Wine-Roast Saddle of Lamb

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Appears in

Food of the Sun: A Fresh Look at Mediterranean Cooking

Food of the Sun

By Alastair Little and Richard Whittington

Published 1995

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A saddle of new-season’s lamb - that is, the rib section of the young animal on the bone including the kidneys — makes a great roasting joint. It should weigh no more than 2.3 kg/5 lb and will serve 6 people. This simple treatment is unsuitable for older lamb, where the saddle will weigh as much as 5kg/11 lb and taste strongly of old sheep. The small saddle is slow-cooked and is meant to be well done. Serve it with roast potatoes and the Runner Bean Salad with Chilli and Garlic (page 76)


  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 saddle of lamb
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bottle (750 ml/27 fl oz) of dry white wine
  • handful of fresh rosemary leaves
  • handful of flat-leaf parsley, to garnish

For the Sauce

  • 1 small hot red or green chilli
  • 3 red sweet peppers
  • 350 ml/12 fl oz chicken stock
  • 10 basil leaves



Three or four hours before eating: toast the dry spices, pepper and salt in a dry heavy pan over a low flame for 2 minutes, when a strong pungent aroma will be released. Grind to a coarse powder, stir in the oregano and reserve.

Trim the lamb of all excess fat, but leaving the kidneys attached. Brush with olive oil, then rub the spice mixture all over, inside and out. Skewer the flaps on either side to make a compact joint and put, back upwards, into an ovenproof dish in which it will just fit. Leave for 1—2 hours at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 250°C/475°F/gas9


Put the lamb to roast for 10 minutes. Remove and turn the joint so that its back is downwards and return to the oven for another 10 minutes.

Pour over half the wine, lower the temperature setting to 150°C/300°F/gas 2 and cook for 30 minutes. Remove and turn the joint back upwards again, scatter over the rosemary and pour over the remaining wine. Continue to roast for another 1 hour, basting every 10 minutes for the last 30 minutes. It will have had a total of 1 hour 50 minutes in the oven.

While the lamb is roasting, start preparing the sauce: deseed the chilli and cut it into fine strips. Roast the sweet peppers over an open flame. Peel and deseed them and cut into 1 cm/ ½ in dice.

When the lamb is fully roasted, remove it from the oven and allow to rest in a warm place for 20 minutes.

Put the roasting dish over a medium heat. Pour in the chicken stock and add the diced peppers and chilli strips. Boil vigorously, stirring and scraping up the sediment, for 3—5 minutes. Put into a food processor or liquidizer and whizz to a smooth sauce.


Carve the saddle into portion-sized chunks on the bone and arrange on a hot serving plate. It won’t look neat. Cut the kidneys into 6 pieces and scatter them around the meat. Garnish with parsley. Cut the basil leaves into strips, add to the sauce and pour it over.

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