Lamb is typically eaten at Easter time, but it isn’t really the natural choice as our own lambs are still very young, so much of what’s eaten is imported to the UK. This year why not try something a little different and ask your butcher for mutton instead. As a twist on the usual roast dinner, we have swapped mint sauce for a fresh wild garlic pesto and added zesty lemon and olives to the roast potatoes. These bold and bright ingredients make a perfect contrast to the darker meat and richer flavour found in mutton.
1 leg mutton, on the bone, around 2-2.5kg
salt and pepper
5kg potatoes, such as Maris Piper
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
150ml vegetable or chicken stock (it’s fine to use a stock cube)
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 tsp coarse semolina
200g olives (drained weight), such as our Lemon, Basil and Mint
100g fresh wild garlic
4 tbsp Genovese Pesto
Remove the mutton from the fridge at least one hour before cooking, to allow it to come up to room temperature. Score any of the fattier pieces of skin then season well with salt and pepper. Heat your oven to 160C fan/180C nonfan.
If the olives have stones in them, it’s best to remove them. To do this, press down on the olives with a jar to flatten them, then remove the stone.
Cut the potatoes into large wedges. Finely chop the garlic to a paste or push through a garlic press, then mix with 150ml extra virgin olive oil, stock, oregano and the juice of 2 lemons in a bowl. Season well with salt and pepper then add the semolina. Place the potatoes in a large roasting tin and add the dressing and mix to coat the potatoes.
Place the potatoes in the lower part of the oven then place a rack slightly higher above them and lay the mutton leg onto this. This way, the potatoes have more exposure to crisp up and will absorb any of the meat juices. Roast for around 45 minutes, then take the potatoes out, moving them around and turning them over to expose other edges to the heat. Return to the oven and roast for a further 25 minutes. Depending on the size of the mutton and the heat of your oven, it should now be cooked but pink in the middle. The best way to check this is with a temperature probe, and the centre should be between 45C-50C. If you prefer it to be more cooked, then keep cooking. Allow the lamb to rest for 20-30 minutes, loosely covered with foil.
Once the mutton is cooked, check the potatoes, as they might need longer to crisp up. They should have absorbed all the liquid and be a dark golden colour. Once the meat is out of the oven, you can also turn the heat up to 180C fan/200C nonfan to give them a blast for 10 minutes.
Whilst the meat and potatoes are cooking, make the pesto. Wash the wild garlic thoroughly in cold water then drain and dry in a salad spinner. Roughly chop then place in a food processor or blender with the pesto, 4 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and the juice of half a lemon, and blitz until smooth. If you don’t have a food processor, chop the wild garlic as finely as possible, then mix with the other ingredients. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
When ready to serve, thinly slice the mutton, dress with the pesto and serve alongside the potatoes and either some other side vegetable dishes or a salad.