From a very young age, one of Neven's favourite pastimes was to shadow his mother in the kitchen, watching her cook; his pastime soon became ...
3kg (6½lb) leg of lamb, preferably at room temperature
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tblsp dried rosemary
½ tsp ground salt
1 tblsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tblsp rapeseed oil
Wilted spinach with garlic, steamed baby new potatoes tossed in chopped fresh mixed herbs (mint, chives and flat-leaf parsley) and spiced red currant compote, to serve
For the Spiced Red Currant Compote:
75g (3oz) sugar
Pinch of dried chilli flakes
1 cinnamon stick, crushed into tiny pieces or 1 tsp ground
200g (7oz) red currants, removed from stalks
Good splash ruby red port
Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F), Gas mark 7. Remove as much of the surface fat as practical from the lamb. Mix the garlic and dried rosemary with the salt and pepper and rapeseed oil; then rub all over the leg of lamb.
Put the smeared lamb on a rack in a roasting tin (you might line the tin first with tin foil to make for an easier clean up). Roast for 30 minutes, then turn the heat down to 180°C (350°F), Gas mark 4 and roast for another 1½ hours until cooked through and tender but still slightly pink. If in doubt, check the internal temperature of the lamb with an instant-read thermometer. Continue to check every 10 minutes; when it reaches 130F for medium rare (125F for very rare in its thickest part (check it in several places), it's done.
Transfer the leg of lamb to a carving platter and cover loosely with foil, then leave to rest in a warm place for 15-20 minutes to allow the juices to settle. Carve into slices and arrange on warmed plates
Carve the lamb into slices and arrange on warmed serving plates with the new potatoes and a spoonful of the red currant compote. Add some spinach to each plate to serve.
For the Spiced Red Currant Compote, place the sugar in a small, heavy-based pan with two tablespoons of water. Cook over a gentle heat for a couple of minutes, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved. Increase the heat, bring to the boil and add the chilli and cinnamon, then boil fast for 1 minute. Add the red currants with the port, bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 4-5 minutes or until the berries are starting to soften but are still holding their shape. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for a few minutes so that the flavours can combine.