I first came across this recipe a number of years ago, it was a recipe I was both puzzled and intrigued by because I had never heard of such a combination. The cook in me was thinking ‘wow I must try this different and interesting way of roasting lamb’, and the less optimistic side of me was thinking ‘uggh anchovies and lamb!?’ Thankfully I chose to give it a whirl. And so should you.
There was a time when I was a less entrepreneurial cook, I thought the height of sophistication was tinned chicken in white sauce, and that somehow frying spurious meat derivatives in a pan and serving it with oven chips and over cooked eggs was a qualifying dish for a dinner party. I like to think that nowadays I have different set of skills, learned from years of mistakes, ups and downs, spillage’s, and burnt fingers, reading, watching and absorbing everything that comes my way. It is known that I have a less than perfect memory but this recipe has stuck with me since I first tasted it. It’s a punchy recipe, the strong flavours of garlic and rosemary are tempered by a slightly smokey BBQ taste given up by the anchovies. They loose all the fishy flavour and mellow into something different. Don’t ask me how or why, but it just works.
- 2KG leg of lamb
- 2 medium sized onions
- 3 garlic cloves
- 5 anchovy fillets in olive oil
- 2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 1 large glass of white wine
- 300ml water
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
1. First pre heat your oven to gas mark 4 (180°C/350°F) then take a small knife and make deep incisions all over the lamb. Slice the garlic cloves into slithers then slice the anchovy fillets in half. Cut the rosemary into roughly 1 inch long pieces. Now take a piece of garlic, a piece of rosemary and wrap a half of the anchovy around it, then stuff into one of the incisions. repeat this process all over until the anchovy fillets have gone. Any remaining pieces of garlic and rosemary can go in the roasting pan.
2. Slice the onions thickly and lay in the bottom of the roasting pan, then place your lamb on top. Drizzle a little of the oil from the anchovy container over the lamb and smear it until coated. Season with plenty of pepper and salt (be careful with the salt as anchovies contain a lot of salt). Finally add the glass of wine and water to the bottom of the pan, cover the whole thing with foil and roast for around 3 hours, basting every half an hour with the fat and juices. For the last half an hour remove the foil and turn the oven up to gas mark 7 (220°C/425°F).
3. Once cooked cover with foil and leave to rest for a good half an hour. Strain off the juices and onions into a pan and discard the onions. Reduce the juices by about a ¼, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed then serve with the lamb.