Recipes are very rarely ‘original’ these days unless you’re the man on Come Dine with Me who served a viscous, beige stew inside a castle made of toast, or Rachel from Friends attempting a trifle. Even if you think you’re the first to come up with a particular arrangement of ingredients, someone else has probably had the same inspiration. Recipes are constantly tweaked, adapted, repackaged and resold in different ways.

The idea of covering things in scalloped potatoes is nothing new (stewed meat for example, or a fish pie) but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it over a joint before, like cucumber ‘scales’ on a whole salmon. I say that as someone who hasn’t embarked on even the laziest of Googles. Still, someone somewhere will have done it. Get in touch, fellow genius, for this is one of the greatest potato and lamb combos ever conceived, and I can say that with full enthusiasm because it was not my idea.

Having acknowledged how incredible this was I have to say that we both thought it was destined to fail. How would the potato slices stick to the lamb and not slide off during cooking? Answer: sprinkle with potato flour. We also wrapped the scaled lamb leg in clingfilm once roasted to allow the slices to ‘set’ into shape, then carefully unwrapped and slung it into a hot oven to cook the potatoes and get them good and crisp. Miraculously, it emerged in fully burnished armour.

You get the name, right? It looks like an armadillo but it’s made with lamb. That’s got to be an original.

The Baaa-madillo (a crispy potato coated slow roast leg of lamb recipe)

I recommend adding a layer of potatoes underneath the lamb too, ensuring you get a good haul of lamb fat soaked spuds – actual heaven (and not a new idea).

1 leg of lamb (around 2kg bone-in)
1 tablespoon oil (veg or groundnut)
2 sprigs rosemary
1 whole head of garlic
Around 6 floury potatoes, cut into thin slices using a mandoline
Potato flour

Preheat the oven to 160C.

Place the lamb in a roasting tray and score the fat on top. Rub with the oil and season really well with salt and pepper. Roughly chop the rosemary and add that too. Lob the whole garlic bulb into the roasting tray.

Cook for around 45 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer reads around 45C at the centre (this isn’t cooked enough yet but you are putting it back in the oven).

Lay a sheet of clingfilm on a work surface and layer the potatoes on it, overlapping (see picture above). Sprinkle evenly with potato flour as shown, then lay the lamb on top, fat side down. Now you need to carefully mould the potatoes around the lamb leg without them all shifting around. Let those you don’t need fall away (e.g. you won’t cover the base of the lamb leg) and rearrange any that have moved. It’s not TOO hard if there’s two of you doing it, although I say this as someone who has made the above recipe precisely once. Rigorously tested it ain’t – go forth, culinary adventurer.

Wrap the clingfilm really tightly around the lamb leg, adding a couple of extra layers once secured, and leave to sit for 45 minutes. Whack the oven up to 220C.

Place lots more potato slices in the roasting tray to make the best potato crisps you’ve ever eaten. Carefully remove the clingfilm and place the lamb back on top of the potatoes. Cook for approximately 15 minutes then turn the oven up to 280C (or as hot as your oven will go) for a final 5 minutes, or until golden and crisp.

Roast Lamb with Caponata

I’ve just started working with Wine Trust 100, producing some recipes for their website to match some of the excellent wines there. I thought you might like to see the recipe here so below is my first post for them – the links lead through to the matched wine on their site.


This being my first post about food and wine matching, I must own up to something straight away: I used to be scared of wine. Not scared it was going to hurt me (although of course, that has happened), but intimidated by the way some people pretend it’s all part of a secret club that’s very hard to get into.

Wine should not be used as a status symbol, or to make other people feel inferior if they don’t know their Sancerre from their Sauvignon. The word ‘accessible’ almost sounds clichéd nowadays, but the enjoyment of wine should not be the preserve of those who are apparently able to ‘fully’ appreciate it. Anyone can appreciate wine, and food and wine matching is nowhere near as hard, or easy, or anywhere in between, as people make out. It’s simply a question of trial and error – one might taste a wine and, finding something stony or flinty, wonder if it will go well with oysters, which have similar characteristics.

This brings me nicely to the shoulder of lamb. Having waved goodbye to any insecurities about the adequacy of my palate, I’m free to have fun with combinations, and I like my matches to have a little story behind them. I decided to go Roman.

The wine I have chosen (2013 Il Passo, Nerello Mascalese, Vigneti Zabu), comes from the ancient volcanic wine growing region of mount Etna and is made from two indigenous grape varieties: Nerello Mascalese (mostly only found on Etna) and Nero D’Avola (much more common). It’s full of dark herbal cherry accents with a slight sweetness of fruit from the drying of the grapes prior to fermentation.

It was this sweet and sour cherry character that, along with the wine’s Sicilian origin, made me think of agro dolce and the fact that in Sicily they still cook a cuisine very similar to that of the Romans.

The lamb is cooked with plenty of red wine, herbs, honey and – don’t be alarmed – a splash of fish sauce. It’s really not that odd if you consider it cooks out to leave a pleasing savoury funk, a punch of umami not too dissimilar from the Roman’s garum. The resulting roast is sweet, salty and vaguely gamey, full of herbal notes, which compliment the wine so well.

I’ve served it with a sweet/sour caponata, which is a rich Sicilian stew of aubergines, courgettes, olives and other vegetables, piqued with the acidity of vinegar and capers. You have my full permission to recline like an Emperor during consumption.

Roman Style Lamb with Caponata (matched with 2013 Il Passo, Nerello Mascalese, Vigneti Zabu)

1 x ½ shoulder of lamb (around 1.2kg)
1 onion, sliced
2 heads of garlic, unpeeled, sliced in half across the cloves
6 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme, left whole + 1 tablespoon leaves
200ml red wine (any is fine)
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon fish sauce
Juice ½ lemon

Preheat the oven to 170C.

Place the onion, garlic, bay leaves, thyme sprigs and the lamb into a roasting tray. Mix the fish sauce, honey, lemon juice and thyme leaves and brush onto the lamb. Season well with salt and pepper. Mix the wine with 200ml water and gently pour this around the lamb (not on top of it).
Put in the oven for 3 – 3.5 hours until very tender.


1 large aubergine, cut into 2cm dice
100g celery, sliced into 2cm slices
1 large courgette, cut into 2cm dice
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 large red onion, sliced
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
2 tablespoons green olives
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Small handful parsley leaves, chopped
Olive oil

Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a frying pan and fry the aubergine until golden on all sides, then remove to drain on kitchen paper. Do the same with the courgette (adding more oil as necessary).

Add a little more oil and cook the onion and celery until soft and just starting to colour. Add the aubergine and courgettes, capers, tomatoes, olives, sugar and vinegar and bring to a simmer. Put a lid on and simmer gently for 45 minutes to one hours, until thick. Season with salt and pepper then leave to cool to room temperature before serving. You may want to add a little more vinegar to taste.