Spring superstars: Annie Bell’s slow-cooked lamb with saffron & new season tomatoes

Silky slow-cooked lamb with a lively tomato and coriander salad and warm flatbreads is a fab line-up. You could also stir your favourite grain into the salad in lieu of bread – cooked bulgur wheat, quinoa, spelt or buckwheat are all good additions.

slow-cooked lamb
Ellis Parrinder


800g lamb neck fillets
A pinch of saffron filaments (about 20)
2 lemons, finely grated zest, plus a few squeezes of the juice
4 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
400g mixed cherry and small vine tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on size
3 baby cucumbers, ends trimmed and roughly chopped
1 jumbo spring onion, halved lengthways then thinly sliced diagonally
2 handfuls coarsely chopped coriander leaves
Warm flatbreads, to serve

  1. Preheat the oven to 170C/150C fan/gas 3 1⁄2. Cut a couple of diagonal slits in the top of each lamb fillet and season either side. Grind the saffron filaments to a powder in a mortar and pestle, then add the lemon zest, garlic plus a little salt, and pound to blend. Smooth a little of this paste into each slit.
  2. You want to slow-cook the lamb in foil parcels, making sure they are well sealed but with space for the air to move around inside the parcel. Take a large, double layer of foil and place half of the lamb in the centre. Slightly cup the edges so the liquid doesn’t run out, then drizzle over 1 tbsp oil and squeeze over a little lemon juice. Pleat the opposite sides of the foil to create a leakproof parcel, with a pocket of air within it (a bit like a tent). Repeat this process with the remaining lamb, 1 tbsp oil and a squeeze of lemon juice in a double layer of foil.
  3. Place the parcels in a roasting tin and bake for 2 1⁄2 hours, then leave to rest for 10 minutes.
  4. 20 minutes before the lamb is ready, season the tomatoes with salt in a large bowl and set aside.
  5. When ready to serve, stir the remaining 1 tbsp oil into the tomatoes and mix in the cucumber, onion and coriander. Unwrap the parcels, transfer the lamb to a plate and pull it apart using forks. Skim off and discard any oil from the juices remaining in the foil and drizzle these over the meat. Accompany with the salad and bread.

Recipes: Annie Bell. Photographs: Ellis Parrinder. Food styling: Lou Kenney. Styling: Charlie Phillips