The Italians love a Sunday roast as mush as the rest of the world. Slow roasted until melting and tender, and served with cheesy rosemary polenta, this dish is a great example of why winter is a time to be celebrated, no matter where you live.






Skill level

Average: 3.2 (55 votes)


  • 60 ml (¼ cup) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped mixed herbs, rosemary, thyme, sage, marjoram
  • 1.8 kg leg of lamb
  • 375 ml (1 ½ cups) white wine
  • 375 ml (1 ½ cups) chicken stock
  • 185 ml (¾ cup) veal stock
  • 1 bouquet garni (see Note)
  • green salad or steamed greens to serve   


  • 1 litre (4 cups) water
  • 1.25 litres (5 cups) milk
  • 2 garlic cloves, halved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 350 g polenta
  • 140 g parmesan, finely grated
  • 100 g unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
  • salt and pepper

Cook's notes

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.


Marinating time 2 hours

The following recipe has been tested and edited by SBS Food and may differ slightly from the podcast.

Combine the olive oil, garlic and mixed herbs and rub all over the lamb. Season to taste and marinate in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight. Remove the lamb from the fridge 1 hour before placing in the oven.

Preheat the oven to 230˚C.

Transfer the lamb to a deep baking dish and roast for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 150˚C.

Meanwhile, bring the wine to a boil in a small saucepan and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the chicken and veal stock and bring to the boil. Remove the lamb from the oven and pour the hot stock into the roasting tin. Add the bouquet garni and cover tightly with foil. Return the lamb to the oven and cook for 2½–3 hours until very tender and the meat falls easily from the bone.

Meanwhile, to make the polenta, combine the water, milk, garlic cloves and bay leaves in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove the garlic and bay leaves. Whisking constantly, slowly pour in the polenta. Continue to whisk until the polenta begins to thicken. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring regularly, for 30–35 minutes until soft and the polenta is no longer grainy. Add the butter, stir until combined, then add 100 g parmesan and rosemary. Season to taste, mix well then pour into a greased 22 cm x 32 cm baking tray. Allow to cool and firm up then cut into rounds or squares. Arrange polenta on a baking paper-lined oven tray and set aside.

Remove the lamb from the oven, pour the braising liquid into a small saucepan and set the lamb aside to rest, covered. Increase the oven to 220˚C. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan over the polenta, transfer the to the oven and cook for 15–20 minutes until the parmesan is golden and bubbling.

To make the sauce, skim the fat from the surface of the braising liquid and bring to the boil. Cook for 10-12 minutes until reduced by half. Season to taste.

To serve, roughly shred the lamb into large pieces and serve with polenta, reduced sauce and salad or steamed greens.


• A bouquet garni is a bunch of aromatic herbs, such as parsley stalks, thyme and bay leaves, tied together or wrapped in muslin and used to flavour stews and braises.


Photography by Alan Benson