Roasted or slow-cooked lamb is very popular in Sicily. The rosemary, thyme, lemon and garlic stuffed into the lamb give this winter dish a wonderful flavour. The sauce is buttery and complements the meat beautifully. If you can find full-flavoured ripe tomatoes, use them; if not, tinned tomatoes will work just as well.
Serves 6–8 as a main
1 × 1.5 kg lamb leg
8 cloves garlic, peeled
1½ tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1½ tablespoons chopped thyme
3 teaspoons chopped rosemary, plus one large sprig
¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil sea salt and freshly ground
6 large ripe tomatoes or 2 × 400 g tins peeled tomatoes
1 cup (250 ml) water
100 g butter, chopped
- Use a small, sharp knife to make 6 incisions into the lamb. Finely chop together the garlic, lemon zest, half of the thyme and half of the rosemary. Mix with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper, stirring until a rough paste is formed. Take a small amount of the paste and push it into the incisions in the lamb, then rub the rest of the paste all over the lamb and place the large sprig of rosemary on top. Leave the lamb in the fridge to marinate for at least 2 hours. (I usually tie the lamb with kitchen twine to allow easier slicing.)
- Meanwhile, if you are using fresh tomatoes, score the base of each one with a cross and remove the eye, then place in a heatproof bowl. Cover with boiling water and leave for 15 seconds or until the skin starts to come away from the flesh, then drain and refresh in iced water. Peel off the skins and remove the seeds, then set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Place the lamb and the water in a roasting pan and roast for 40 minutes; the water in the pan should be bubbling. Remove the lamb from the pan, cover with foil and set aside. Mix the tomato with the remaining thyme and rosemary, then add to the pan along with the butter. Season with a little salt and pepper, then roast the tomato for 20 minutes.
- Return the lamb to the pan, cover with foil and roast for another 45 minutes or until cooked to your liking; the lamb should still be a little pink in the middle (but you may want to keep it in the oven for a further 5–10 minutes). Remove the lamb and set aside, covered, to rest for 10 minutes. Serve with sauce from the roasting pan.
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