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a yummy substitute for maccas: mediterranean roast lamb

Sunday Roast: A Brief History

It has been stinking hot in Canberra since December. The kind of weather where you don’t want to move any more than necessary otherwise you’ll break into a slick sweat. My body doesn’t function in heat and I spend most of my time having cold showers and standing in the cool room at my work.

And then! A freakish bout of cold weather on a Sunday in February (and no, this does not negate global warming).  We had 40?C on Saturday and then then temperature plummeted to a chilly 26?C. I was so excited that I decided to cook a Sunday roast.

While Googling different recipes for roasts I came across a couple of different sites that explained the origin of the Sunday roast. The preparation and consumption of roasts, especially beef, have been an integral part of British national identity for hundreds of years. This is demonstrated in the following quote from Henri Misson in 1698: ‘It is a common practice, even among People of Good Substance, to have a huge Piece of Roast-Beef on Sundays, of which they stuff until they can swallow no more, and eat the rest cold, without any other Victuals, the other six Days of the Week’.

Before ovens, people of means used spits over large fireplaces to roast their meat, usually for about four hours. The leftover meat sustained the family for the following week as it could be used in stews and pies etc.

Unfortunately, the majority of the population did not own a large fireplace and had to find alternate ways of cooking. The most popular method was to purchase a small amount of meat and drop it off at the bakers to be cooked in the bread ovens. Since Sunday was the only day bread was not baked there was space available in the ovens to roast the meat. Thus the tradition of the Sunday roast came about.

The following recipe has a slight Mediterranean influence. Be sure to taste before you add any extra salt as the prosciutto does a lot of the work for you in that department.

Roast Lamb with Sage and Prosciutto with Beef and Red Wine Sauce


Olive oil
1 leg of lamb (1kilo)
8 sage leaves
4 cloves of garlic, halved, then crushed with the flat side of a knife
8 strips of prosciutto, 4 halved lengthways
4 sprigs of rosemary, leaves stripped
4 medium sized potatoes, quartered (kipfler of coliban – white fleshed and good for roasting)
4 carrots, halved lengthways and chopped into 2cm pieces
1 cup of beef stock
½ cup of red wine


1. Preheat oven to 200?C.

2. With a large knife make eight incisions in the leg of lamb, each approximately two centimetres deep. Take a sage leaf and one of the pieces of garlic and wrap them both in one of the halved strips of prosciutto and push into an incision in the meat. Repeat eight times.

3. Pour a generous splash of olive oil into a medium sized baking tray and place lamb in the middle. Place in the oven and cook for 30 minutes.

4. Meanwhile place the vegetables in a large mixing bowl with a little olive oil with the rosemary leaves and some cracked pepper. Mix well.

5. After thirty minutes, remove the baking tray from the oven and add the vegetables, ensuring they are evenly spaced and not too crowded. Return to the oven for a further thirty minutes.

6. In 20 minutes, place the remaining strips of prosciutto over the lamb and return to the oven.

7. Remove the tray from the oven and place the lamb and vegetables on a board and leave to sit for five to ten minutes. Place the baking tray, still containing the juices from roasting on the stove over low heat and add the wine and stock. Simmer gently for five to ten minutes until sufficiently thickened.

8. Bring everything to the table and begin carving the meat!

Serves 4 with leftovers

By Emma Robinson

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