Port braised rolled lamb

I’m not sure I should be sharing this. I’m not convinced I should be letting on just how simple it is to make! But as so many people have asked I thought I ought to… Plus as it’s unbelievably delicious and really rather simple to make so the more people cooking it the better!

I’ve made this port braised lamb (the dark roll in the photos) so many times as it’s perfect for when you have friends over as there’s needn’t be any last minute prep and extra slices freeze well for the next party or for supper when you want something nice but don’t want to cook. The recipe originally came from the hotel my uncle runs in North Wales and was all I used to order it’s so good. So good I thought I better make it myself.


I must admit though for something so simple I have had my fair share of disasters. The first was rather spectacular. It was Christmas time and I’d been watching Gordon Ramsey on TV making a beef Wellington. When his beef was rolled in ham he wrapped it in cling film, just as I was going to, twisted the ends like a Christmas cracker, picked it up and spun it in the air to tighten. So that’s what I did. I rolled my shredded lamb and tiny veggies in ham, wrapped it in cling film, twisted the ends, picked it up and spun it. I spun it with gusto.

I’m not sure if it was the perforated cling film or the complete lack of structural rigidity of my shredded meat but my results weren’t exactly the same as Gordon’s.

As I lifted it into the air and thrust it into my spin the cling film tore, the ham spilt and then the inevitable; out shot the lamb. It flew across the room with the vigour in which I spun it; it flew everywhere. There was lamb on the floor, lamb on the walls, lamb in the spout of the kettle and lamb in the toaster. I’m always messy but this was on another level. 2kg of slowly braised lamb scatter gunned across the kitchen. It was Heston Blumenthal meets Jackson Pollack. Not exactly what I had been hoping for…

So lesson 1, don’t Gordon your roll.


Next came the port toffee oven. This was less catastrophic in terms of area covered but arguably more in terms of time to clean up. I think the best way to describe it is to imagine a sticky port lake covering the entire of my oven’s floor. It was a nightmare. As my pot of lamb sat there, bubbling away, the juices slowly began to trickle out, with me totally oblivious, soon the drops began to make a puddle and then a lake which began to thicken and caramelise and by the time I discovered it was somewhere between a port chewit and a whether’s original. Not fun to scrape off. Not fun at all.

Lesson 2, seal you pan properly and check the oven a couple of times whilst cooking.

But let’s not let that distract us from the end result and the fact that it’s (relatively) simple to make. The lamb, a few veggies and a liberal ration of port are popped into the oven for a good five hours and out comes the most wonderful rich tender casserole which is then shredded, rolled into a ham covered sausage and left in the fridge (or freezer) until you’re ready to slice of portions, re-heat for all your friends and served doused in a good amount of port jus that was drained off the cooked lamb.

In these photos we served the rolled lamb with a cutlet, hassleback potato and pea puree as it was for my father’s Christmas party but mash, peas and carrots would be just as tasty (especially when the porty sauce is mixed in– yummy!) and you’d have a lot more time to spend with your friends. Having said that hassleback potatoes are definitely worth a try with their crisp fanned top and super soft buttery middle – glorified chips really. The Kitchn has a good step-by-step recipe here.



Serves 12

Inspired by The Imperial Hotel and featuring in Relish Wales

1.5g lamb shoulder, weighed without the bone but pop it in when roasting if you have it, diced into 1-2 inch pieces
4 carrots, diced
3 leeks, diced
3 celery sticks, finely sliced
4 sprigs of rosemary
500ml port
500ml lamb stock
1 jar redcurrant jelly

  • Preheat the oven to 140°C (fan)
  • Place the lamb shoulder, carrots, leeks and celery in a casserole pan. Add the rosemary, port, stock and redcurrant jelly, adding extra stock so that the meat and veg are just covered.
  • Put a piece of foil over the top of the pan, then the lid to make sure it is very well sealed. Pop in the oven and slow cook it for 5 hours until it all pulls apart easily.
  • Strain off the juices and reserve for serving.
  • Flake the lamb, mixing it well with the vegetables, season well.
  • Now for the sausage – you will make two. Lay four pieces of prosciutto on a sheet of cling film with long edges just overlapping, then top with 1.5 pieces to fatten the rectangle. Carefully form a sausage of lamb (only use half ) down the middle of this, squeezing out excess moisture as you go (it should be just under 30cm long and about 7cm in diameter ). Now to roll. Lift up the edge of cling film nearest to you and place of the lamb. Peal the cling film back down onto the work surface and roll the ham covered lamb away from you so that it finishes wrapping itself in ham (try to make this as tight as you can). Lift the cling film back up and wrap it around the ham covered lamb sausage, again as tightly as possible.
  • Lift this onto a baking tray (resisting the urge to spin). Make the second roll, pop into on the tray also and refrigerate, Roll it up, leave to cool and set it in the fridge (at least four hours)- which makes it much easier to slice into portions. As it cools the remaining fat will harden making it much easier to slice.
  • The sausage should be ok in the fridge for a few days. If you want to keep it longer slice each sausage into six and freeze.
  • When you are ready to enjoy each sausage needs to be sliced into six portions, placed on a baking tray cut side up, covered in foil and reheated at (180°) for 30mins until hot through. As it reheats boil the left over juices down to create a rich sauce.* Serve the rolled lamb with the jus and vegetables of your choice.

*If you are making this a long time in advance boil the juices down before refrigerating/ freezing to save space

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