ANZAC Lamb Roast (Renee G)

My husband has discovered that many bloggers have a nickname for their partners while discussing them online, and he wants one too. The many suggestions were wild and furious but didn’t always strike the right ironic notes. After not much thought, he has settled on ‘Bismarck’. It apparently highlights his position in the household while still maintaining a sense of the ludicrous.

So, Bismarck decided that we needed a family holiday, and that we ought to combine it with some education to get around the recent discussion about whether you should take your children out of school for family holidays.

Torch at the war memorial
Torch at the war memorial

Because this year’s Anzac Day marks 100 years since the ill-fated Gallipoli landings in 1915, the children have chosen Anzac related texts for their prose entries in the Sydney Eisteddfod. Therefore taking them to visit the War Memorial in Canberra gives them a good visual overview of the events surrounding Anzac Day. Plus, the trip doubled as some research for the blog, and a family outing.

1 and 2 check out the displays at the museum
1 and 2 check out the displays at the museum
Number 2 at the Canberra ANZAC centre
Number 2 at the Canberra ANZAC centre

The War Memorial is well worth a visit. The displays are well researched, and effectively balance the horror of war and the emotions surrounding it. The ANZAC spirit is outlined there and the weight of history on offer at the War Memorial will stay with us long after we walked out the front door back into normal life.

Before they landed at Gallipoli, the Australian troops were known to be larrikins who didn’t listen to authority, and a joke about them was told in the training camps in Cairo.

Sentry: Halt! Who goes there?

Voice: Ceylon Planters’Rifles.

Sentry: Pass, friend.


Sentry: Halt! Who goes there?

Voice: Auckland Mounted Rifles.

Sentry: Pass, friend.


Sentry: Halt! Who goes there?

Voice: What the fuck has it got to do with you?

Sentry: Pass, Australian.

But they would show their bravery at Anzac Cove and create the legend of the ANZACs. On 25 April, 1915, British, Australian and New Zealand troops landed at what would later be dubbed Anzac Cove in an offensive against the Ottoman Empire who had sided with the Germans. The ANZACs were poorly led, according to an obsolete military strategy with limited value to the overall campaign. From April until the evacuation on 20 December, the Gallipoli campaign cost the lives of 86,692 Turks; 21,255 English and Irish soldiers; an estimated 10,000 Frenchmen; 8,709 Aussies; 2,779 NZers, and 1,407 Indian and other troops. Another 164,617 Turks were injured, and 97,397 Allies were injured. The ANZACs fought and gave their lives in the name of Australia and New Zealand and contributed to the national identity of both countries in a way that remains relevant today. The ANZAC legend was formed in the steeply eroded tangle of ridges and valleys of the Gallipoli Peninsula in the North West of Turkey.

Aside from the horrors of the battle itself, daily life was pretty grim for the ANZACS. Amongst the stench of decay, the battalions of flies and the constant noise of battle, they had to eat. According to the provisioning plan, each day the ANZAC soldiers were supposed to be given “one loaf of bread or 1lb of flour or 1lb biscuit (usually the last), 3oz of cheese, 1/4 lb jam, 1lb fresh meat or 1lb preserved meat, 2oz peas, beans or dried potatoes (usually the last), 1/2 oz salt, pinch of mustard, pepper, 3oz sugar, 5/8 oz tea”. But the reality was that poor planning meant they often survived on dry biscuits known as ‘hard tack’ and occasionally a can of ‘bully beef’ or some jam. The ‘hard tack’ has been reinvented as ‘ANZAC biscuits’, and have proven to be a good deal more digestible than the version served up at Anzac Cove.

In a similar vein, we transform the unappealing ‘bully beef’ into a meal worthy of the sacrifice made by the ANZACS. The Gallipoli hills have many different shrubs, but one that has taken up legendary status is the wild rosemary. Rosemary is also known as a herb that heals the memory, and these two pieces of symbolism is why many people wear a spring of rosemary to the annual ANZAC parade. Our ‘bully beef’ will be a gorgeous lamb roast, bathed in rosemary, as a commemoration to our soldiers and to those they fought. It is how we will honour their memory and their sacrifice and it will remind us that we live in peace as a result of their selfless actions.

We will remember them.

Rosemary flowers
Rosemary flowers

ANZAC Lamb Roast

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: med
  • Print

  • Lamb leg
  • 1kg potatoes
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • Carrots
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Bottle of beer
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Olives
  • Haloumi cheese
  • Can of Chickpeas
  • Balsamic glaze
2pm – How to prepare

Cut a few slits into the lamb and insert garlic into the cuts. Take the branches of rosemary and tie them around the lamb with string. Place into a roasting dish on a roasting rack. Put some onions and garlic onto the rack as well, and pour the bottle of beer into the bottom of the roasting dish. Cover the whole dish with tinfoil and place into the oven at 220oC for 15 minutes.

Lamb ready to roast
Lamb ready to roast

How to cook
After fifteen minutes, turn the oven down to a fairly cool temperature, about 150C and ignore it for three hours.

5pm – Par-boil the potatoes, carrots and sweet potatoes. Place them into a second roasting dish, liberally cover with olive oil (or even better with duck fat, or other fat saved from other dishes). Shake a few teaspoons of salt (I use ‘garlic and herb salt’) over the top and place into the oven on a shelf below the lamb. Even half an hour, give this a shake to move the potatoes around the dish and stop the bottom ones from burning/sticking. Because the lamb is covered it will stay soft inside, but if you want a crispier skin, then take off the tinfoil with about half an hour to go.

6.45pm – Take the lamb out of the oven and place it to the side where it can rest. Remove all the rosemary branches from the lamb. Turn the oven up to max to finish off the potatoes and make them all crispy. Drain the liquids off the bottom of the roasting dish. This will make lovely gravy. Depending on how much liquid you have left (should be about half a cup), use half for tonight’s gravy and keep the other half for the leftover pie. Place it in a pot and add a handful of flour and stir until most of the lumps are out. Add water slowly as it thickens until you have enough gravy for everyone and it is the right consistency. It’s a bit of trial and error to get right but if it’s too thick, just add more water. If it’s too runny, boil it for longer to reduce it down again. When it is about right, add some soy sauce to deepen the colour. The soy sauce will also add a bit of saltiness, so you don’t need to add salt, but you can add pepper if you want. If you like hot food, you can also add some tabasco or XO sauce. If you are fussy, you can put the gravy through a sieve to get rid of the lumps, but otherwise, just stir until most of them are out. I usually can’t be bothered with the sieve step, so I just squash them against the side of the pot with the spoon, and this breaks them up as I stir.

Turkish salad
Turkish salad

How to serve

Once cooked, the lamb will be soft and falling off the bone. Serve it with a salad. I made a salad inspired by the Turkish war meals. They were given olives, cheese, and either beans or chickpeas. So I fried some haloumi and added it to a salad bowl of cherry tomatoes, olives and a drained can of chickpeas. A bit of pepper cracked over the top and a drizzle of balsamic glaze and that’s the side salad done.

Lamb leg plated with salad
Lamb leg plated with salad

How to store for leftovers

Place the leftover potatoes in one container and pour the gravy over the top. Put any leftover meat, including the bone, into a pot and add water so it just covers the bone (not all the meat on top). Boil it until the meat loosens off the bone, then place a colander over a bowl and pour the whole lot in there. The bone and meat will stay in the colander, and the liquid will go into the bowl to use as stock. Keep the stock in a container. In a separate container keep all the meat, then throw out the bones.



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