Lamb for lunch

With tempting fresh lamb in the shops, now is the time to face up to that ‘sword of Damocles’ hanging over you and ring the people you have been meaning to invite for longer than you care to remember without squirming. Weekend lunch is ideal because you don’t have to prepare a starter course, people drink less and go earlier and, best of all, you don’t miss Britain’s got Talent.

A normal leg of lamb will feed about 8 people. Get a very sharp knife and slit it deeply (a good ½ inch or 2 cms.) diagonally across the whole length. Prod a small – or half a large – garlic clove in each and top that with an anchovy fillet. Finally, liberally smother the whole leg in a mixture of butter, oil and mixed herbs or thyme. Place in a roasting tin surrounded by any vegetables you might want to roast at the same time such as onions, carrots, leeks, turnip chunks and roast in quite a hot oven for at least 1 ¾ hours until it looks satisfyingly dark brown on top.

Spoon the juices over it as often as you can remember and then let it rest, covered in tin foil, for at least half an hour while you join your guests. Use frozen potatoes to save you stress – they are excellent if cooked longer than it says and you just pop them in the same oven as the lamb.

Gravy is essential and so is redcurrant jelly, but forget about the mint sauce – the half empty jar will languish for years in the cupboard.

Any dessert is nice, but warm treacle tart (put in the oven when you switch it off) from the supermarket is a true British lunch pudding – with a lot of double cream. Deli or French cheese is also a real winner here – just to eat in the fingers with a few decorative grapes.

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