place in the oven for about 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the lamb. Keep checking, even if you have to slice through the lamb to see whether it has been done. It should be right when it gives to the touch, without being wobbly. It should be removed from the oven before it is completely cooked, as the cooking process continues outside the oven. When it is just about right — warmed right through to the heart — turn off the oven and sit the lamb on the oven door.


Leave it to rest on a warmed plate for about 10 minutes, while you get the rest of the meal organised. Remember, the lamb must be served pink — don’t listen to your grandmother.


In the pan, splash in the port or wine, on a high heat, using a wooden spoon to remove any sediment left by the cooking of the lamb. Reduce heavily, adding salt and black pepper, and any juice which has run from the waiting lamb. Serve the sauce drizzled over the lamb slices.

WINE: Roast lamb and red are perfect partners. A couple of safe bets for this are Jamiesons Run from Coonawarra and Penfolds Bin 389.