Spiced rosemary roast lamb with sherry gravy

This spiced rosemary roast lamb with sherry gravy is the perfect centrepiece for any family feast. Don’t forget to rest the joint to keep the meat really tender.

rosemary roast lamb
Chris Alack


1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sumac
1/2 tsp ground allspice
about 20 saffron filaments
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
extra virgin olive oil
1 x leg of lamb about 2.25kg
sea salt and black pepper
1 small handful of rosemary sprigs, plus 1 tbsp needles
150ml medium sherry or madeira
300ml water or chicken stock

1. Preheat the oven to 250C/230Cfan/gas 10 or highest setting. Select a heavy-duty roasting dish that will hold the lamb snugly and can be used on the hob to make the gravy. 

2. Combine the spices and lemon zest in a small bowl, add 2 teaspoons of oil and blend to a thick paste. Starting with the underside of the lamb, use a sharp knife to make cuts about 1 cm deep and 2cm wide all over the flesh at 4cm intervals. Use the handle of a teaspoon to stuff each hole with a dab of the spice paste (use your fingers to help push it in; any that doesn’t go, smear over the meat). Season, then turn the lamb over and repeat with the top side, spreading over any leftover paste before seasoning. 

3. Arrange the rosemary in the centre of the roasting dish and drizzle over a tablespoon of oil. Place the joint on top, fat-side up, then scatter over the rosemary needles and drizzle over another tablespoon of oil. 

4. Roast on the lower shelf of the oven for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 180C/160 fan/gas 4 and continue to roast for 75 minutes more for a leg this size (so a total roasting time of about 1 hour 30 minutes). A meat thermometer should read 55C-60Cfor medium. 

5. Transfer the joint to a warm plate to rest for 20 minutes. Discard the herb sprigs from the roasting dish, skim off any excess fat, add the sherry and simmer on the hob over medium heat for 3-4 minutes until well reduced, scraping up the sticky residue on the base. Add the water or stock and a little seasoning and simmer for 3-4 minutes more. You can add any juices given out when carving the lamb. Bring back to the boil, then strain through a sieve into a warm jug.

Recipe by Annie Bell. Food styling by Clare Lewis. Styling by Sue Radcliffe.