Butterflied leg of Lamb, Herb Potato Salad and Summer Vegetable Ragout

lamb2

An early showing for a summer staple

It’s not summer yet, with snow this week I’m beginning to doubt whether it is even spring , but I couldn’t wait to cook this any longer. If forced to choose a favourite roast a butterflied leg of lamb would be near the top of the list – especially when cooked on a BBQ.

It’s still a little too chilly and the weather too unpredictable to break out the BBQ just yet, but briefly roasting a butterflied leg of lamb in a conventional oven, finished with a short blast under a hot grill still produces wonderful results. The key with the lamb to my mind is a nice long marinade, a hefty slug of seasoning, a brisk roast at a high heat followed by a good rest.

A butterflied leg of lamb is my go-to summer Sunday lunch joint. It’s not the cheapest cut but it is quick and easy to both cook and carve. Lamb lends itself to so many different cuisines that you can just change up the marinade and sides to fit your mood and what happens to be in season. I always try and cook enough so there are plenty of leftovers which are great flash fried and stuffed into pitta or flat breads with some salad, yoghurt and little chilli sauce for a quick Monday night meal.

The summer vegetable ragout in this dish should perhaps be called ratonata or capatouille as it suffers from a slight identity crisis finding itself somewhere between ratatouille and caponata. I actually probably make this more often than the other two combined, served at room temperature or even slightly chilled on a hot day it makes a perfect summer side dish. The leftovers served on bruschetta with a little torn mozzarella and basil make a great light lunch as well.

In an ideal world I would usually serve this with Pommes Parmentier or good old fashioned roast potatoes, but Sarah and I are getting married in just over 3 months time and we are trying to be healthier to get in shape for our big day, so I substituted in a (relatively) healthy crème fraîche and herb potato salad.

Normally I buy a ready butterflied leg of lamb from the butchers, but poor forward planning on my part meant the butchers had shut so I got a whole leg from the supermarket instead and did the butterflying myself.

Butterflying a leg of lamb is not a tricky technique but, like most things in life, should be approached in a confident, leisurely manner. Using the right knife for the job is key, a boning knife would be perfect of course but like most of us I don’t have one, so I just use my smallest, sharpest pairing knife.

I can’t find an instructional video which follows the same method I learnt, but this FoodTube video is probably the closest – I leave the shank on the joint however. Be sure to follow the safety tips he mentions, it is all too easy to cut yourself doing this so keep your fingers clear and take your time.

Bon appétit!

Recipe:

Prep time: Overnight
Cooking time: 1 hour
Serves: 4-6 portions

INGREDIENTS

For the butterflied leg of lamb:

1.5-2kg Leg of Lamb, butterflied
1 Lemon
1 Tbsp Fresh thyme, leaves picked
1 Tbsp Fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 Tbsp Freshly ground black pepper
4 Garlic cloves, crushed
1 Tsp Smoked paprika
2 Tsp Chilli flakes
1 Tsp Cayenne pepper
1 Tsp Mustard powder
1 Tsp Smoked garlic powder
2 Tbsp Freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt

For the herb potato salad:

1kg New potatoes
5 Tbsp Crème fraîche
3 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp Red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp Wholegrain mustard
1 Tbsp Cornichons
1 Tbsp Capers
6 Spring onions
15g Chives
15g Parsley
Tiny pinch of sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the summer vegetable ragout:

1 Aubergine
2 Courgettes
2 Red onions
1 Red pepper
1 Yellow pepper
200g Baby plum or cherry tomatoes
3 Garlic cloves
2 Bay leaves
1 Tbsp Fresh thyme leaves picked
1 Tsp Sugar
250g Passata
5 Tbsp Capers
50ml Red wine vinegar
50ml Balsamic vinegar
Small bunch of basil or parsley or a bit of both
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

METHOD

For the Butterflied Leg of Lamb:

If you have purchased a whole leg of lamb, butterfly it as described here. I leave the shank on the joint, but that is your call.

Zest the lemon and add to a bowl along with its juice. Add a good glug of extra virgin olive oil and the rest of the marinade ingredients, except the salt, and stir well. Place your lamb in suitably sized bag or non-reactive container and rub the marinade thoroughly all over the lamb. Leave to marinade in the fridge overnight if possible or at the very least a few hours.

Remove the lamb from the fridge an hour before you wish to cook it and crank your oven up to 220. Season the lamb liberally with salt and place skin side up in a roasting tin and cook for 30 mins, at this point you can either turn it and roast for a further 5 – 10 mins, or as I tend to do, turn the grill on to a high heat and char the lamb a little on each side for a couple of mins. Take out of the oven, cover with foil and leave to rest for at least 15 mins.

For the summer vegetable ragout:

Dice the aubergine, courgette, peppers and onion into similar sized pieces. It’s up to you how big but I like to keep them to a size where you get a couple of different vegetables in each spoonful.

Sweat each vegetable individually in a little olive oil for a few mins and set aside. Sweat the garlic in olive oil until fragrant and just starting to turn golden. Roughly chop the tomatoes and add to the garlic, continue to cook for a few mins until starting to break down. Add the passata, sugar, vinegars, bay leaves, thyme and a little salt and pepper to the pan and bring to a simmer. Add the reserved vegetables and simmer gently for 10-15 mins. Take off the heat and stir through the capers, taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Leave to cool to room temperature, roughly chop the herbs and stir through the ragout.

Herb potato salad:

Bring a large pan of salted boiling water to a boil. Halve your new potatoes or quarter the larger ones and boil until tender, 12-15 mins.

In the meantime add the extra virgin olive oil, vinegar and mustard to a mixing bowl and whisk well. Add the crème fraîche along with a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper and whisk again to fully incorporate. Finely chop the cornichons and spring onions and add to the dressing along with the capers and stir well, taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly.

When the potatoes have cooked, drain them and whist still warm mix with the dressing and combine everything well. Just prior to serving finely chop the chives and parsley and stir through the potatoes.

To serve:

Add a good spoonful of the potato salad and summer vegetables to a plate, thickly slice the lamb and add a 2 or 3 slices to each plate. Drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil and add a small pinch of salt and pepper to the lamb and serve.

Enjoy!

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2 thoughts on “Butterflied leg of Lamb, Herb Potato Salad and Summer Vegetable Ragout

  1. One of my favourite meals. You can use low fat Greek yogurt in the potato salad to make it even healthier. Roll on summer and all its bounties.

    Liked by 1 person

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