Lamb and spinach stuffing, with watercress and garlic cream potatoes

We recently got together with some friends at Shaun’s, which is situated in a very pretty part of London overlooking the Thames. I’m not quite sure how I talked him into letting me do all the cooking while he went to the gym… but moving on.

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Barbeques for 40 aside, this was the most I’d cooked for – seven people. I discovered something really obvious that I’d not noticed before: stuffing makes food go further. I have vowed to stuff whatever I can lay my hands on from now on.

This was a Diana Henry Easter recipe I saw on the Telegraph website. I read the recipe, liked the sound of it, made a few tweaks and here we are.

What to use – serves 8

  • 2 kilo boned leg of lamb – I bought two small ones – 750g each
  • rosemary if you like it – I am not a massive fan and didn’t use it

for the stuffing:

  • 65g fresh bread crumbs – I bought these which were perfect
  • 1-2 table spoons of olive oil
  • 2 shallots chopped – I cheated and bought frozen already chopped ones
  • 250g spinach
  • 15g flat leaf parsley
  • juice of a lemon
  • salt and pepper

for the potatoes

  • 1kg new potatoes
  • 200g creme fraiche
  • 50g watercress
  • a head of garlic

How to use it

First the potatoes. I did these in advance and served them warm rather than very hot firstly because of the different times and temperatures needed for cooking them and the lamb, and second so that the cream didn’t instantly melt after being added.

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Turn the oven on to 200C. I like to roast new potatoes. It’s not roasting in the sense that you peel, par boil and so on, you just bake them in their skin with some olive oil and seasoning. They turn out sweet and soft. Put them in a baking dish and drizzle over olive oil and crush over some sea salt. Shake them around to make sure they’re evenly seasoned. Take your head of garlic and with a very sharp knife, cut the top off so that the cloves are exposed. Cover the exposed heads with olive oil and wrap the head in tin foil. Place it in the middle of the potatoes. Roast for 30 minutes then check the garlic. If it’s soft, take it out, if not, leave in until done – it should have a mashable consistency. Cook the potatoes until they are tender. It’ll depend on their size – just keep pricking them to check. When done, cover and set aside.

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While the potatoes are roasting, you can make the stuffing. Wash the spinach and put it still with water on it into a pan on a medium heat. Cover and let it wilt, knocking it about a bit to help it on its way. Drain and leave to cool.

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Sautee the challots in some of the olive oil until soft, not brown. Put into a bowl and add the bread crumbs, and chopped parsley. Squeeze the spinach to get any excess water out, then chop it and add to the mix. Squeeze in the juice of the lemon, and a generous pinch of salt and some black pepper, then mix it all together. If you think it needs a bit more olive oil to hold it together, or some more seasoning, add it.

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Put the oven on to 220C. I usually take meat out of the fridge 30 mins before cooking too, to bring it to room temperature.

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Open out the lamb leg – you may need to open it a bit more to get the stuffing in. Season, then put the stuffing in the middle. Place the lamb over three pieces of cooking twine and tie back together. Diana Henry made incisions in the lamb and pushed rosemary into it, then brushed with olive oil. I just brushed with olive oil and added a bit more seasoning.

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Roast for 20 mins at 220C then turn down to 180. If you’ve got a 2kg joint, roast for another hour. If you’ve got smaller joints you’ll need to adjust down your cooking time (25 mins per 450g, plus 25 mins for medium-cooked lamb).

Rest for 10 minutes before carving.

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While the lamb is resting, uncover the potatoes and put them back into the oven to warm up a bit. Put your creme fraiche into a bowl. Pop your garlic cloves out and mash them into a paste. Add the mashed garlic to the creme fraiche, season and mix.

When you’re ready to serve, spoon the garlicky cream over the potatoes, and garnish with watercress.

Mmm rating: mm mm mm

Cost pp: £3.00

Calories: too hard to work out!

What to listen to: there was a lot of Barry Manilow that night, so one for the Fanilows, my all time favourite Baz tune, Mandy

What to watch: the Thames roll by…

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