I made leg of lamb this evening, along with focaccia, a nice Caprese, and gratineed asparagus. Before you hit me up with marriage proposals, you gals should know that my romantic tendencies are positively bestial (and you thought this post’s title referred to dinner?!) And you guys should remember, that sort of thing is illegal in Bush’s America.
For me, the trick with leg of lamb is not the roast itself. That’s dead easy, as you’ll see in a moment. Rather, I have a hard time figuring out what to do with the leftovers. I’ll leave that post for another day. On with the roast!
Have your butcher bone the leg and tie up the meat to make a symmetric roast. Or marry a woman like Karen who knows how to bone a leg of lamb. I can’t do it. The damned thing looks too human.
Rub the lamb with the cut surface of a lemon, then sprinkle it with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Smother the roast with your favorite herb/spice mixture (more on this below), wrap it in cellophane, set it on a pan in case it leaks, and keep it in the refrigerator overnight.
Preheat the oven to 450F. Unwrap the roast and set it on a rack over a baking dish lined with foil. Shove a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the roast. When the oven is ready, put the roast in. Leave it at 450F for 15-20 min, then lower the oven temperature to 325F.
My five pound roast took about two hours to come up to temperature. For a medium rare roast, remove it from the oven when the internal temperature hits 130F. Allow it to rest for fifteen minutes. The internal temperature will rise another five to ten degrees. Slice and serve on warm plates.
The spice/herb mixture:
You can do whatever you like, of course, but I happen to think there’s a reason why rosemary, garlic, and lemon work their way into most recipes. Nevertheless, I like to jazz things up and make them my own. Here’s what I did:
1/2 bunch of Italian parsley
fresh rosemary, stripped from the stems, about 2-3 heaping tablespoons
smaller amounts of fresh oregano, sage, and basil, about 1 tablespoon each
freshly ground black pepper
One teaspoon each of ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, and dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne
juice of one lemon
three large garlic cloves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Combine ingredients in a food processor’s work bowl, or a blender, and blend until the mixture is reasonably smooth. It’s okay if it is a little chunky — you don’t have to reduce it to a paste. Using a spoon, smear the mixture all over your roast, and wrap the meat well with cellophane.
Of all those additional spices, I think I could taste the mustard and cayenne. The turmeric and coriander didn’t seem to add much, and I suspect if I want to taste the cumin, I had better add more next time.