Mini Mid-week Roast


Everyone loves a good roast with all the trimmings, but lots of people either don’t have the time or have never cooked a roast before and are a bit too scared to attempt it. So this is my solution for a (sort of) quick fix! Tender, succulent lamb, crispy roast potatoes, and soft, buttery leeks baked with cheddar cheese and black pepper. If you’ve never cooked a roast before, give this a go to get a sense of the timings, so that everything’s ready at the same time – in my opinion, that’s the only really tricky thing about cooking a roast dinner.

Ingredients
Two lamb steaks
Salt and black pepper
Thyme (fresh if you can, but dried is okay too)
Two medium-sized potatoes
Lard
Two leeks
Two cloves of garlic
Butter
Olive oil
100g of cheddar cheese, grated
200ml single cream

Serves two.

Preheat the oven to 200˚C. The first thing to get sorted out is the potatoes. As I’ve explained in my How To section (click here for all sorts of handy tips on doing simple things well), peel, chop and parboil them for about five minutes. Then drain them, hold the lid tightly on the pan, and give the potatoes a good shake to fluff them up around the edges. By now the oven should be up to temperature, or nearly, anyway. Prepare a good-sized roasting tin by dotting two or three wedges of lard in it and popping it into the oven. Keep an eye on it and when the lard has melted, remove the tray and carefully add the potatoes (slowly, so there are no splashes of hot lard), turning them over in the fat so that they’re nicely covered. Sprinkle well with salt and black pepper, then put the tray back into the oven and set a timer for 1 hour. Rather than setting different timers for each dish, I like to use the same timer for everything. If your timer counts down, then this is really simple – just make a list of each dish and how long it needs, put the timer on for the dish that needs the longest, then pop each one in as the timer gets to the right point, and it should all be ready at the same time.

Next, prepare the leeks – slice finely and give them a good rinse in a sieve, as leeks sold loose often have a bit of dirt trapped between the layers. Put a small saucepan on a medium heat and add the leeks with a knob of butter and a slug of olive oil. Stir them as they sizzle and keep them on the heat until softened, but not brown. Next, get a big enough oven-proof dish and tip the leeks in, then add the single cream, a handful of the grated cheddar and some fresh thyme, and season well. Mix all the ingredients together and then spread the rest of the cheese in an even layer on the top.

When there’s about 25 minutes left on your timer, move the potatoes down to the bottom of the oven and put the leeks on the middle shelf. Finally you need to sort out your lamb – sprinkle with salt, pepper and a bit more fresh thyme, on both sides. When you start cooking the lamb depends on how you like it – if you want it really well done, give it 20 minutes, for medium, 15, and for medium-rare, 10. Whichever you’re going for, put a griddle pan on a medium heat and get it nice and hot before you add the steaks. Keep turning them so that they get nicely browned on both sides.

If you’ve kept an eye on the timer, when it goes off, everything should be perfect.  Serve up generously – although if you have any leeks and potatoes left over, they’ll make a great soup the next day. Just add a pint or so of hot chicken stock, simmer for twenty minutes, and blend.