Roasted Leg of Lamb with Sumac and Red Onion Salad

, from Issue #48. August, 2015
Photography by Manja Wachsmuth.
Roasted Leg of Lamb with Sumac and Red Onion Salad

Succulent slices of roast lamb, served with the rich meat juices, are brought alive by the sour lemony flavour of sumac, crunchy pine nuts and sweet chewy cranberries.

Serves: 6–8


2 kilogram leg of lamb
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
finely grated zest 1 lemon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

To cook
sea salt
2 onions, sliced
1 cup white wine or water

Sumac and red onion salad
1 red onion, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice, extra
1 teaspoon sumac
1 clove garlic, crushed
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
small handful mint and flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted


Preheat the oven to 170˚C.

Make 6 incisions in the lamb with a small paring knife. Combine all the remaining ingredients and push a little of the marinade into the cuts then rub the rest all over the lamb. Cover and leave to marinate in a cool place for 2 hours or refrigerate for up to 2 days. Remove from the fridge at least 2 hours before cooking.

Season the lamb generously with salt. Put the onions and wine in the base of a roasting dish and place the lamb on top. Roast for 1½ hours, basting occasionally and adding water to the dish when necessary so there is always liquid covering the base. Transfer the lamb to a platter, cover and rest for 15 minutes.

Sumac and red onion salad: Toss the onion, salt and first measure of lemon juice together and leave for 30 minutes then drain off the liquid. Place in a clean tea towel and squeeze out the excess moisture.

Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, sumac and garlic together and season then stir in the onions. Add the herbs, cranberries and pine nuts just before serving.

To serve: Skim any fat off the pan juices and rewarm. Transfer the lamb to a serving platter and carve the meat off the bone. Drizzle over the pan juices and scatter with the sumac and red onion salad. (You can also serve the onions that the lamb was cooked on, along with the pan juices if desired.) 

Crispy Sage Potatoes: Cook large chunks of peeled Agria or other floury potatoes in boiling salted water for 10 minutes. Drain and toss in a colander to rough up the outsides. Heat olive oil and butter in a roasting dish and when hot, add the potatoes and cook until golden and crispy, turning occassionally. Add the sage leaves for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to serve.