Ireland’s Greatest Ingredients part 2 – Silence of the lamb

Spiced leg of lamb (4 of 5)

I know, I know, I posted a spiced leg of lamb a few weeks ago. That one was pretty delicious. The herd (or heard if things are not the way they want them) were fulsome in their praise. So, I thought it would be good to get a leg of lamb in as number two in my occasional series Ireland’s Greatest Ingredients.

Having prepared a pretty fine dish, this one didn’t raise a single complement. Not one word. Five of them sat around the table and said nothing. Not a single word…

In truth, we had a guest for dinner, and they were all too busy munching the delicious lamb. I interjected with a polite cough (I usually am last to sit as I am photographing the meal to show it to you.). My mum piped up with “That’s the sign of a good meal, nobody speaking, everybody eating.”. Youngest daughter chipped in with “You could call it ‘Silence of the Lamb’.”. They were right to concentrate on the eating. This lamb was first rate. The preparation time would rival that of a good kidnapping too. It took just over two days.

Spiced leg of lamb

Not a huge list of ingredients but plenty of flavour.


  • One leg of fine Irish lamb
  • 500ml of goat’s yoghurt (daughters are lactose intolerant)
  • 2 red and 2 green chilis
  • 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons of paprika
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • Juice of a lemon
  • A handful of mint leaves

First, chop the garlic, the mint and the chilis.

That's an awful lot of chili. That will silence my little lambs.

That’s an awful lot of chili. That will silence my little lambs.

Then toast the seeds in a pan.

The aroma from the seeds is delicious.

The aroma from the seeds is delicious.

Add everything bar the lemon and the lamb to a bowl Squeeze in the lemon juice.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy as they say.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy as they say.

Mix the mixture and then add it and the lamb leg to a plastic bag. Massage the leg through the plastic to be sure everything is well covered. Tie it off and leave it in the fridge for 36 hours or so.

Wrapped in plastic and left in a cold place for a day and a half.

Wrapped in plastic and left in a cold place for a day and a half.

Unwrap the lamb. Spoon the mixture over it and put it in a 190º C oven for one and a quarter hours, basting regularly. (Apologies to Stefan, I forgot to use the meat thermometer.)

Looking well before going into the oven.

Looking well before going into the oven.

Let it rest for fifteen minutes before carving.

Just out of the oven. Very difficult to avoid munching on some of the crusty bits.

Just out of the oven. Very difficult to avoid munching on some of the crusty bits.

Serve to your now captive audience (Geddit?).

Did I mention that we like it pink?

Did I mention that we like it pink?

I served the lamb with the marinade (after separating some of the lamb oil) and spinach mash. A nice cool beer went well with it too (rather than a Chianti). It was well worth the 36 hour wait. No time to talk until we were finished. This was a worthy participant in Ireland’s Greatest Ingredients. Silence of the Lamb indeed!


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  • Is there another way to serve lamb other than pink….? The alternative dry, grey abomination doesn’t bear thinking about.

  • I like mine pink or rose also. Beautiful as usual Conor.

  • I never eat lamb, but this is making me want to!

    • You need to come out of the shadows and try some. Delicious meat.

  • That does sound delicious 🙂

  • OK, just because of the numerous Thomas Harris references. Do you get “Hannibal” in the UK?
    Holy crap is it good. Most definitely my favorite show. I am trying to get as many people as possible into it because it is THAT GOOD.

    Speaking of good, this lamb looks damn fine.

    • Yes we get that its the one with That guy out of something – the baddie in James Bond, no? Conner might not though he’s in Ireland.

      • Oops I meant Conor.

      • Mads Mikkelsen. I don’t know if was ever a Bond villain. But I haven’t seen a Bond film since Pierce Brosnan was 007.

        If you’re not watching it–start. Season 1 is definitely available on Amazon Prime instant stream.

        • I feel like I should be sitting in a swivel chair stroking a fluffy white cat. Hannibal is on one of the satellite channels here. I have not got around to it. I am too busy in the kitchen silencing the lamb.

        • will do – once i’ve finished Battlestar galactica – also on Amazon Prime! Yes he was the baddie in Casino Royale – if you haven’t seen it, see it.

          • Possibly the best Bond movie. Pretty close to the book. The books are excellent. Bond was a bit of a sh1t.

          • i am encouraged to read them. I haven’t yet…

  • Looking good Conor – in the pink. Sounds delicious, as ever.

  • Looks fantastic. Nice short list of well combined ingredients and there certainly is a fair share of wit in your family!

    • Thanks, I really enjoyed slicing and adding the mound of chillis. They added flavour but did not blow the flavour.

  • This looks so delicious. I really like lamb, but it is hard to get quality lamb here for some reason. Your recipes look so good. What a great marinade.

    • Thanks Amanda, you will have to come visit us here in Ireland. We really do have some pretty fine lamb.

  • Lamb looks outstandingly pink! You just got lucky without using the thermometer 😉 “Mix the mixture”: LOL! I’ve never marinated anything in yogurt yet, I must rectify that. Perhaps a sous-vide version…

    • I suspect it would cook beautifully sous vide. Great thought.

  • Have to copy your yogurt marinade exactly – sounds moreish: obviously was so 🙂 ! Like the use of the fennel seeds . . . Cooking so much Asian I use yogurt as a base a lot: must also learn to go past the 12-24 hour mark!! Thanks!!

    • Well worth giving it a go Eha. That is, as long as you use the fridge.

      • Ha! Ha! Well, at the moment it is winter here . . . hmmm, going by the Giro, what you call coolish summer!!!! But, yes – for 36 hours I kind’of get the idea 😉 !

  • Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. Oh, yes, and that looks delicious.

  • Hey if it’s got chiles in it I’m all in! Although lamb is pretty sparse in my neck of the woods. But it looks delish!

    • They really didn’t add all that much heat. Despite the quantities.

  • Haha… I was going to ask if you ate it with a chianti but you had it covered (with beer, good man). Sounds absolutely delicious. You can never have too many lamb recipes, in my opinion!

    • Thanks Laura, I agree, particularly when our Irish lamb is so good.

  • There’s a fabulous Indian recipe that’s very similar, with the yogurt marinade. It might be raan, but I don’t trust my memory. I haven’t made lamb in years. My husband won’t eat it, one daughter is a vegetarian, and the other daughter doesn’t live with me anymore. So sad. So I live vicariously through your lamb posts! Beautiful!

  • Oh, how delicious that looks Conor…my mouth is watering. Perhaps because I’m craving delicious foods, which I haven’t been getting lately. Wish Ireland weren’t so far away!

  • I can see why they kept their mouths shut after dinner – you stopped their taste buds from screaming since they were lulled into submission by those chili peppers. Well done, Conor!

  • You can post lamb recipes as often as you want! Truly one of my favorite meats. I don’t cook it nearly often enough. Irish lamb must also taste so much better than on the continent! 🙂

  • Your lamb looks perfectly cooked. Sometimes silence is a good thing and in this case it must have been a great thing…delicious.

    • I don’t know Karen, they wouldn’t tell me!

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