Barbecued leg of spring lamb

Emily Watkins' leg of lamb recipe shows that putting in a little extra effort can take a dish to the next level. She uses a salt cure imbued with juniper, pepper and rosemary, drawing some of the moisture out of the meat and leading to a greater intensity of flavour. Using a curing mix for 12 hours, a shorter period of time than a full cure, allows the flavour of the cure to penetrate and season all of the meat evenly. As the lamb is not undergoing the full curing process, you can use normal table salt in place of pink salt if you choose - pink salt contains sodium nitrate which helps inhibit the growth of unwanted bacteria in a full curing process.

First published in 2015




Leg of lamb

Lamb cure


  • Barbecue
  • Temperature probe


Start by making the cure. Use a spice grinder or mortar and pestle to grind together the peppercorns and juniper berries. Remove the rosemary leaves from the stems, roughly chop, and combine in large bowl with the remaining ingredients
Using a very sharp knife, de-bone the lamb leg and break down into the 3 main muscles. Trim off any sinew and connective tissue. If you are not confident with this step, your butcher can also do this for you
Place the prepared lamb into the curing mix, coat well and transfer everything into a large resealable bag or vacuum bag. Seal tightly and leave to cure for 12 hours
After 12 hours, remove the lamb from the bag and rinse off all excess marinade under cold running water for 5 minutes. Pat dry and set aside at room temperature for half an hour
Light the coals in a barbecue, allow to flame then leave to die down slightly to a medium-high heat. Start to cook the lamb at the edge of the barbecue and slowly brown until evenly coloured all over, turning frequently
Cook for 45-60 minutes, until (if you have one) a meat thermometer or probe reaches 50˚C when inserted into the middle of the meat. At this point, remove from the barbecue and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes until it reaches an internal temperature 54˚C. Carve the meat and serve with organic seasonal potatoes and spring vegetables
First published in 2015

Mother of three and previously chef-owner at The Kingham Plough, Oxfordshire, Emily Watkins has a lot on her proverbial plate. But it hasn’t stopped her from becoming one of Britain’s leading chefs.

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