What’s cooking today: Salt and pepper leg of Karoo lamb

What’s cooking today: Salt and pepper leg of Karoo lamb
Tony Jackman’s salt and pepper leg of lamb, served on a platter by Mervyn Gers Ceramics. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Quality Karoo lamb has distinctive flavour of its own thanks to the animal’s veld diet of karoobossies. Hands off all the herbs and spices for this recipe – all you need is salt, pepper and a little fat.

Salt. Pepper. Ixnay everything else. Sometimes that’s all you need to enhance the flavour of something without altering its intrinsic taste and character. Beautiful Karoo lamb is ideal for this. You do need fat of some kind, of course. Here, I used a little olive oil. But consider this: when you have a piece of lamb or mutton of any kind and you decide it has too much fat on it and cut some away, instead of discarding it, wrap it up, label it and freeze it as “mutton (or lamb) fat”. Defrost it, and render it down in a hot pan. Then, brown your leg of lamb (or whatever cut) in that before roasting it.

The portion of leg of lamb I cooked weighed about 1.5kg. As a general rule of thumb, roast leg of lamb on the bone for 20 to 25 minutes per 500 g (for rare), 25 to 30 minutes per 500 g (medium rare), or 35 minutes or slightly more for well done.


1 x 1.5 kg leg of Karoo lamb

3 Tbsp olive oil

Maldon sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 200℃ (this is only for the first few minutes). Heat the oil in a heavy roasting pan on the hob on a moderately high heat and brown the joint well on all sides.

Season all sides with salt and black pepper (I turned the meat with tongs, or use two wooden spoons). Put it in the oven at 200℃ for 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 180℃.

Roast to your desired level of doneness (for my medium rare 1.5 kg leg it took exactly 90 minutes). Baste every 20 minutes or so.

Remove from the oven, cover lightly with foil (don’t wrap it tightly) and leave it to rest for 10 minutes. Red juices will ooze out. This is not blood, it’s water and a protein called myoglobin, which only adds to the flavour.

You’ll find that you have lovely pan juices of pure lamby flavour. Cook these juices (with the myoglobin you’ve often mistaken for blood) down for a minute or two. That’s as much as you’re likely to need to moisten the meat on the plate. DM/TGIFood

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop. Buy it here

Mervyn Gers Ceramics supplies dinnerware for the styling of some TGIFood shoots. For more information, click here.

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks. Share your versions of his recipes with him on Instagram and he’ll see them and respond.

SUBSCRIBE to TGIFood here. Also visit the TGIFood platform, a repository of all of our food writing.


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