Lamb’s year-round versatility means it’s as good as a barbecued cutlet in July as it is in a super-slow-cooked casserole in the depths of winter. Of course, if you’re looking for a really stunning Easter centrepiece, a leg of lamb is always a winner but why not try something new and maybe a bit unusual this time around?

Ask anyone when lamb is in season and you’re very likely to be told it’s Easter. But is that necessarily the case? Not really. Sheep give birth through a huge swathe of the year, from November all the way to May, meaning that lamb is actually in season all year long. Our custom of eating lamb at Easter is less about seasonality and more about religious tradition, and we associate lambs with spring because it’s the time of year they’re most visible and, yes, at their cutest.

Some of the lamb sold at Easter will be from very young animals, born before Christmas and fast-grown on high-energy feeds. At Pipers Farm we prefer to take our time – we don’t slaughter lambs before they’re 8 months old – because time equates to flavour and texture. The younger the age at which a lamb is slaughtered, the blander, paler and less distinctive the meat will be. When grown slowly to maturity, lamb meat has a singular, robust flavour that’s complemented by the contrasting sweetness of the fat. It’s this depth of flavour that makes lamb marry so well with hearty and punchy ingredients – rich red wine, complex spices, hot chilli, woody herbs and sweet or tart fruits.

Lebanese Lamb Shoulder with Almonds and Spices

For a spice-scented flavour of the east, cook 100g of Arborio rice until al dente. Drain and cool. Toast 100g of blanched almonds, then chop roughly before mixing with the rice, a handful of sticky chopped dates, half a shredded red onion, the grated zest and juice of 1 lemon, a good bunch of chopped flat leaf parsley and a couple of teaspoons of baharat spice mix.

Untie and open up a boneless shoulder of lamb, spread the stuffing mixture over the meat then re-roll and re-tie with string. Heat a heavy frying pan with a splash of vegetable oil and brown the rolled shoulder on all sides. Remove from the pan and place on a rack inside a roasting tin. Pour about 700ml of lamb or chicken stock into the tin – the lamb shoulder should be above the stock, not sitting in it.

Cover your roasting tin tightly with foil and put into a 150°C oven. Cook for 3 or 4 hours. Serve with crisp greens or minty broad beans and a drizzling of the reduced stock.

Lamb Saddle Salad with Goat’s Cheese and Peas

A bit of a tongue twister (don’t announce this dish as you bring it to the table if you’ve been at the sherry!) but a perfect, zingy spring or summer lunch or supper nonetheless.

Heat a splash of oil in an ovenproof frying pan until shimmering hot, then sear a saddle fillet of lamb on all sides until brown and crisping. Pop the pan into an oven preheated to 180°C and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and wrap the lamb in foil to rest while you make the salad.

Toss together some watercress, lamb’s lettuce (naturally), pea shoots and a few fresh mint leaves. Make a quick dressing by briskly combining 3 parts rapeseed oil with 1 part lemon juice, a teaspoon of runny honey, a small dollop of Dijon mustard and some salt and pepper. Toast some walnuts. Slice the lamb saddle fillet and arrange over the leaves then sprinkle with the toasted walnuts, a handful of raw, freshly podded peas and some crumbly goat’s cheese.

Drizzle the dressing over all of the elements... and you're done! 

Lamb Tagine with Apricots, Preserved Lemons and Chickpeas

This easy-to-make tagine is the perfect marriage of rich lamb with sweet apricots and sharp lemons.

Start by searing 1kg of diced lamb in batches in a hot casserole until browned on all sides. Remove from the pan. Quickly fry a couple of sliced red onions and a few fat garlic cloves until just soft but not brown. Return the meat to the pan and add a 240g can of chickpeas (drained), a 400g can of chopped plum tomatoes, a good handful of dried apricots (roughly chopped), a couple of preserved lemons (roughly chopped), about 200ml of chicken stock, a couple of tablespoons of ras el hanout spice mix, a sprinkle of chilli flakes and a good pinch of salt. Mix well.

Cook in a 160°C oven for at least 3 hours, checking from time to time and adding more spice if need and a splash of water or stock if the liquid gets low. The tagine is ready when the sauce has intensified and the lamb is falling-apart tender.

Serve with soft, herby couscous.

Lamb with Rhubarb

An unexpected but seasonal accompaniment to lamb at Easter, rhubarb’s astringent sharpness refreshes the sweetly fatty meat. Perfect with any roasting joint – shoulder, leg, loin or rack.

Pop your joint into the oven and cook according to instructions. About 15 minutes before the cooking time is up, chop some thick rhubarb stalks into thumb-sized lengths and place in an ovenproof dish, drizzle with a tiny bit of rapeseed oil and a big dollop of runny honey. Mix well, add a couple of slivers of orange zest, cover with foil and pop into the oven. When the final 15 minutes of cooking time is up, remove the lamb and let it rest. Remove the foil from the rhubarb and let it cook a little longer until it’s tender in the middle but still holding its shape. Serve the lamb and rhubarb with a light

Serve the lamb and rhubarb with a light cidery gravy infused with apple jelly and mint. 

Tandoori Whole Leg of Lamb

You don’t need to have a traditional tandoor oven to get an authentic taste of India. In a food processor, whizz a couple of onions, about 8 fat garlic cloves, 1 long red

In a food processor, whizz a couple of onions, about 8 fat garlic cloves, 1 long red chilli and a chunky thumb-sized piece of ginger to a smooth paste. Decant to a bowl and mix in a small tub of full-fat natural yoghurt, the juice of a large lemon and a heaped tablespoon of garam masala. Take a whole leg of lamb (with the bone in) and pierce it all over with a small sharp knife. Place the lamb in a large bowl or sealable bag and pour over the marinade, massaging it into all the holes. Leave for a good few hours – ideally overnight – for the yoghurt and lemon juice to work their tenderising magic.

Remove the lamb from the marinade and transfer to a roasting pan. Leave a good layer of the marinade on the skin – this will char and crisp during cooking for extra flavour. Put into a 160°C for 40 minutes per kilo for pink-in-the-middle perfection. If you’re feeling adventurous, once it’s oven roasted the joint can be further charred over a hot wood fire or barbecue for extra smoky authenticity. Don’t worry if the outside gets a bit blackened, the inside will still be flavoursome.