Saddle of Lamb with Sweet Garlic and Saffron Sauce

A saddle of lamb is a fine sight. I made this for Easter one year, hence the saffron sauce, as saffron is traditionally associated with the spring feast. The garlic for the creamy sauce is blanched and then roasted underneath the meat so it becomes mild and sweet. Prepare the saddle for cooking the day before. It should be carved in long thin strips down the length of the joint.

Ingredients

  • about 2 kg/ lb saddle of lamb
  • about 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
  • 50 g/2 oz tin anchovy fillets
  • 3 teaspoons bottled green peppercorns
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 4 tablespoons sherry
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 300 ml/½ pint double cream
  • generous pinch saffron strands
  • 8-10 large cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons caster sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Greek-style yoghurt
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

Method

Using a sharp knife, make incisions in the lamb on the underside of the joint. Put the rosemary leaves, anchovy fillets and their oil, green peppercorns, lemon juice, sherry and 5 tablespoons of the olive oil into a food processor and whizz until as smooth as possible. Put the lamb into a large roasting pan and rub the puréed mixture all over the underside of the joint, pressing it firmly into the incisions. Leave the lamb underside-upwards, covered with a cloth, in a cold place until the next day, basting occasionally with any juices that seep on to the bottom of the pan.

Before you cook the lamb, put the cream into a saucepan with the saffron and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and leave on one side to infuse. Peel the garlic and cut each clove lengthways into quarters or halves, depending on size. Bring a small pan of water to the boil, drop in the garlic and simmer for 2 minutes, then drain. Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/gas mark 8.

Turn the saddle of lamb over in the pan and smear the skin all over with the remaining olive oil and some crushed sea salt. Put on the centre shelf of the oven and, after 10 minutes, turn the oven down to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Remove the roasting pan from the oven, put the blanched garlic underneath the meat and return to the oven. Roast for 20 minutes per 450 g/1 lb for lamb which will be pale pink and juicy in the centre. Then turn off the heat, open the oven door slightly and leave the meat for about 20 minutes. Remove the saddle of lamb from the roasting pan and put on a carving board on top of the stove.

Now make the sauce. Pour the excess fat from the roasting pan, leaving the juices and garlic in the pan. Stir in the caster sugar. Pour the saffron cream into the pan and bring to bubbling on top of the stove, stirring all the time. Bubble, still stirring, for about 2 minutes, then remove from the heat, season to taste with salt and black pepper, stir in the yoghurt and pour into a heated sauce bowl to serve with the carved lamb.

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