This Italian recipe for suckling lamb sings of family, says chef Robert Marchetti. "And of sharing. In my home we cook this at Easter time. You can only eat so many painted boiled eggs."
- 1 suckling lamb weighing about 6 kg, legs and saddle separated by your butcher, and legs tunnel-boned down to the shank (shank bones left in)
- ½ cup sea salt (preferably Sicilian)
- ½ cup sweet paprika
- extra virgin olive oil
- 6 punnets baby mache (lamb’s lettuce), or watercress if unavailable, leaves picked, washed and dried
- piece of fresh horseradish (or 1 tbsp horseradish paste)
- balsamic vinegar
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time 30 minutes
If you have a fan-forced oven, preheat it to 250°C. For a non fan-forced, preheat it to 270°C.
Combine the salt and paprika with enough oil to form a thick paste. Rub the paste all over the pieces of lamb, covering them thoroughly. Place the front legs and saddle on a wire rack set over a large tray, and the hind legs on a second rack set over a large tray.
Roast the lamb in the oven for 15 minutes or until a golden crust has formed. Turn the temperature down to 165°C for fan-forced, or 185°C for non fan-forced, and cook for a further 10–15 minutes. To check if the front legs and saddle are cooked, insert a skewer into the thickest part of the meat then remove it to see if the juices run clear. If so, remove the front legs and saddle from the oven. If not, leave in the oven with the hind legs and cook for a further 10–15 minutes, then check all the meat again. When all the meat is cooked, remove from the oven and leave to rest for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the mache leaves in a bowl and grate the horseradish over the top. Add a little extra virgin olive oil and a small splash of balsamic vinegar (if using horseradish paste, mix it with the vinegar first). Toss together.
Slice the warm lamb, place on a serving plate and top with the salad.