The Spanish are justifiably proud of their lamb and early spring is without doubt the best time to enjoy it. The taste is sweeter and more refined at this time of year, before the hot weather arrives and the lambs start to suffer, like the rest of us, and sweat in the heat. The local Spanish breeds are small and sturdy animals and lend themselves perfectly to the long slow cooking favoured by the local restaurants throughout most of Spain, especially the provinces of Castilla-Len and Burgos. Cordero lechal, which is basically milk-fed lamb, is most commonly served in the form of “costillas” (ribs) or Palatillas (shoulders) and Piernas (whole legs). They are normally served in whole pieces, roasted over rosemary sticks and garlic cloves in a slow oven for a long period of time until tender. Many traditional, regional recipes exist and one of the most popular is “Cordero a la Segoviana”. A whole side of young lamb is rubbed with salt and oregano. Placed in a large “cazuela” (earthenware dish) and smothered in pork fat. Crushed garlic cloves, chopped onions and parsley are added together with a small glass of water, another of white wine and a couple of crushed peppercorns then marinated for 2-3 hours before being roasted in a moderate oven for 1-2 hours. “Cordero a la Sevillana” is diced lamb fried with mushrooms, garlic and parsley before being finished with white wine and dry sherry. One and my favourite lamb dishes is “cordero a la riojana”. This is a delicious warming stew with potatoes, red peppers, chorizo sausage and white wine from the rioja wine region. ”Cordero al chilindron”, also from the Rioja and Aragon regions of the north is flavoured with garlic and a dried red pepper called ”Choricero” that needs to be first, soaked in water for a few hours so that the pulp can be scraped away from the skin. Choricero pepper puree can be bought in small jars in all Spanish supermarkets making it easy to use but if you can't find them use a couple of teaspoons of paprika. In the following lamb recipe, prime fillets or tender loins are sealed in a hot pan and coated with a spicy, north African flavoured crust, but you could also create a stunning affect using whole legs or shoulders just by coating the joint with the crust when the lamb is almost cooked and returning it to the oven for 8–10 minutes. Try serving your lamb with one or two of these basic Mediterranean sauces. They are incredibly easy to make and can liven up all manner of grilled meats and fish.