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Wet-roasted lamb with black olives

black olives

This is a wonderfully savoury dish that is as much at home for a summery lunch as for a cold winter's day. For a quicker version, you can buy some ready-made black olive tapenade instead of making your own.


The lentils with dried tomatoes are a great sidedish, and you might like to consider serving a little plain yoghurt alongside.


Serves 6 as a main course


1.5 kg lamb shoulder or leg, boneless

a splash of red wine

200g good quality black olives, stones removed

a couple of sprigs of oregano, leaves only

1 tbsp capers, drained

4 cloves garlic

olive oil


Preheat the oven to 220°C.


Put all the ingredients except the lamb and wine in a food processor and whiz until you have a rough paste. Thin with the olive oil as necessary - you are after a consistency that you could spread on toast, but not pour.


Heat a pan with a little olive oil over medium/high heat. Remove excess fat from the lamb and cut into 6 roughly equal sized pieces. Brown the lamb pieces briefly and remove to a deep ovenproof dish. Deglaze the pan with the wine and add to the lamb. Tip in the black olive paste as well and mix thoroughly. Lay a piece of greaseproof paper over the top, then put a lid on the dish (or cover tightly with foil).


Stick the dish in the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 170°C. Roast for 3-4 hours until the lamb is meltingly tender. It should be almost falling apart when you stick the tines of a fork into it.


Lift the pieces of meat out carefully onto a serving dish. The liquid and bits left behind are deeply flavoursome, so you want to do something with them. I usually tip them into the lentils that I serve alongside, but you could also sieve the mixture and make a sauce, or just spoon it over the lamb as it is.

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