Recipe: Slow-roasted leg of lamb with black lime, preserved lemon and cinnamon

Recipe: Slow-roasted leg of lamb with black lime, preserved lemon and cinnamon

30m prep | 3h cook

Last updated

Slow-cooking is a pastime with many virtues; not only are you creating a delicious, gently-simmered, patiently-prepared meal to enjoy at the end of the day, but you’re gifted with the evolving scents that fill your home while the aromatics, meat, vegetables and sauces come together in beautiful harmony.

This recipe is triumphant on both counts, combining citrus treble with deep, spiced bass notes, slowly roasted until both the meat and your heart are ready melt.

The stunningly zingy, umami-rich complexity of dried black limes and preserved lemons are used to give this roast its richness, while a garnish of fruity urfa chilli flakes and fresh herbs add a lift to the finished dish. Served with roast vegetables, a suite of ancient grains and a dollop of sumac-spiked yoghurt, and you’ve got a Sunday roast that’s just as perfect as a dinner party showstopper as it is a quiet night at home with the family.

Ingredients (Serves 6-8)

  • 1 leg of lamb (4-5kg)
  • 1 whole preserved lemon
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 small bunch rosemary
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 large red onions
  • 3 whole dried black limes, halved or broken into large pieces
  • 2 cinnamon quills
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • Salt flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp Urfa chilli flakes
  • Bunch fresh mint
  • Bunch fresh coriander


  • 1/2 cup natural Greek-style yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp sumac

 Preheat your oven to 170C.

Cut 4 of the garlic cloves into thin, pointy slivers. Remove and discard the flesh and pith from the preserved lemon, and cut the skin into thin slices no longer than 2cm.

Pat the outside of the lamb leg until dry. Using a small utility knife, make 20 or so 1cm deep incisions across the surface of the lamb. Gather a sliver of garlic, a slice of lemon and a few rosemary leaves between your fingers, and insert into one of the incisions in the lamb. Repeat with the remaining garlic and lemon until the surface of the lamb is studded roughly every inch or so.

Drizzle the lamb with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Thinly slice the red onion and scatter the slices roughly over the bottom of a roasting pan large enough to snugly hold the lamb leg. Place the lamb onto the onion, then drizzle with the honey. Add the black limes, cinnamon quills and any garlic and preserved lemon left over from the studding process to the pan, then carefully pour the stock into the pan.

Cover with a layer of baking paper and two layers of aluminium foil, and transfer to the oven.

Roast for 2.5 hours, then remove the foil and cook for a further 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven, cover loosely with foil and rest for 20-30 minutes.

Spoon the yoghurt into a small bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sumac.

Move the lamb to a large serving platter, scatter the roast onions around the base then season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with Urfa chilli flakes and scatter with fresh mint and coriander.

Serve with couscous, potatoes, roast vegetables or a mixed grain salad.

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