Thursday, August 30, 2007

Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Anchovy, Prosciutto and Parsley

You simply can't visit North Wales without enjoying at least one meal involving the finest of Welsh lamb (unless you are a vegetarian of course). Driving up to Abersoch, through the mountains of Snowdonia National Park gives you a taste of what awaits. As you drive along the the perilous mountain roads, clattering over cattle grids and marvelling at the fabulous views you see literally thousands of sheep. In fact, you must take care not to hit them as you take in the scenery - they make a point of standing right in the road and refusing to move until you are literally inches away.

As a child, travelling up at Easter and seeing the many gambolling lambs, I used to balk slightly when Larry the lamb was dished up on Easter Sunday. Fortunately the delicious flavour soon made me forget my sensitivities.

After the six hour drive last week I was delighted to be greeted by wonderful lamb chops cooked by my mother and served with leeks in cheese sauce - heaven!

The meat came from Abersoch's excellent butcher - it has been run by the same family for years and everyone is on first name terms. During August, there is a permanent queue snaking out of the door onto the street as holiday-makers stock up on the good pre-marinated barbecue meats, homemade sausages and prime cuts of beef and lamb.

On Sunday I organised a barbecue for family to celebrate my birthday. I ordered a butterflied leg of lamb - so much easier to get it ready-boned from a good butcher. I probably paid a little extra for it but I was a) on holiday and was b) celebrating my birthday. A little laziness never hurt!

I prepared a delicious stuffing of anchovy, prosciutto and parsley - a strange sounding mixture, but one that works really well with the lamb and stands up well to the barbecue. This recipe comes from a book called 'Barbecue' by Eric Treuille and Birgit Erath. This really is a superb book for anyone who wants to venture beyond the 'burger and banger' type of barbecue. It is well illustrated with clear instructions and inspiring ideas.

Don't be put off by the anchovy if you don't like it. It doesn't taste of anchovy at all. The anchovies just give a deeply savoury flavour to the meat. Wonderful.

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

2kg leg of lamb, butterflied

60g prosciutto
6 anchovy fillets
1 handful flat-leaf parsley
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (plus 2tbsp extra for drizzling)

Also need 2 long, flat metal skewers

1. Place the prosciutto, anchovies, parsley and 1tbsp vinegar in a blender and pulse to a smooth paste.

2. Place lamb skin side down. With a sharp knife cut deep slits across the lamb, about 5cm apart. Stuff the paste right into the slits.

3. Insert skewers diagonally from opposite corers through butterflied lamb.

4. Grill over medium-hot coals, turning once, for 15 minutes each side for medium rare (longer for medium), drizzling over balsamic vinegar on both sides during cooking.

5. Once cooked, allow meat to rest, covered in foil, for 10 minutes. Slice and season with salt and pepper.

Notes -

I have made this recipe twice. The first time the lamb cooked perfectly - I did have to cover it with a lid. On this occasion I was impatient and put it on the grill too early, the fat caused the BBQ to flame too much so I place foil underneath the joint. It was a HUGE piece of meat (as you will see from the photo) and was taking ages to cook so in the end I threw it in a hot oven for 20 minutes. It was perfect!

The skewers help keep the meat together and make it easier to turn the meat over on the grill.


Margaret said...

What a lovely post and you have covered so much. Driving through the mountains is both scary and breathtaking. I've got that book -
I think I would cook the lamb in the oven first and then throw it on the BBQ. I cook large pieces of meat that way because we haven't got a lid on ours. Looks delicious.

Antonia said...

Thanks, Margaret. It is indeed a fairly steep drop to one side of the mountain road. We didn't have a lid on the BBQ this time so I should definately have started it off in the oven.