Thyme-glazed roast lamb with honey and cider gravy

A delicious roast lamb recipe from Spoonfuls of Honey by Hattie Ellis to enjoy with a glass of wine.

The sweetness of roast lamb is enhanced by a honey glaze scattered with thyme and a sharp-sweet gravy made of cider and honey. This dish is inspired by the association of Wales with bees and honey, as well as lamb. The International Bee Research Association (IBRA), founded in 1949 by Dr Eva Crane, is based in Cardiff and IBRA’s remarkable bee- and honey-related library is now housed at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth. It consists of some 4,000 books and 50,000 academic papers and periodicals relating to insects and honey from around the world.

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Serves 6, with leftovers

6–8 medium–large floury potatoes, peeled
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2kg/4lb 8oz leg of lamb
3 tbsp olive oil
2 bushy sprigs of thyme
1 tsp plain flour
1 tbsp honey (thyme honey is perfect)
honey and cider gravy
½ tbsp plain flour
250ml/9fl oz dry cider
200ml/7fl oz stock (any kind, but beware
of oversaltiness if using cubes)
1 tsp thyme leaves
about 1½ tbsp honey

Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7. Cut the potatoes into large chunks of roughly equal size, put them in a pan of well-salted water, bring to the boil and boil for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, slash the top of the lamb approximately five times, about 5mm/¼in deep. Rub 1 tbsp oil all over the lamb and season well with salt and pepper. Run your fingers down the thyme sprigs, from base to tip, to scatter the leaves over the meat, reserving ½ tsp to add just before serving.

Drain the potatoes and rough up the outsides using two forks. Season with pepper and sprinkle over the flour. Toss the potatoes around in the flour.

Put a roasting pan in the oven with 2 tbsp oil for 3 minutes or so, until it is very hot. Add the potatoes and turn them in the fat, then push to the outside of the pan. Put the lamb in the middle, return to the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Turn the oven down to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5 and continue to cook for 15 minutes per 500g/1lb 2oz for pink lamb and 20 minutes per 500g/1lb 2oz if you prefer your meat well-done. Turn the potatoes around in the fat once or twice during cooking.

Remove the potatoes and put in a serving dish, crisping them up further in the oven if necessary. Transfer the lamb to a carving board or a large serving platter. Cover loosely with foil and leave in a warm place to rest while you make the gravy.

For the gravy, put the roasting pan over a medium–low heat. Sprinkle in the flour, stir it into the fat and cook for a minute or so. Add the cider and stock and stir well to lift up all the remaining tasty bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the thyme leaves. Allow the gravy to bubble away until slightly thickened, then add the honey.

Warm 1 tbsp honey, then brush this over the lamb and scatter with the reserved thyme leaves – they will stick to the honey. Tip any juices that have come out of the lamb into the gravy and stir to combine.

Serve the lamb and potatoes with the gravy. The leeks with spicy pollen breadcrumbs (page 96) and/or the ginger-glazed carrots (page 93) go very well with this, along with a green vegetable.

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Recipe extracted from Spoonfuls of Honey by Hattie Ellis, published by Pavilion. Photograph by Maja Smend. Click here to buy this book.