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Lamb with plums

Ask your butcher to bone the lamb for you.

ingredients

serves 4
1.25 kg (2 1/2 lb) best end neck of lamb in one piece, boned
500 g (1 lb) dark cooking plums
15 g (1/2 oz) margarine or butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons dried mixed herbs
75 g (3 oz) wholemeal breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons hot chicken stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper

sauce

15 g (1/2 oz) margarine or butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons plain flour
300 ml (1/2 pint) hot chicken stock
bouquet garni
4 tablespoons dry white wine
few drops of red food colouring (optional)

method

1. Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4.

2. Make a slit across the width of the thick end of the lamb, to make a pocket for the stuffing. Make the slit about 4 cm (1 1/2 inches) deep, but do not cut right through.

3. Reserve 2 whole plums for the garnish. Stone and chop the rest.

4. To make the stuffing: melt the margarine in a small frying-pan, add the onion and fry gently for 5 minutes until soft and lightly coloured.

5. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the parsley, herbs, breadcrumbs and one-third of the chopped plums. Gradually add the stock and stir well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Place the lamb skin side down on a flat surface and spread the stuffing over it, and also push it into the slit. Roll the lamb and tie it with trussing thread or fine string in several places. Place the lamb in a roasting tin and roast in the oven for 45 minutes.

7. Turn the lamb over and roast for a further 45 minutes or until cooked to your liking. Meanwhile, make the sauce: melt the margarine in a small saucepan, add the onion and fry gently for 5 minutes until soft and lightly coloured. Sprinkle in the flour and stir over low heat for 1 - 2 minutes. Gradually stir in the stock, bring to the boil, then add the remaining chopped plums, the bouquet garni and salt and pepper to taste. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

8. Remove the bouquet garni from the sauce, then strain the sauce through a sieve, pressing hard with a wooden spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Set the sauce aside. Halve, stone and slice the 2 remaining plums.

9. When the lamb is cooked, lift it out of the roasting tin and keep hot with any loose stuffing from the tin.

10. Pour off all the fat from the roasting tin and place the tin on top of the cooker. Pour in the wine and bring to the boil, scraping up all the sediment from the sides and bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.

11. Stir in the sauce, lower the heat and simmer for 1 minute, then strain to remove any black specks if necessary. If liked, stir in food colouring to make the sauce pink. Taste and adjust seasoning. Keep hot.

12. Carve the lamb into 8 thick slices and arrange on a warmed serving platter. Spoon a little sauce over each slice. Garnish with the sliced plums. Serve at once with the remaining sauce handed separately.

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