FOR those of us living in the countryside, a drive anywhere near the hills will soon reveal the first lambs frolicking beside their mothers. There is no better sight to lift my heart. Spring lamb – so cute and (apologies to vegetarians) and so tasty.

In Rome, at Easter, very young lamb is served on all restaurant menus. It is spectacularly delicious.

It goes without saying that Scottish lamb is the best. The spring lamb, typically less than three months old, will not reach our butcher shops for a few months yet. The lamb on sale now will be older, 9-12 months old, with fuller, richer flavour. It is not yet classed as mutton, which is older yet, sold up to 3 years old and has a far more gamey, stronger flavour.

The lamb we buy now benefits from longer slow cooking with fuller flavours added to complement its taste. It is perfect for stews and curries, but I like this slow roasting recipe which makes for a rich, satisfying meal.

Roasted lamb chops with fennel and lemon

Pre-heat oven gas 200c/gas 6

8 single loin lamb chops

2 cloves garlic

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

Extra virgin olive oil

4-6 floury potatoes, Maris Piper, Desiree

1 red onion

1 bulb fennel

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

Zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon

200ml dry white wine

Sea salt and black pepper

Stud the chops with a few slithers of garlic and season them well. Drizzle with olive oil.

Peel the potatoes and cut into 4-5 cm pieces. Put the potatoes in a bowl with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss them in the oil so that they are well coated.

Cut the onion into eighths, you can leave the skin on.

Remove the core and tough outer leaves from the fennel bulb and cut into rough pieces, keeping aside the fennel fronds to decorate later.

Throw everything into a heavy bottomed roasting tin and scatter with a teaspoon or so of fennel seeds.

Add the zest and juice of an unwaxed lemon.

Use your hands to toss everything together so that everything is well coated with the oil.

Roast in the oven for 20 minutes.

Check the roasting tray and turn everything around so that all sides of the lamb and potatoes get well roasted.

Splash the white wine across everything and finish roasting for another 10-15 minutes or so.

Serve all together, decorated with the fennel fronds.

The roast fennel and red onion add a delicious jam-like accompaniment that adds to the flavour of the lamb and the crispy potatoes speak for themselves.