Spring lamb has not had time to become flavoursome. So it is a great opportunity to add some bold flavours of your own.
Slow-cooked lamb is always delicious. And by cooking the potatoes a day in advance you won’t be tied to the kitchen when your guests arrive. This dish goes particularly well with a mustard and sherry vinegar-dressed rocket salad as the acidity cuts through the richness of the dish. It can also be prepared ahead.
If you are looking for a more complicated time heavy recipe try the rather special roast loin of lamb with asparagus, goat’s cheese and lavender vinaigrette as an alternative. Or for the barbecue, a chilli spiced butterfly of lamb is a great crowd pleaser.
SLOW-COOKED LAMB WITH SHERRY AND SAFFRON POTATOES
For the slow-cooked lamb
■ 1 tbsp olive oil
■ 2kg (4lb 61⁄2oz) lamb shoulder on the bone
■ 2 red onions
■ 2 sprigs thyme
■ 5 bay leaves
■ 200ml (7fl oz) dry sherry
■ 200ml (7fl oz) dry white wine
■ Salt and pepper
For the saffron potatoes
■ 1⁄2 tsp saffron
■ 150ml (5fl oz) olive oil
■ 2 white onions, diced into 1cm (1⁄2in) cubes
■ 2 green peppers, diced as above
■ 6 bay leaves
■ 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
■ 1kg (2lb 3oz) new potatoes, cut in half lengthways
■ 150ml (5fl oz) dry white wine
For the slow-cooked lamb pre-heat the oven to 165°C/330°F/Gas Mark 3. In a frying pan, heat the oil then sear the lamb on all sides on a medium heat until nicely browned then transfer to a roasting dish skin-side down.
Peel and slice the onions into thin crescents and add to the lamb along with the thyme, bay leaves, sherry and white wine. Season then cover with baking paper followed by foil.
Bake in the oven for two hours, remove, turn the lamb to skin-side up, baste with the juices and cover with the paper and foil.
Bake for another two hours until the meat is tender. Take off the paper and foil, put the lamb back in and increase the oven temperature to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and roast for a further 15 to 20 minutes (you want the skin to crisp up a little). Remove the slow-cooked lamb from the oven, lightly cover and leave to rest for 15 minutes or until you are ready to serve.
Next, cook the potatoes (alternatively, they can be cooked a day in advance and then reheated in a large pan when needed). This may seem like an unusual way to cook potatoes but the end flavour is magnificent.
In a small bowl, mix the saffron with 50ml (2fl oz) of just-boiled water and put to one side.
Put the oil, onions, peppers, bay leaves and garlic into a large saucepan and fry on a medium heat for about five minutes, giving it an occasional stir; you want the onions to just soften.
Add the potatoes and white wine, season with salt and pepper then put a lid on.
Stir the potatoes every five minutes until cooked (about 20 minutes) then take off the heat. Add the saffron and its water to the potatoes and stir through.
Leave for at least 15 minutes before serving to allow the flavours to combine and penetrate the potatoes.
When ready to eat, serve chunks of slow-cooked lamb with its sherry/onion sauce and spoonfuls of the saffron potatoes.