Yesterday’s dinner was a locavore’s  delight. Now that spring is in full flight, it feels not just possible but pleasurable to cook from the local produce that’s turning up in the shops. I started off in our local butcher, which is the kind of fantastic place that not only stocks locally sourced, organic meat, but where the butchers will happily go and cut you just what you need, and offer advice on how to cook what you’ve bought. I was drawn to the lamb, which all comes from small producers in the South Downs. It’s toward the end of the Spring lamb season so the meat has now been hung for longer and has a really sweet meaty flavour. I like it that way, as it lends itself to long slow cooking, so I bought a half a shoulder. The butcher suggested roasting it for four hours over potatoes and herbs…so this recipe is really his.

With meat and recipe suggestion in hand, I crossed over to the greengrocer where they had lovely new Jersey Royal potatoes and Sussex asparagus. I can’t resist asparagus in season, and besides, there are only a couple of weeks of overlap between the South Downs lamb and asparagus seasons, so it only makes sense to enjoy them together while you can. Sadly, I can’t bring myself to love the greengrocer as much as the butcher. While the butcher gives good value and often throws in a bit extra, the greengrocer charges exorbitant prices for ordinary produce and the staff are sullen. Oh well, I suppose I’m lucky to have them locally even if they’re not very nice.

As regular readers will have gathered, I’m not really a meat and potatoes kind of cook, but I make the occasional exception for fantastic local meat that you can pop in the oven and ignore. My butcher’s recipe reminded me of the  recipe for Roman Spring lamb in the Silver Spoon cookbook, so I’ve kind of Italian-ised it. I can’t be expected to roast meat without large amounts of garlic after all…

Roast Spring lamb with rosemary and potatoes

  • half a shoulder of lamb
  • a head of new season garlic
  • several branches of rosemary
  • 1/2 kilo of new potatoes
  • a glass of white wine
  • olive oil

Slice the potatoes thickly lengthwise and layer on the bottom of a lasagna pan. Scatter garlic cloves and rosemary stalks on top and add the wine and a cup or so of water. Rub olive oil over the lamb, sprinkle generously with sea salt and place on top of the potatoes. Cook at a low heat (gas mark 3, or 160 C) for 3 and 1/2 to 4 hours, adding more water if necessary.

While the lamb rests, prepare vegetables: I just grilled the asparagus with more sea salt.

Serves 4.