Monday, February 15, 2010

roses are rare, lamb is too

Special guest appearance written by the lovely Lewi

Yesterday morning, my brand new flatmate Chantelle and I opened our front door expecting a sea of red roses on our doorstep – but alas the doorstep was bare. Consoling ourselves that all the florists in Wellington must be on strike, we headed down Mt Vic to the Sunday market by Te Papa. We bought a lovely small leg of lamb from the Wai-ora Farms stall to cook for an anti-Valentine's Day feast - not that we were bitter or anything!

Later in the day I set about stuffing the lamb with a recipe from Rachel Grisewood's lovely bright cookbook; Manna from Heaven. Rachel Grisewood owns a cafe of the same name in Melbourne and all the recipes I've tried from her book have been super tasty.

The stuffing was really quick to make especially with the live basil (as opposed to my dead basil) that our flat has inherited along with the lovely Chantelle. I'm not really into anchovies so I left them out. I'm glad I did as the olives and bacon provided enough saltiness. I didn't use the full amount of oil to cook the garlic and bacon as I didn't want to undo our respective visits to Les Mills that day. I guess if you use the full amount of oil it might bind the stuffing together a bit more though. But in saying that, I liked it how the stuffing broke up when you carved the lamb as it meant that you had tasty morsels of bacon, olives and pine nuts in every mouthful.
By the time the lamb was cooked I was a little bit light-headed as the recipe encourages you to drink wine while the lamb cooks - and we did have a few sorrows to drown what with the florist strike and all. So in my hungry state it meant that the lamb didn't rest for the recommended 20 minutes but it was plenty flavoursome anyway. Chantelle prepared roast baby potatoes and a green salad to go with the lamb. We decided that it would be a perfect dinner party recipe or perhaps one to cook for my future lover next Valentines Day!

Stuffed leg of lamb with pine nuts and olives (serves 6)

1.5kg leg of lamb, butterflied
100ml olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
6 streaky bacon rashers, diced
50g anchovy fillets (I didn't use these)
100g fresh breadcrumbs
50g pine nuts
50g kalamata olives
1 handful of basil leaves, roughly chopped
1 handful of flat leaf (Italian) parsley leaves, roughly chopped
sea salt and cracked black pepper
6 rosemary sprigs
1 1/2 750ml bottles of light red wine (Beaujolais or Cote du Rhone-Villages)

Set the oven to 160C. Lay out the lamb, skin side down, on a chopping board and make small incisions in the thicker parts to create an even thickness for cooking. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and gently fry the garlic until just golden. Add the bacon and cook until crisp and brown. Tip the garlic and bacon into a large bowl and add the anchovies (if you chose to use them), breadcrumbs, pine nuts, olives, basil and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and give the mixture a big stir. Spread the stuffing in a sausage shape along the middle of the lamb. Fold up the sides of the lamb to enclose the stuffing and form a rough cylinder shape; it will not look glamorous. Tie at regular intervals with a butcher’s string to hold the shape and keep the stuffing in place.

Transfer the lamb to a large roasting tin, scatter on the rosemary and pour half a bottle of wine over the top. Roast for 3-4 hours, pouring more wine over the lamb now and then until all the wine has been added or the lamb is very tender. Rest the lamb for about 20 minutes to allow the meat to relax and the flavours to mingle.


  1. Welcome Lewi! Your lamb looks lovely,even in its raw state...I might have to check out the Manna from Heaven book again after hearing it gets your seal of approval.

  2. What a lovely Valentines Day treat Lewi! So much better than roses.

  3. Ohh... hello lovely Lewi.. nice to see you here too. Love love love this blog.. sit day dreaming over the food and the lifestyle while cocooned in layers eating toast for tea in Londonini


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