WITH Easter around the corner, it’s the perfect time to feast on succulent lamb as chef Mark Sargeant explains.

Mark, who was seen on the first series of ITV reality cooking show Hell’s Kitchen with his fiery old boss Ramsay, is looking forward to tucking into a succulent lamb lunch with his family this Easter.

“Lamb is one of the bestsellers in restaurants, certainly all the restaurants I’ve ever worked in, whether it’s fine dining or not,” explains the 40-year-old, who is working with the Simply Beef & Lamb campaign to encourage us to be more adventurous.

“Generally, when people go shopping, they go straight for chicken or beef and still see lamb as an occasion meat. But it’s fantastic, available all year round and the cheaper cuts are the best cuts, as long as you know how to use them.”

Sargeant will be going all-out so that his family’s Easter lunch will be extra special.

“My eldest daughter turned four in March, so we’ll be doing an Easter egg hunt for the second year running,” says the chef, who runs the Rocksalt restaurant in Folkestone, Kent, where he lives with his two daughters and fiancee.

“We always have lamb over Easter, and my mother-in-law always makes a simnel cake, so we keep it traditional.

If you fancy trying some new twists on lamb classics, here’s Sargeant’s favourite roast lamb and a tagine recipe.

Mini lamb roasting joint with warm spices (Serves 2-3) 1 x 350-400g lean mini lamb leg or shoulder roasting joint 450g small new potatoes, quartered 2 medium onions, peeled and cut into wedges 4tsp oil 3 fresh bay leaves, torn Seasonal veg, to serve For the warm spice mix: 1tsp cumin powder 1tsp turmeric 2tsp ground coriander Salt and black pepper Juice of 1 small orange Preheat the oven to Gas mark 4-5/180-190C. Place the potatoes and onions in the base of a non-stick roasting tin. Drizzle with half the oil and sprinkle over the bay leaves.

Make the spice mix by combining all the ingredients for the mix together with the remaining oil. Place the joint on a chopping board and make several slits over the surface, then brush the spice mix all over. (If time allows, marinate the joint in the spice mix for at least two hours, or overnight, in the fridge.) Once you’ve covered the lamb, place it on top of the potatoes and roast uncovered for 35-40 minutes (for medium). Cover the meat with foil if browning too quickly. Serve with the potatoes and seasonal vegetables.

Lamb tagine with pomegranates (Serves 6) 675g lean boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 2.5cm/1inch cubes 2tbsp oil 3 large shallots or 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed 2tsp ground ginger 1/4tsp ground turmeric 1/4tsp sweet paprika Salt and black pepper Pinch of saffron threads 450ml hot water 1 cinnamon stick 2 sprigs fresh thyme 3-4 dried apricots, roughly chopped 3tbsp freshly chopped coriander 2tbsp fresh pomegranate seeds Rice or couscous, to serve Heat the oil in a large, three-pint-deep ovenproof dish and add the onions, ginger, turmeric, paprika and seasoning. Cook over a low heat for one to two minutes. Add the meat and garlic, coat in the flavoured oil and cook for four to six minutes.

Add the saffron and water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for two hours. The tagine will take about two hours and 10 minutes to cook.

Add the cinnamon stick, thyme, apricots and coriander 20 minutes before the end of the cooking time (so around an hour and 50 minutes into cooking). Cover and continue to cook for the remainder of the cooking time (20 minutes).

Remove the thyme and cinnamon stick from the tagine. Garnish with the pomegranate seeds and serve with steamed couscous or rice.

n For more recipes and videos, visit simplybeefandlamb.co.uk