Boned Stuffed Leg 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

  • About

Pine nuts are very expensive, but you do not need many of them to make an impression on a dish. Indeed, if you use too many they can impose a slightly odd chemical taste rather like too much saffron. They are used throughout the Mediterranean in both savoury and sweet dishes, perhaps most famously with basil and Parmesan in pesto. Here they provide an exotic addition to a sweet stuffing which balances the lamb nicely.


  • 1 leg of lamb, weighing 2.5-2.7 kg/5½-6 lb (boned weight about 1.8 kg/4 lb - have the butcher chop up the bones)
  • 1 onion
  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 3-4 sprigs of rosemary
  • 1 glass (150 ml/¼ pt) of dry white wine
  • 2 lemons
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper

For the Stuffing

  • 55 g/2 oz instant couscous
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 55 g/2 oz slivered almonds
  • 55 g/2 oz pine nuts
  • 2 onions
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 55 g/2 oz sultanas
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • bunch of coriander leaves



First prepare the stuffing: in a large bowl, plump the couscous with 150 ml/¼ pt of boiling water, stir and leave to stand.

Roast the cumin and coriander seeds with the cinnamon in a dry heavy pan for 2—3 minutes over a low heat. Grind to a powder.

Roast the almonds and pine nuts in the same way, stirring until lightly browned. Remove and reserve.

Peel and finely chop the onions. Put the olive oil into the pan and fry the onions until translucent. Peel, smash and chop the garlic and stir in. Add the spices and fry, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in the couscous, pine kernels, almonds, sultanas and oregano. Remove from the heat. Chop enough of the coriander leaves to produce 4 tablespoons and stir that in. Reserve.

Prepare the lamb: put 5 pieces of string in parallel lines on your work surface. Put the boned lamb, skin side down, across them and rub lots of salt and pepper into the meat.

Spoon the stuffing on the meat. If possible, tuck its outer flaps over, roll the meat into a sausage shape and tie the string tightly to make a neat package. This is a job for two people.

Preheat the oven to 250°C/475°F/gas9.


Put the lamb bones with the whole unpeeled onion and the sunflower oil in a roasting tin and roast for 15 minutes to brown.

Put the rosemary sprigs into a roasting tin into which the joint will just fit. Put the lamb on top of the rosemary. Pour the wine and juice from the lemons around it and spoon the olive oil over the meat. Season the top with salt and pepper and put to roast.

After 15 minutes, turn the temperature setting down to 200°C/400°F/gas6 and cook for 30 minutes, basting occasionally.

If you have an oven grill, switch to it and decrease the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas7 for 25 minutes. Remove the lamb and leave it to stand in a warm place for 15 minutes. The meat should be pink.

Make a gravy by adding 575 ml/1 pt of water to the bones and onion, together with the juices from the lamb and boil over a high heat, stirring and scraping to reduce to about 200 ml/7 fl oz.


Slice the meat and arrange on a warmed serving plate. Any stuffing that falls out, spoon down the middle. Pass the gravy in a sauce-boat. Serve with plain boiled long-grain rice.

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