The roast leg of lamb makes a delectable main perfect for holiday feast. It may sound like a daring task, but the truth is, it is surprisingly simple to prepare. The humble ingredients, such as garlic, rosemary and lemon zest add a very delicate flavour to this tender roast and the result will make your guests raving.
Last summer we took a stroll down the picturesque city of Chambly when an incredible smell (and then the picture) of a grilled lamb has allured us into trying this dish at the local Fourquet Fourchette restaurant. No doubt that grilling brings out the best in lamb, which is why, I have been planning to do the grilled leg of lamb at home ever since.
Except, of course, winter storm leaves me with the roasting option only. Anyways, what can be better than a gorgeous roast leg of lamb on a New Year’s Eve in the weather like this? Prime rib you will say, but I am already doing lamb and I am having a good time.
Here we are doing our lamb in two simple steps: rubbing with rosemary/garlic/lemon paste and then roasting it till perfection. The most important thing is to NOT overcook it, so check the thermometer for desired doneness.
The oven temperature is designed to first sear the leg at 400F and then roast it slowly at 325F without burning. Keep some water in the roasting pan to prevent the drippings from burning and smoking up your kitchen. It will also help to collect quality juices to be used for the sauce. It is also imperative to allow the cooked leg to stand before carving to make it juicy and tender, so please don’t rush with the carving.
The choice of roasted veggies to serve with the leg of lamb is unlimited and, bien sûr, a bottle of a robust Saint–Émilion, peppery Merlot or red Rioja is a very welcome addition to this main. Champagne was only an apéritif in this case, but you might as well enjoy it throught the meal.
ROSEMARY & GARLIC LEG OF LAMB
1 leg of lamb, bone in (6 to 8 pounds)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
8 cloves garlic
1/3 cup fresh rosemary leaves
zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 cup water for the roasting pan
few extra garlic cloves and rosemary springs for the slits and pan
Season meat with salt and pepper. Combine olive oil, white wine, 6 cloves of garlic, rosemary leaves and lemon zest in a food processor and mix to create a paste. Rub the leg of lamb with this paste using your hands, place in a plastic bag and keep in the refrigerator for a few hours.
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Remove the leg from the refrigerator, place it on a rack in a shallow pan. Slice 12 to 14 slits in a grill pattern using a sharp paring knife and insert 2 thinly sliced garlic cloves and fresh rosemary leaves into them. Add some water and springs of rosemary to the pan. Roast at 400 degrees F for the first 30 minutes. Then reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F and keep roasting for about one hour longer until the meat thermometer registers 130-135F (for rare) or 145-150F (for medium). Make sure that the meat thermometer does not touch the bone. Add some water to the pan if necessary during cooking. Allow to stand for about 10-15 minutes before carving. Serve with the pan juices and your choice of roasted veggies.