How to make perfect roast lamb, by Gizzi Erskine

'I’m back into having my leg of lamb served pink with a charry crust' says the chef.

Over the past few years, I think we’ve become obsessed with a slow roast – I’m back into having my leg of lamb served pink with a charry crust by cooking it for less than an hour and resting it for a long time. I’m more interested in my accompaniments – and gravy. If I have bad gravy when I go out, I get livid.

Roast leg of lamb

I’d pierce the leg of lamb all over, maybe 30 to 40 times, and put in twirly bits of rosemary, squashed together with garlic and anchovy. Rub it with vegetable oil, season and put it in a really hot oven for 15 minutes, then turn down to 170˚C/325˚F/gas mark 3 for 40 minutes for your average leg of lamb. Rest it for half an hour.


Gravy’s the most important thing for me. I make it in the pan the lamb was roasted in, with really good fresh stock made with lots of roasted bones. Use a tiny bit of flour to emulsify and thicken it, plus a glass of white wine, maybe half a glass of red. Cook it until it’s stick-your-lips-together gelatinous – almost tacky – and pour in all the excess lamb juices.

Roast potatoes

My mum’s trick is to use a blend of goose fat and vegetable oil – it’s almost deep-frying them in the oven. It’s obscene, but it makes really good roast potatoes.


I’d serve the lamb with a flageolet gratin, similar to a Dauphinoise, but with flageolet beans. Toss the cooked beans with cream, milk, garlic, rosemary, bay, salt and pepper. Put them in a low gratin dish, cover with Gruyère and cook in a hot oven until it’s bubbled up and got a nice crust.

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I like my vegetables quite simple; roasted parsnips that I do similarly to the potatoes, so they’re almost deep-fried, and whole carrots with the hair on. I roast them in butter, with a splash of either carrot or orange juice, or wine, for about 25 minutes. They’re poached to begin with, then the liquid eventually becomes a glaze.

I also like a pickled red cabbage; my book, Season’s Eatings, has a lot of these recipes in. It’s shredded, cooked in a bit of vinegar, brown sugar, juniper berries and allspice, and cooked down for about an hour.


If I’m going to do it, I want to do it all properly — redcurrant jelly, mint jelly, mint sauce and onion sauce. I’m a stickler, though; loads of my friends don’t get it, but I only want Yorkshires with roast beef.