Fennel and lamb work perfectly together. The fennel has an almost medicinal flavour that cuts through the dark meat of the lamb. Both fennel seed and leaf can be used with lamb – in this recipe for Butterflied Leg Of Lamb With Fennel I used just the seed.
I cooked this a few weeks back on the BBQ and it worked really well. Unfortunately summer seems to have come and gone in a matter of days so I’m back to cooking indoors. No problem though – it’s a good excuse to try this recipe on the griddle.
What you’ll need:
- Leg of lamb (or a half leg as I’ve used here)
- 2-3 teaspoons of fennel seed – more for a larger leg of lamb
- 2 cloves of garlic – finely chopped
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes
- Olive oil – a good basic olive oil and then a good quality extra-virgin olive oil to finish
- 1 lemon
To butterfly the lamb cut vertically down the leg along the bone – make the cut at the thinnest part of the meat where the bone is closest to the surface. Keep cutting to reveal the bone – you will need to cut around the bone joints – try to cut as much meat off as you can keeping it all in one piece. Keep cutting until you can remove the bone from the meat.
Now cut lengthways into the thicker parts of the meat so you can “unfold” it to make the meat flatter and cover a larger area. As the meat is cooked quickly, it’s important to try to get the meat as evenly cut as you can – if some parts are thicker than others, you can bash it down with your hand to try to even it out.
Cut any excessive fat off the meat – as we’re not slow cooking this, we don’t want too much fat on it.
Now put the garlic, chilli flakes, fennel seed, pepper and olive oil on the lamb. Grate the lemon, add the zest to the lamb and then squeeze the juice of the lemon over the lamb.
Massage the lamb so the other ingredients coat the whole piece of meat and work into the fibres of the lamb.
Leave this for 30 minutes or longer – you can cover in clingfilm if you like but don’t refrigerate as you want to keep it at room temperature.
When you’re ready to cook it, heat a griddle pan until it’s smoking hot (you could cook it in a frying pan I suppose but you wouldn’t get the wonderful charred lines that the griddle creates and the griddle allows any liquid to drain away so you wont end up boiling it instead of frying).
When it’s hot enough, place the lamb on the griddle. Cooking times will vary depending on how you like your lamb and the thickness of the meat – for this half leg I cooked it for 7 – 8 minutes for medium rare.
Once the lamb is cooked, remove and leave to rest for as long as you cooked it for. While it’s resting, give it a few glugs of your good quality extra-virgin olive oil and a few pinches of sea salt. While it was resting it gave me long enough to griddle some asparagus to go with it.
Give it a try – if we get any more summer, try it on the BBQ.