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
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.
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.