Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Roast Leg of Lamb

There are a million recipes for leg of lamb out there. I consulted quite a few and just came away confused. Different oven temperatures, different seasonings, different final internal temperatures, etc. Since I had two days to ponder this, I gradually came up with my own plan. Granted, it is a synthesis of several recipes, but, as is my wont, this is my way. It is extremely simple and extremely easy to prep.

I had a butterflied lamb leg (that just means boned out) from the sale bin at Safeway. It was 3 pounds, fairly small. If you prepare this dish with a larger piece of lamb, increase the quantity of ingredients proportionately. Too hard? For 3 lbs. use the amounts below. In parens, after each ingredient, I include a modified amount for, respectively, 4, 5, and 6 lbs. There, I've just made your life easier.

Roast Leg of Lamb
1 leg of lamb, butterflied (3-6 lbs.)
2 tbsp garlic, minced (2.5, 3, 3.5)
2 tbsp olive oil (2.5, 3, 3.5)
1 tsp dried rosemary, finely chopped (1.5, 2, 2.5)
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Lay the lamb out on your cutting board, fat side down. Mix garlic, olive oil, black pepper and rosemary in a small bowl. Smear half of the mixture over the lamb, poking it into all crevasses and crannies. Season liberally with salt. Fold the lamb in half, fat side out. Tie with kitchen string approximately every inch so that you have a roll shape.

Make slits in the fat without cutting into the meat. Smear the remaining mix all over the outside and then add a liberal amount of salt.

Place on a rack over a roasting pan. (Line it with foil for easier cleanup). If you have one, insert an electronic temperature probe into the middle of the roast. Set the target temperature to 125 degrees. Place the roast, uncovered, into the oven with the rack at a level where the meat will be as close as possible to the very center of the oven.

Go watch television and drink your martini until the probe signals you. If you are using an instant-read thermometer, start checking the internal temp after 50 minutes. My 3 pound roast took about 65 minutes to get to 125 degrees. When you're at 125, increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees and reset your probe to 135 degrees. When that temp is achieved, remove the roast and cover tightly with foil. Allow to stand for 10-15 minutes. If using a manual thermometer, just roast at 400 for 10 minutes and get it out.

Make a second martini. When you're ready to eat, snip the strings and remove. Slice the lamb crosswise into 1/2" slices. Prepare to enter culinary heaven.

My guess would be that, for each pound of meat over 3 lbs, the cooking time will increase by 5-10 minutes. Remember: you can always cook the meat longer, but if you overdo it, you'll never be able to go back.

One addition to this recipe that I made was to toss about a pound of small red potatoes into the roasting pan with the lamb. After I removed the lamb from the oven, I tossed the potatoes in the pan drippings and left them in the oven with the temperature reduced to 170 degrees (the lowest setting we can get) and left them in the oven with the door ajar until dinner time.

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