Leg of lamb baked in seaweed recipe

This is a dish that chef Valentine Warner and I cooked in Norway a couple of years ago with local mountain lamb. Of course we don’t have any mountains or wild lamb in the south-west, but we do have fantastic coastal organic lamb such as that from Downhouse Farm in Bridport, which grazes on wild herbs and has a fantastic flavour, especially when baked in seaweed.

All of our inshore seaweed is edible and just needs to be rinsed well of any sand. As it bakes, it becomes crispy to make an edible garnish. Forage it yourself, or you can follow the same method with hay (buy it in pet shops or garden centres); just soak it before using. I love cooking this in my outdoor wood-fired oven as it becomes a talking point. The sauce is great to have to hand for grilled meats, fish or vegetables. If you grow mint, parsley and basil in the garden, then it really is cheap to make, too.

Prep time: 15 minutes | Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes, plus resting

SERVES

Four to six

INGREDIENTS

For the lamb

  • 1 leg of lamb, weighing about 1-1.2kg, boned and rolled
  • A little vegetable oil
  • 1 head of new-season garlic, or a few normal garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • A couple of good handfuls of seaweed, well washed
  • Sea beet or other greens, blanched, to serve

For the green sauce (makes about ½ litre)

  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed, or 60-70g wild-garlic leaves, washed and dried
  • 60-70g flat-leaf or curly parsley, stalks and all, washed and dried
  • 60-70g mint leaves, washed and dried
  • 60-70g basil, stalks and all, carefully washed and dried if dirty
  • 2 tbsp Tewkesbury or grain mustard
  • 80g large capers, rinsed
  • 250ml rapeseed oil

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas mark 7.
  2. Season the lamb with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat a little vegetable oil in a heavy frying pan large enough to fit the lamb until almost smoking. Seal the lamb on all sides until nicely browned, then remove from the pan.
  3. Make nine or 10 incisions about 1cm deep through the skin of the lamb and insert a slice of garlic in each.
  4. Put the lamb into a roasting tray and pack the seaweed around it. Cook it in the oven for 35 minutes, then turn the oven down to 190C/170C fan/gas mark 5 and cook for another 40 minutes for medium-rare. If you are cooking in an outdoor oven, the times will vary as they do get pretty hot. Meanwhile, put all of the sauce ingredients in a liquidiser or food processor, coarsely blend, then season to taste.
  5. To serve, remove any non-crisp seaweed from the lamb and return it to the oven to crisp up. Leave the lamb to rest for 15 minutes or so before carving and serving with the crisp seaweed and your choice of greens, and the sauce.
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