This is a classic lamb roast recipe from Morocco which is very popular in France.
It is often eaten with couscous and a traditional Moroccan dish of vegetables in a broth full of spices. The principle is very simple. You make a deliciously fragrant pasty rub and massage the meat with it. Then you cook it to your liking. I like it pink or medium to medium-rare.
I’m a spice collector. Wendell made me a bespoke spice rack which is 60cm wide and goes from floor to ceiling. Each spice is stocked in a Bonne Maman jam jar. My favourite way to store spices is to keep them whole. They’re even better when they come from the garden, grown in a cage to protect them from possums, birds and the neighbours’ rabbits (if you’re reading this Sandra, no hard feeling ;)
My way of storing spices if far from the best. It should be away from the light but I use them so much, they don’t have time to get old. That being said, spices age much faster when they’re ground.
When spices are whole, they are much tastier when freshly ground, just before making a dish. It can be done using a mortar and pestle (or food processor). If you have ground spices instead, it doesn’t matter. It will be less fragrant but still very good.
In this recipe I use: whole coriander seeds, whole cumin seeds and ground sweet paprika.
Once the spices have been ground, the garlic crushed, and the butter put at room temperature, you mix them together.
It makes a beautiful paste.
Spread the paste on the boneless leg and scored skin. (I bought it scored)
You might want to use a leg with bone, it’s harder to cut but tastier.
If you’re not a hands-on type of cook you can use a spoon to spread the paste all over. I like to use my fingers and massage the beast.
When it’s all done, just cut one onion or two, have a little play with the onion (or not) and put in the hot oven.
- 2 kilos leg of lamb at room temperature (or cook longer)
- 100g butter at room temperature
- 1 tsp olive oil + a dash for oven dish
- 3 garlic cloves crushed
- 2 full tbs whole (or ground) cumin
- 2 tbs whole (or ground) coriander
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 1 or 2 brown onions chopped in rings
- Salt (to crack freshly before serving)
- Pre-heat oven to 220°C (425°C)
- Score the lamb's fat (not deeply, only the fat, don't prick the meat or it won't be as juicy).
- Ground cumin seeds with a mortar and pestle or food processor and keep a few pinches aside for serving.
- Ground the coriander.
- Mix ground coriander, ground cumin, paprika, garlic, olive oil and butter to make a paste.
- Pour a dash of olive oil in an oven dish. Place the leg in it. Move the leg around to spread the oil, you can even massage the leg with oil.
- Spread the paste with a spoon and massage the whole leg. (You don't have to use your hands if you don't want to, use a spoon or spatula :)
- Place a few onion rings on top and the rest on the sides.
- Bake for 10 mins in the oven pre-heated to 220°C (425°C).
- Baste the lamb.
- Lower the oven to 180°C (325°F).
- If you want to use a probe and get the perfect medium/medium rare lamb, let it reach an inside temperature of 51 to 57°C (125 to 135°F). It takes about 12 to 15 mins per 500g at 160°C (325°F).
- Take it out of the oven. Cover with a sheet of foil and a tea towel. Let it rest for 15 to 20 mins.
- Slice and serve, sprinkled with cracked salt and freshly ground cumin, accompanied by cooked vegetables, couscous, salad, or any fancy idea.