“Skilpadjie” lamb roast

I’ve recently teamed up with Radford Dale for an Easter-inspired lamb roast, paired with one of their Pinotages. With a notorious wine like the Radford Dale Frankenstein Pinotage, we’ve opted for a slightly daring combination of liver-stuffed leg of lamb, covered in sheep’s caul fat (or netting fat, also used to make “skilpadjies”), roasted to golden perfection with plenty of herbs. With added lamb boerewors in the stuffing, this “ugly duckling” roast becomes an elegant swan centrepiece with the most delicious gravy, fantastic served with creamy polenta or mashed potatoes. The Frankenstein cuts beautifully through the richness of the lamb fat and the slight bitterness of the liver.

If you love South African skilpadjies (lamb’s liver covered in sheep’s netting fat, roasted to perfection over hot coals), you’ll love this festive, larger scale rendition of it. I certainly do!

This is what the stuffed roast looks like before going into the oven. Caul fat, or netting fat, is used to cover the roast.

Ingredients: (serves 6)

For the stuffing:

15 ml butter
15 ml olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 sprigs thyme, woody stalks discarded
250 g free range chicken livers or lamb liver, roughly chopped
250 g lamb boerewors/sausage, casings removed
½ cup parsley, finely chopped
salt & pepper, to taste

For the roast:

1,5 kg boneless leg of lamb, butterflied
about 250 g sheep’s caul fat (netting fat)
salt & pepper, to taste
750 g baby potatoes
1 whole head of garlic, sliced in half horizontally
a handful fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, sage)
about 45 ml olive oil, for drizzling


In a large frying pan, add the butter and oil over medium heat. Fry the onion & thyme until lightly brown and fragrant, then transfer to a medium mixing bowl. Add the chopped liver, sausage, parsley and season with salt & pepper. Mix with a spatula until evenly textured.

On a clean chopping board, trim the lamb of any excess thick sections of fat (thin layers of fat should remain). Now lay the leg of lamb open, fat side down. Use a sharp long bladed knife to butterfly the thicker parts of the lamb even further until you have a rectangular piece of butterflied meat, roughly as big as an A4 piece of paper. Open up the caul fat (you’re looking for a piece that is slightly bigger than A4) on a clean baking tray, then place the butterflied meat on top of it, fat side down. Arrange the stuffing on top of the meat in an even layer, then roll it up lengthwise into a log shape, tucking in the seams at the bottom. Using kitchen string (or any other cotton string), tie the log at various intervals to keep shape.

Preheat the oven to 170 C. Carefully place the stuffed roast in a large roasting tray, then add the potatoes and garlic and scatter all over with herbs. Drizzle all over with olive oil, then roast uncovered for 1 hour 10 minutes. Turn up the heat to 220 C and roast for another 15 minutes, browning the fat layer. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes before carving. While the meat is resting, finish the gravy – optional; see below. Carve into slices, removing the string before enjoying the roast.

(To finish the gravy, carefully tip the pan juices into a small saucepan. Use a spoon to skim off most of the excess fat, then place over low heat. Add 1-2 teaspoon of liquid lamb or chicken stock, then thicken slightly using a slurry of corn flour and room temperature water (about 2 teaspoons of corn flour to 3 tablespoons of water). Pour the slurry into the hot gravy, then stir to mix and thicken. Serve hot alongside the roast.)

(This recipe was created in proud collaboration with Radford Dale Wines.)

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