Being married to an Icelander means that a roasted leg of lamb regularly makes an appearance at our dinner table. However, it’s very difficult to find an authentic Icelandic leg of lamb outside of Iceland. However, I’m fortunate to live near the Alexandra Palace Farmer’s Market which is the source of fantastic local and regional farm produce. Traveling all the way from Wales to London each Sunday is the award winning Morgan’s Family Butchers stand. I regularly purchase incredibly fresh cuts of meat from them such as the leg of lamb I used for this dish. Thank goodness for them, otherwise, my husband would be heading back to Iceland for his roast dinner!!!
In Iceland it’s very common to marinate lamb with blueberries, as they can be found growing all over the countryside. Sometimes people confuse them with the Icelandic crowberry, but the blueberry plants can be identified based on their red leaves. You can find blueberry marinated lamb in most Icelandic grocery stores, but a homemade marinade is always best!
Up to 48 hours before roasting…
Place the 2kg leg of lamb in a roasting dish or pan. Make approximately 10 incisions all over the leg that are roughly 1cm deep. These will enable the marinade to penetrate the surface and infuse the flavours into the meat. Season the leg with salt and pepper.
Now, you’re ready to make your marinade. Combine and thoroughly mix together coarsely ground juniper berries, blueberry jam, fresh thyme leaves, Worchestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, honey, gin, cinnamon and olive oil (I used Collana Verde‘s Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which I also purchased at the farmer’s market and is incredible!!!).
Spread the marinade over the leg of lamb, cover and refrigerate for up to 48 hours before roasting.
48 hours later…
Set the oven to 220°C. Remove the lamb from the refrigerator, uncover it and place it in the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, lower the temperature to 175°C and cook one more hour for a medium-rare roasted leg of lamb.
Once your leg of lamb has reached the desired temperature, remove from the oven, place on a carving board, cover with foil and let it rest for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, you’re ready to start making the gravy. Make sure you save the lamb drippings. Add flour to them while still in the roasting dish. Whisk the flour and drippings together while scraping the sides of the dish to include all the flavourful bits. Once everything is thoroughly combined, add to a saucepan. Add the remaining gravy ingredients, stir together and bring to a gentle simmer over medium high heat. Once the sauce is thickened, turn off the heat and keep warm until serving.
Once the gravy is finished, you’re ready to carve the leg of lamb. Look at all the juices running off this incredible piece of meat! So incredibly juicy and delicious!
Finally, serve with gravy, gratin potatoes and your favourite vegetables. As per Icelandic tradition, we always include red cabbage and green peas. I wouldn’t dare ‘rock the boat’ or Viking ship rather and include other vegetables. This is Icelandic tradition!!!
A Bordeaux blend is a perfect pairing for this Icelandic blueberry & juniper leg of lamb. Since a Premier Grand Cru Classe Chateau Margaux wine is a bit out of my price range (okay…way out!!!), I found this fantastic Chateau La Gurge 2014 from the Margaux AOC. This particular wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (44%), Merlot (48%) and Petit Verdot (8%). Cabernet provides tannins, structure and acidity to the wine along with traditional black currant flavours. While Merlot adds a smoother, more velvety finesse on the palate along with flavours of fleshy, ripe plum. The Petit Verdot offers colour, tannins and flavours of blueberry and herbs to the blend. Of all the Bordeaux blends, Margaux wines are distinguished by their floral violet aromas. Additionally, these wines are known for pairing perfectly with lamb. So, I highly recommend buying a bottle, as this was a fantastic pairing with this dish!
Marinated Blueberry & Juniper Berry Leg of Lamb with a glass of Margaux wine
- 2 kg leg of lamb Fresh is best!
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 15 juniper berries, coarsely ground
- 1/2 cup blueberry jam
- 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tsp Worchestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp honey
- 3 tbsp gin
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- drippings from the cooked leg of lamb
- 2 tbsp flour
- 2 cups lamb stock
- 2 tbsp red wine
- salt & pepper to taste
Marinade (2 days before)
- Two days prior to cooking, place the leg of lamb in a roasting dish.
- Season the leg of lamb with salt and pepper
- Make 10 incisions all over the leg of lamb
- Combine the marinade ingredients and mix well with a whisk.
- Cover the leg of lamb with the marinade, cover and refrigerate for up to 48 hours before cooking.
- Set the oven to 220°C
- Uncover the marinated leg of lamb and roast in the oven for 30 minutes.
- Turn the heat down to 175°C and continue roasting for 1 hour, until the lamb is medium rare.
- When you've reached the desired temperature, remove it from the oven, cover with foil and let it rest for 15 minutes.
- Using the drippings from the leg of lamb, scrape any bits that are stuck on the side of the roasting dish with a whisk.
- Add the flour, mix together thoroughly and pour into a saucepan.
- Add the remaining ingredients, stir together and bring to a gentle simmer over medium high heat.
- Once the sauce has thickened, season with salt and pepper.
- Carve the lamb and serve with gravy, gratin potatoes and your choice of vegetables. I chose red cabbage and peas, which is typical for an Icelandic roast dinner.
- Red Bordeaux blend – Margaux AOC is best!