On a whim, I picked up a semi-boneless leg of lamb yesterday, and while I’ve contemplated the offerings on allrecipes.com I wanted to query the collective wisdom of Dopers as well.
What should I know? What’s the tastiest way to prepare it? I love lamb chops but I didn’t think a quick grilling would be appropriate for this muscle even if I did slice it into steaks, so I assume I’d be oven-roasting it.
Alton Brown’s recipe on Food Network (from his Good Eats show) is hard to beat. The major components are mustard, garlic and rosemary, smeared inside and out. I think he calls for mint, which I leave out because I don’t actually think mint and lamb go well together. Also, while the recipe can be done in an oven, it really makes a difference to put it on the grill.
180 (350?) degrees for 25min/lb. But I always check with a meat thermometer to make sure it is done. I put small onions in the pan as well. An hour before the end, add carrots (a friend adds caulifower and broccoli too).
Roast potatoes at the same time, but in a different pan. I peel them, cut them, roll them in oil and microwave for a few minutes before cooking them for an hour or less but you can skip the microwave step and put them in the oven when you put the lamb in.
Rubs and extra stuff never seem that worth it to me.
I do a different take and roast pretty slowly in the oven. Another twist is mine comes frozen. Since I’m a lazy cook, I just roast it from frozen. I do olive oil and a bunch of sea salt and fresh ground pepper (I use tri-color, it’s a little milder), and roast at 225F for an hour per pound, then up at 450F for a bit of a sear for 15 minutes at the end. Also - directly on the middle oven rack with a heavy baking sheet on the rack directly underneath. Don’t know how long to do it with an unfrozen leg. I’ve done this the last three years for Christmas and it turns out divine.
I love slow-roasted leg of lamb too. Jamie Oliver’s technique works very well, but, like AndrewL I like to poke slits all over and stick rosemary, garlic and sage into the holes, rather than the herb paste he uses here. Don’t forget to make gravy with the drippings, or roast potatoes in them, and serve with proper mint sauce (see link).
If it’s too hot to turn the oven on, and you have good control over your grill’s temperatures, you can use this technique outdoors too. Just make sure you’re cooking over indirect heat, e.g., turn off the burners directly under the lamb, and keep the lid closed.
But I cook it differently. I set up a two-zone fire on my outdoor grill, and cook it on the cool side (about 225°F/107°C) until the internal temperature is 115°F/46°C, then I finish it on the hot side to brown the exterior. It also works indoors, but you lose the smokiness you get from charcoal (and wood, if you use it). Just finish it in a cast iron pan, cooking until the meat has an internal temperature of 135°F/57°C. Since learning this reverse-sear method, I cook all my roasts and thick cuts this way.
We make a mixture (assume 6 lb leg of lamb):
1/2 cup brown mustard, 2 TBs soy sauce, 1 clove mashed garlic, 1 tsp ground thyme, 1/4 tsp ginger. Then mix in, drop by drop, 2 TB olive oil to make a mayo-textured sauce. Paint the lamb with the sauce, put on rack, and put in refrig for a few hours.
Preheat oven to 450F, then reduce heat to 350 and cook lamb (about 20 mins per pound, around 1 - 1.5 hrs for medium rare.
In my experience, it’s not that rare. Lots of people I know don’t like mint in savory applications. I know, for me, it took me awhile to grok the meat + mint pairing, because I did not grow up with those culinary associations. Here, if we did lamb, rosemary was the typical herb pairing. (And, as far as I know, mint jelly isn’t really a thing here in the US. At least I’ve never heard of anyone in my circle using it.)
Then again, I never heard of pork chops & apple sauce until I saw it in an episode of The Simpsons or something.
For a less gamey result be sure to remove the gland. Roast garlic cloves in the oven for 30 minutes or so until tender enough to mash with a fork. Make a paste of the garlic with olive oil and rosemary and smear all over and then spit roast it on a rotisserie.
For sauce make a reduction of tawny port and veal stock including garlic, shallot, peppercorns, and a bouquet garni of rosemary, thyme, parsley, bay laurel and whatever else you might have. Start the reduction first as it can take up to four hours. (Mint with lamb… eeyuck.)
It’s funny you say that… when people serve applesauce with pork, I enjoy eating the applesauce and the pork, but I go to great lengths to ensure that they never touch. They don’t go together for me. The one exception was a very reduced and caramel-y apple compote someone once did with a smoked pork loin - more like pie filling than apple sauce. That was the best pairing I’ve ever tried and I still thought they were better separately.
I’m also not a fan of cranberry sauce on turkey. My wife makes a truly delicious cranberry sauce from scratch. It’s great on a slice of toast. But - like all cranberry sauces - it should never be allowed to touch the meat.
And, yes, before anyone goes there: pineapple and cherries go with ham only to the extent that I might put them on the ice cream for dessert.
But surely lemon and fish? No! What the hell is wrong with you people?! Give me the lemon wedges and I’ll enjoy them in my glass of ice water.
Anyway, at least I have some support on the lamb and mint thing from lukeinva.
I really like the taste of lamb. I don’t care for the taste being altered with rosemary, garlic, ginger, etc., or God forbid mint f*cking jelly. Just roast it. Salt and pepper are acceptable. And it should be medium rare. Yum!