Sage and fig stuffed lamb

Sage and fig stuffed lamb

Leiths How to Cook
Peter Cassidy


Quantity Ingredient
3 onions
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves
100g pine nuts
100g dried figs
1 shoulder lamb, tunnel boned, about 1.75 kg
1-2 sage sprigs
300ml Brown chicken and veal stock
2 tablespoons clear honey
75ml white wine
75ml marsala
freshly ground black pepper


  1. Halve, peel and slice the onions. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan and sweat the onions until completely soft, then increase the heat and continue to cook until golden brown. Meanwhile, peel and crush the garlic and toast the pine nuts in a small frying pan.
  2. Cut the figs into slices, place in a small bowl and pour boiling water over to soften them. Add the garlic to the browned onions and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
  3. Add the toasted pine nuts and drained figs to the onions, reserving the fig soaking liquor for the sauce.
  4. Heat the oven to 220°C.
  5. Place the tunnel-boned lamb shoulder on a board. Add salt and pepper to the onion mixture, and tear in a few leaves from the sage sprigs, taking care not to add too many or the flavour can become medicinal. Push this mixture into the lamb, trying to spread it out well.
  6. Tie the shoulder at regular intervals with 3 pieces of string, then from end to end with a long piece of string, so that it is divided into 8 equal ‘segments’. Weigh the lamb and calculate the cooking time as 20 minutes per 450 g, plus 20 minutes. Season the outside of the lamb with salt and pepper and transfer to a roasting tin, tucking a couple of sage leaves underneath it. Pour the stock into the tin.
  7. Roast the lamb in the oven for 20 minutes, then lower the oven setting to 190°C and cook for the remainder of the calculated cooking time. About 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time, take the roasting tin from the oven, brush the lamb with the honey and return it to the oven.
  8. Remove the cooked lamb from the oven, transfer it to a serving dish and keep it warm while you make the sauce.
  9. Skim the fat from the juices in the roasting tin. Add the wine, Marsala and reserved fig liquor to the tin and bring to the boil over a high heat. Boil until reduced to a syrupy consistency, then adjust the seasoning and strain the sauce. Cut the lamb into rustic slices and serve with the sauce, mashed potatoes and a leafy salad or seasonal green vegetable.

Sewing up whole joints after stuffing

  • After stuffing either a tunnel- or open-boned joint you may need to sew up the open ends so the stuffing doesn’t fall out, and to ensure the joint keeps its shape as it cooks. You can follow the method of tying a shoulder as outlined in the recipe above, or alternatively use the following method:

    Use a larding needle; if it’s slightly curved, all the better. Use thin, old-fashioned white string or butcher’s string, but not nylon, which will melt at high temperatures. Leave a good length of string at the beginning and end and avoid elaborate knots as they are difficult to undo once the joint is cooked and you’re ready to carve. Simple, large loose stitches are best so the full length of string can be pulled out in one movement once the joint is cooked.
Leiths School of food and wine
cookery course
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