We love roasted leg of lamb. Gathering for Christmas in 2017, Mark’s brother Doug and his wife Allie joined us, bringing all the ingredients artfully arranged in a beautiful basket, making it feel like unwrapping a Christmas present.
After that lovely experience, I tested bone-in and compared it against boneless. The flavor was fantastic in each, but carving against the grain was much easier in the bone-less version. If the idea of roasting lamb makes you feel intimidated, don’t worry. We lay it on a bed of root vegetables, making it a one-dish meal similar to a beef roast. And yet, it feels a lot more elegant. It is our new family tradition!
Roasted Leg of Lamb Recipe
|WHAT YOU NEED||WHAT TO DO||WHY|
||Brine: Place the lamb in a 6-quart enameled cast iron Dutch oven and completely cover with salted water; soak for 1 hour. Pour off the brine, pat lamb dry with a paper towel, and set aside.||Cool saltwater can pit exposed metal. Brining helps remove the blood and excessive “lamby” flavor. Drying promotes browning.|
||Marinade: In a small bowl, whisk all together. Place lamb fat side down on the work surface and open the folds. Massage marinade over all surfaces, reserving 3 tablespoons for the vegetables.||Regular olive oil is sufficient here; heat destroys and wastes the subtle flavors of expensive extra-virgin.|
||Lamb: Fold the lamb back into its original shape. With the seam side down, cross (or spiral) twine to even up the bundle. Run from end to end to tighten and secure the ends. With a sharp paring knife, make a deep slit through the fat; insert a garlic sliver and rosemary sprig. Repeat every 2 inches. Place oven rack in lowest position; preheat to 300°F Convection (verify with an oven thermometer). Meanwhile…||Binding produces a tidy, attractive, evenly cooked leg of lamb. An oven set low for slow roasting preserves attractive reddish pigmentation (myoglobin). Internal oven thermostats are often improperly calibrated.|
||Wipe out the Dutch oven; lay down a bed of rosemary sprigs, followed by vegetables rubbed with reserved marinade. Insert a barbecue thermometer probe (long probe, long cord, digital display) through the lamb’s very center; position over the vegetables. Roast uncovered until beautifully browned and thermometer registers 130°F (~1 ½ hours). Remove from oven; cover with the lid and rest just until thermometer registers 140°F (medium-rare), 10-15 minutes. Remove string, carve against the grain, arrange on a serving platter with vegetables with pan juices poured over the top.||Vegetables act as a natural rack. Whole potatoes are more attractive than halved in this dish, and purple potatoes look awful. A barbecue thermometer takes the guesswork out of roasting meat. Roasting uncovered promotes a beautifully browned crust. USDA recommends 145°F for food safety, but we like 140°F. Resting improves color and increases moisture-holding capacity.|