Roast lamb with thyme and red wine sauce

Lammstek med timjan-rödvinsås

Roast lamb with thyme and red wine sauce

Sheep are unfussy eaters. They can find food virtually anywhere and live on very sparse stony land or heathland. As a result, they were originally the animal of the poor in Sweden as anyone could keep a few sheep on whatever land they happened to have. For this reason, lamb and mutton were often held in low esteem. Fortunately that is now beginning to change as people begin to appreciate traditional foods, including some tender and tasty roast lamb.

This recipe adapted from a book by Inga Wallenquist and Östergötlands Länsmuseum. Östergötland is a large province south of Stockholm dominated by the Linköping and Norrköping. It is an attractive region with interesting towns, pleasant countryside and the archipelago to the east.

The meat is cooked at quite a low temperature for a short time, which helps to keep it tender, succulent and full of flavour. In Sweden, meat is often cooked more slowly than in the UK and a meat thermometer is nearly always used, to ensure that the meat is cooked to perfection. John Duxbury


Recipe summary for roast lamb with red wine sauce


•  Garnish the lamb with some thyme flowers. (Silver thyme (Thymus × citriodorus 'Argenteus') is an attractive plant which I grown largely for decoration, using just the flowers for garnishing some dishes. It has lemon-scented green leaves edged in silver and produces lilac flowers in early summer.

•  Serve the lamb with korngryn och rotsaker (pearl barley and root vegetables), another traditional dish from Östergötland.

•  The dish is also particularly pretty when garnished with fresh lingonberries, thyme flowers and a side serving of rårörda lingon (a kind of lingonberry jam) or redcurrant sauce.


1 kg (2 lb) boneless leg of lamb
2 tsp   fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp   fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
1   unwaxed lemon, zest only
6-8   black peppercorns, roughly crushed
½ tbsp   oil
½ tbsp   butter

Red wine sauce

1 tbsp   caster (superfine) sugar
250 ml (1 cup) red wine
250 ml (1 cup) stock, preferably game and wild mushroom or beef
1 tsp   thyme leaves
2   garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 tsp   soy sauce
1 tbsp   cornflour (corn starch), mixed with a little water
60 g (½ stick) butter (optional)
    salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


1. Pre-heat the oven to 130°C (250°F, gas ½, fan 120°C).

2. Cut away all the outer fat from the lamb, cut it into smaller joints and tie with string if necessary.

3. Season the small joints with thyme, rosemary, lemon zest and pepper.

4. Heat the oil in a frying pan. When hot add the butter. Brown the joints in two batches.

5. Roast until the inner temperature reaches 60°C (140°C), about 30 minutes. Remove the meat from the oven, cover with foil and leave to rest somewhere warm for at least 30 minutes.

6. Melt the caster (superfine) sugar in a saucepan and add the red wine, stock, thyme, garlic, soy sauce and juices from the meat. Boil steadily until reduced by half.

7. Remove the sauce from heat and then stir in the cornflour mixture. Return the sauce to the heat and simmer gently for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly until thickened.

8. Whisk in the butter (optional) and then season to taste with salt and pepper.

9. Slice the lamb, pour over some of the sauce and then garnish with fresh rosemary leaves or thyme flowers. Serve the rest of the sauce in a warm jug.


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