Rolled leg of lamb stuffed with cherries, dried apricots, pistachios with crispy jewelled cherry rice

This fresh cherry twist on the usual Christmas main pairs tender lamb with jewelled crispy rice.


Preheat oven to 240c/220c fan. Place the breadcrumbs, parsley, egg yolk and some seasoning in the food processor. Blend until it is a paste.

Season the the meat with the skin side down. Spread the paste horizontally down the centre of the meat. You want to be able to roll a long thin roll. Top with the cherries, pistachios and apricots.

Roll up and tie tightly with kitchen string.

Place on a baking tray with a rack. Season well with salt and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes and then turn the temperature down to 200c/180c fan and cook for another 15 minutes.

Remove from oven, cover with foil and let rest for 20 minutes.

When ready to serve, thickly slice the meat and arrange on a platter. Serve with the crispy jewelled rice and a bowl of Greek yogurt to spoon over.

Wash the rice 2-3 times in a large bowl of water until the water comes out clear. Drain and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Heavily salt the water and add the rice. Boil until al dente, about 5-6 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.

While the rice is cooking, Place the cherries in a saucepan with the cinnamon. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat. Saute for 7-8 minutes and then remove from the heat.

Using a heavy skillet or frying pan, about 25-28cm wide, place a large piece of non-stick baking paper in the bottom. Add the butter, saffron threads and vegetable oil and gently melt. Turn off and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix two good handfuls of the cooked rice with the Greek yogurt. Press this mixture into the bottom and sides of the frying pan.

Mix the remaining rice with the cherries, the liquid and the almonds. Press this into the frying pan.

Turn the heat on the lowest setting your hob will go. Use a wooden spoon handle to make holes into the rice mixture, pressing it all the way to the bottom of the pan. This will allow the steam to release while the rice crisps.

Cook for 25 minutes uncovered. When ready to eat, place a large platter over the rice. Using oven gloves, carefully flip the rice over.

Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and dill.

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2 kilo leg of lamb boned and pounded flat
75g fresh breadcrumbs
20g flat leaf parsley
1 egg yolk
20 pitted fresh cherries
10 soft dried apricots halved
50g chopped pistachios
Greek yogurt for serving
400g basmati rice
200g fresh or frozen cherries pitted
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsps butter
3 tbsps vegetable oil
3 tbsps Greek yogurt
Large pinch saffron threads crushed
50g chopped blanched almonds
2 tbsps chopped parsley
2 tbsps chopped fresh dill