Baked saddle of lamb

Serves 8
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Indy Lifestyle Online

A saddle of lamb is the most expensive bit of the lamb, and deserves to be. Ask your butcher to bone it out, but leave it in one piece and give you the kidneys and bones, chopped up into smallish pieces, for the gravy. Make the gravy the day before or in the morning.

1 saddle of lamb, boned (keep bones for sauce)
A few sprigs of rosemary, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1tbsp olive oil

For the sauce

Kidneys from the lamb, plus a couple extra
4 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
A good knob of butter
150ml red wine
Bones from the lamb
1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 leek, trimmed, roughly chopped and washed
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1tbsp tomato purée
1 1/2 tbsp flour
3 litres beef stock (a good cube will do)
10 black peppercorns
A few sprigs of rosemary
1 bay leaf

Pre-heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. I know that the following sauce recipe is similar to last week's, when I was talking about accompaniments to turkey, but it's worth repeating because it's so easy and effective. Bones make the base for this great sauce - and I hate throwing them away. None of your Bisto nonsense here.

Roast the bones and the vegetables for about 15-20 minutes until lightly coloured, giving them a good stir every so often. When they are a nice golden-brown colour, add the tomato purée, then the flour and stir well with the bones and vegetables in the roasting pan. Return the pan to the oven for another 10 minutes.

Remove the roasting tray from the oven and add a little of the stock and give it a good stir over a low flame. This will remove any residue from the tray and begin the thickening process. Transfer everything into a large saucepan, cover with the rest of the beef stock and some cold water if the stock doesn't cover the bones and add the peppercorns, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to the boil, skim off any scum that forms and simmer for 1 hour. The gravy may need topping up with water to keep the ingredients covered. Skim occasionally as required.

Strain through a fine-meshed sieve and remove any fat with a ladle. Check its strength and reduce it if necessary. If the gravy is not thick enough, dilute some cornflour in a little cold water and stir in to thicken.

To prepare and cook the lamb

Once your lamb has been boned, you will have two flaps either side of the eyes of the meat. Trim any excess fat from the flaps with a carving knife. Season the lamb, mix the garlic with the olive oil, season and smear the mixture over the meat. Re-form the meat into the original shape of the saddle and trim off any excess of the flaps, then tie the lamb about 4-5 times with string.

Pre-heat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Pre-heat a roasting tray in the oven with a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil for about 10 minutes. Season the lamb and place in the tray and roast for approximately 1 hour, turning the lamb after 7-8 minutes.

Leave the lamb to rest for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, dice the kidneys into rough 1/2cm cubes, heat a frying pan and gently cook the shallots in the butter for a minute or so until soft. Then turn the heat up, add the kidneys and stir well for a minute. Remove the kidneys and shallots from the pan, add the red wine and reduce until it has almost evaporated, then add the sauce and simmer for a minute. Add the kidneys and shallots and re-season if necessary. When you are about to serve it, cut the string, place on a large board and carve the lamb into 2-3cm slices so that each person gets a slice. Serve with some greens such as sprout tops or a mixture of winter greens.

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