Recipe: Lamb Baked in Hay

This is the perfect dish for Easter Weekend. We don’t eat lamb overly often (because pricey, and we have a wedding to pay for), but this is the one weekend where we will definitely be indulging. And because we only enjoy lamb on occasion, we need a recipe that will work. A recipe that will enhance the meats natural flavours and sweetness, keep it moist, render the fat and deliver a yummy meal. And this recipe is a good’un.

Roasting a leg (or half a leg) in hay gives meat a delightful smokiness. Using a casserole dish keeps it tender, and the whole thing is just really rather yummy. In actual fact, cooking in hay is a method that was used throughout history to keep the intense heat of the fire/oven away from the meat (I imagine chicken would be amazing cooked in hay!), so it cooked slowly and evenly. Not only does this ensure super-tender meat that can be carved easily, it also adds a wonderful flavour.

Recipe – for 1/2 Leg of Lamb, can be easily scaled up or down with adjustment to the cooking time

  • 1/2 leg of lamb
  • A few handfuls of hay – available from pet shops – ask for ‘eating’ hay
  • 100g butter, softened
  • 6 springs of rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed

Soak the hay in water for about 15 minutes, then drain and use to line a casserole dish large enough to fit your lamb (if you need to, use a roasting tin and seal tightly with foil before cooking).

In a bowl mix the butter, chopped rosemary and garlic, then smear the mix all over the lamb. Season well with plenty of salt and pepper, then place the lamb on the hay. Cover with the rest of the hay, the cover the dish with it’s lid. Make sure there are no loose bits of hay hanging out as these can smoulder or catch light when in the oven. Cook at 180C for 2.5 hours, for tender meat (less if you prefer your lamb roast to be pink). Allow to rest (covered in foil) for around 15 minutes before serving – we like to to serve with boulangerie potatoes, mint sauce and plenty of veg.

We usually cook half a leg of lamb which leaves leftovers for at least one, usually two meals. Try my Ultimate Shepherds Pie, or Spicy Lamb Flatbreads.

Will you be eating Roast Lamb this weekend?