LIKE THE puppy at Christmas, lamb’s not just for Easter – but when some retailers are promoting it at less than £5 per kg in the run up to it, then it’s the bargain dinner of the year so far.

You can do a lot of things with lamb, but my preference is to have the whole rear leg, bone in, with a slow roast at a low temp and a ‘fire up’ at the end for a crispy skin finish.

I can remember several years ago getting a phone call from the late Rog Wood asking me if I wanted any lamb for the freezer. He was quick to point out, though, that these were not off the hill at Auchentaggart, but a cancelled order for a lorry load of legs destined for Germany. They were great big Beltex cross lamb legs cut continental style, way up into the tail head.

They weighed, I guess, about 4kg each – a lot bigger than that sold on the domestic market – and Vivers, in Annan, were trying to offload them. Rog had heard through the grapevine (he was awful fond of the grapevine in several forms!) about their misfortune. So, six were purchased on my behalf and they were used intermittently throughout the year to feed a hungry family. They were superb.

Since then, lamb has become a family favourite. I’ve tried many ways of cooking the leg joints, but the classic roast lamb is hard to beat, though a curried slow-cooked version comes pretty close.

Lamb is also one of the highlights of the annual ‘boys’ fishing trip to the sane delights of Knoydart and again, we adhere to the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid). That means slivers of garlic and rosemary nudged into little slits all over the outside made with a sharp knife and a few sprigs of rosemary for the bottom of the roasting dish.

I have also been known to smear it with mint sauce, but not too much at the early stage as that part of it can burn and be quite bitter. It can be added again just before finishing off.

The big secret of success for a great gravy with this recipe is not to use wine, but cider as the basis of the cooking process. It leaves a gravy with a bit of sweetness that complements the lamb perfectly – but don’t let it dry out during the cooking process.

For our Knoydart slow roast, we put two legs in the oven when leaving ‘early’ to go fishing – ahem, make that about 11.00am!. They’re placed in a deep roasting tin on top of three chopped carrots, two roughly cut onions and some sticks of celery in the bottom of the tin, with one/two tins of cider poured in plus another 330ml cans-worth of water.

Cook it for about six or seven hours at 120-130 degrees F – checking that it isn’t drying out ‘below’ every now and then (a top up with more water/cider may be necessary). After that, take the foil off and give it a blast at 200 degrees F for half an hour to crisp up the skin – adding a bit of mint sauce if that’s to your taste. Then, most importantly, remove from the oven and leave somewhere warm with the tin foil back over it and a towel over that to let it rest.

Strain the juices into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce for about 10-15 mins and then use a thickener to give it some richness – I actually use Bisto chicken gravy granules, rather than arrowroot or cornflour, which gives it a greater depth of flavour.

Serve with some roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings (yes they go with lamb too!) and some seasonal veg. Yummy ... happy Easter.

You’ll need:

One/two legs of lambs (four to eight servings, depending on size of legs and those eating it!)

Two/three carrots

Two/three onions

Two/three sticks of celery

Garlic three/four thinly sliced

Rosemary sprigs

Salt and pepper to taste

Mint sauce