Slow Roasted Lamb

slices of roast lamb with coriander and lime pesto

I recently asked readers to share their favourite foods with me

One of my all time favourites has to be slow roasted lamb. My mother used to do a pot roast with leg of lamb, flavoured with garlic, lemon and fresh thyme. A classic combination, but it was ‘exotic’ to us growing up in house where virtually every meal, save breakfast was a curry. Except when it was a breyani. Everything could be, and is, curried. Mushrooms? A dry braised mushroom and onion curry. Green beans, pumpkin, potato, cabbage, spinach- the same. Pasta, on the rare occasion – spicy chicken Alfredo sauce. Green banana (a rare delicacy), would also be curried, if not sliced lengthwise, coated in a spicy batter and deep fried till golden and puffy on the outside and tender on the inside. Chicken and mutton curries would feature regularly each week. Fish curry (and crab or prawn on special occasions) made an appearance on cold and rainy days. Even the soup (rusam of which there are several varieties) was fiery and guaranteed to ‘fix a head cold’.

So roasts (which we enjoyed once a fortnight), felt very special and delightfully ‘foreign’ to my brother and I.

On a recent visit to Prince Albert, I brought back a Karoo leg of lamb and this was one of the nicest roasts I’ve made- tender and succulent. I was informed by Dr Sue Milton, a Karoo botanist and area expert that to carry the label ‘Karoo’, the lambs and sheep must feed on what is known as skaapbossie or sheep bush. I’m pretty certain it contributes to the taste of the meat too.

Slow roasted leg of Lamb

lamb and pesto

Serves 6- many


1.8 kg leg of lamb
2 tsp crushed ginger and garlic paste<
6-8 cloves garlic, peeled
1 lemon zested and halved
3 T olive oil
1/2 cup water
50g butter, cut into cubes.
salt to taste


Heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Rinse and pat leg of lamb dry with paper towels.
Rub ginger and garlic paste, lemon zest and salt all over. Drizzle with juice of the lemon and coat in olive oil.

Make small incisions throughout and tuck the garlic cloves in.
You could use the traditional method of browning the leg on all sides before you cover in foil and bake. I’ve done it both ways, it makes no tangible difference with this method and this particular type of lamb.
Line a roasting tray with heavy duty foil – add lamb in the center. Gather the foil over the lamb, as if to enclose it. Add water and lemon halves before you seal tightly. Make two gashes at the top to facilitate steam escaping.

Bake for 2.5hours, turning lamb two or three times during cooking. Do take care with the steam escaping when opening up the foil.

Discard foil and drain cooking liquid and set aside (skim off fat and add to a roux to make a delicious gravy. I did this as well- nothing beats pan juice gravy).
Dot butter over the lamb, reserving a few cubes. Bake in the pan uncovered for 15-20 min per side at 200 degrees Celsius to brown, adding remaining butter to the other side when you flip it over.

Serve with roast potatoes and gravy or this very zingy, summery pesto- that will make a fabulous addition to left over sliced lamb sandwiches. This is a rough guide on quantities- I made enough for 4 servings.

Zesty Coriander and Lime Pesto


18 g coriander, with stalks unless they’re thick
2 salad onions, snipped
handful of walnuts, pan- toasted (you could use pine nuts too)
grated Parmesan cheese to taste
1 lime, zested and juiced
30ml olive oil
salt to taste


Whizz all the ingredients together, except the oil, with a hand held blender or processor.Add oil gradually till the pesto forms the consistency you desire. Add more oil if necessary and continue to blend. Check seasoning.
Serve with slices of lamb.

it’s the skaapbossie

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