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Master your Easter feast
7:00am Saturday 23rd March 2013 in Lifestyle
Prepare a feast for your family this Easter. Keeley Bolger sources recipes from the Masterchef experts.
By Keeley Bolger
Endless chocolate eggs, slabs of simnel cake and heavenly hot cross buns might be tempting, but there's only one treat that turns MasterChef judge Gregg Wallace's head at Easter, and that's roast lamb.
"Roast lamb is my favourite, favourite roast meat," says Wallace, who has just released a new book, MasterChef Cookery Course, with fellow TV host John Torode.
"I just love the succulent pink flesh with crispy fat on top. I would walk bare foot over hot coals for a bit of well-roasted pink lamb!" he enthuses.
The famous foodie, who is back on BBC One with the new series of MasterChef, says the spring lunchtime classic is what he will be serving up for his family on Easter Sunday.
"I'll be having my mum, my brothers Biffo and Adam, and their children over for a big Easter lunch this year. We'll be having lamb!" he says.
And while roast lamb is very traditional British fare, Wallace has picked up a number of tips from his travels around the world to make the dish extra tasty.
"My top tip is to put anchovies over the lamb before you cook it - as the heat rises in the oven the anchovies melt, and leave the lamb tasting amazing," he says. "I picked that up in Italy."
Torode is also a huge fan of lamb and, for him - as many will agree - getting the roast potatoes just right is crucial for any Sunday lunch.
"For wonderful Easter roast potatoes, score the skin of the flesh quite deep on both sides of your leg of lamb, then start cooking it," suggests Torode. "When you're ready to cook your potatoes, take the lamb out of the tray, lay your pre-boiled potatoes in the roasting tray and put the leg of lamb on a cake rack over the top of the potatoes. Let the lamb roast over the potatoes."
Of course, even top chefs like Wallace and Torode will be indulging in some chocolate eggs this Easter.
"I'll be having a big family lunch by the sea this year," says Torode. "There will be lots of children - so lots of eggs!"
Now get ready to crack this blowout Easter banquet in two shakes of a lamb's tail.
Here are some roast recipes from the duo's new book, plus some more cooking tips from Torode...
Torode's roast lamb tips
:: When buying lamb, it should be pink or red in colour. Any meat that is darker will be hogget or mutton and stronger in flavour.
:: All lamb should have just a thin coating of white fat. Choose lamb with moderate marbling which will keep it moist when cooking.
:: Before placing lamb into the roasting tin, stud with rosemary. Break the rosemary into small sprigs, use a small sharp knife to make incisions in the lamb and poke in sprigs of rosemary.
:: Use roasted garlic as a condiment, halving the bulbs and squeezing it from the skin.
Roasted leg of lamb
1.8kg (4lb) leg of lamb
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3-4 whole bulbs of garlic, washed
6-8 whole echalion shallots, washed
For the gravy:
150ml red wine
450ml vegetable stock
1tbsp redcurrant jelly
Preheat the oven to 190C (375F/gas mark 5). Place the lamb on a board and stud with rosemary.
Place the lamb in a roasting tin, drizzle over the oil, and season well.
Scatter the whole garlic and shallots around the leg of lamb.
Roast for one hour 40 minutes for pink, and two hours for cooked through.
Check the meat after one hour and baste. If the garlic and shallots look like they are tender and ready, then set aside. They can be added back to the roasting tin for the final 10 minutes to warm through.
When ready, remove the lamb to a carving board, cover with foil, and rest for 10 minutes.
Spoon off any excess fat from the juices in the roasting tin. Place the roasting tin on the heat and add the wine, stock, and redcurrant jelly. Stir well to scrape all the sediment from the base of the pan. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Pour in the meat juices from the rested lamb. Adjust the seasoning to taste. Pour, through a sieve if necessary, into a gravy boat. Serve the lamb with the roasted garlic, whole roasted shallots, and the gravy.
Stir fried spring greens and leeks
2 small leeks
500g spring greens
4tbsp pine nuts
Salt and pepper
Trim and wash two small leeks and diagonally slice into 2cm (¾inch) thick pieces.
Finely shred the spring greens.
Heat 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil in a large frying pan or wok, then add 4 tablespoons of pine nuts and stir-fry until golden.
Remove from the heat and drain on kitchen paper. Add 2 tablespoons more oil to the pan then add the leeks and stir-fry over medium heat until they are softening - for about 3 minutes.
Next, add the greens, salt and pepper and 4 tablespoons of water. Stir-fry for 3 minutes until the greens are tender.
Top with pine nuts and season well.
Roasted baby carrots with lemon and cumin seeds
300g young bunched carrots
2tsp cumin seeds
Zest and juice of one small lemon
2tbsp olive oil
Trim and scrape the young bunched carrots, leaving a little of the green stem in place. Place them in cold water to prevent them browning while you prepare the rest of the meal.
Drain the carrots and place them in a roasting tin along with the cumin seeds, sugar, zest and juice of a small lemon, and olive oil. Toss to coat.
Roast at 190C (375F/gas mark 5) for 30-35 minutes or until caramelised in places and just tender.
Crushed new potatoes with watercress
1kg Charlotte new potatoes
A grating of nutmeg
Ground black pepper
Place the new potatoes in a large pan, cover with salted water and bring to the boil. Boil for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Drain and return to the pan.
Add the washed and chopped watercress, butter, freshly ground black pepper and a good grating of nutmeg. Cover the pan and shake well to coat the potatoes in the butter and watercress, which will wilt.
Use a large spoon to press the potatoes lightly, so that they just burst and can soak up the butter and watercress flavour.
Fresh mint sauce
50g fresh mint
3tbsp caster sugar
4tbsp white wine vinegar
Tear the leaves off the fresh mint and finely chop. Place in a bowl, stir in the caster sugar, and leave to infuse for five minutes - the sugar helps draw the flavours out of the mint.
Add the white wine vinegar and water. Mix well.
:: MasterChef Cookery Course is published by DK, priced £26. Available now
:: MasterChef continues on BBC One