Video: Tender, melt-in-your-mouth lamb
Recipe: Roasted leg of lamb
Butterflying the lamb gives you options you don't have with a bone. A good butcher will be happy to do this for you. Here, I've made a very flavorful stuffing from sun-dried tomatoes that looks great when you carve.
Normally, I don't see the point in mincing herbs, but rosemary is hard to eat. If it's a flavoring agent, you can just pull the woody sprigs out at the end, but if you want to eat it — and lamb loves rosemary — it has to be very finely chopped.
- For the stuffing:
- 1 1/2 cups large, plump sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted
- 1 teaspoon minced rosemary
- Leaves only from 3 small sprigs thyme
- 1 teaspoon dry Greek oregano
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 15 cloves from garlic confit (see recipe)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- About 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- For the lamb:
- 3 to 3 1/2 pound boneless leg of lamb, butterflied out flat, some of the fat trimmed away
- Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon garlic puree or 2-3 cloves garlic confit (see recipe)
- 3 large sprigs rosemary
- 3 tablespoons blended oil (90% canola/10% extra-virgin)
In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients for the stuffing and puree for 45 to 60 seconds, to a smooth, thick paste. Reserve about 2 tablespoons of the stuffing.
Lay the lamb out on a work surface with the fattier side down. Season generously with pepper and spread the stuffing over it in an even layer, pressing down into the crevasses. Drizzle with a little olive oil and roll the lamb up in a spiral, seasoning the fatty side with salt and pepper as you roll. Tie in 3 or 4 places crosswise and 1 or 2 places lengthwise. (Tip: Twist the string around itself 3 times instead of just once before you pull it tight, so it won't loosen as soon as you let go). Ideally, allow to sit on a rack, uncovered in the refrigerator overnight, to dry the surface well and develop all the Greek flavors in the piece.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a small roasting pan, whisk the reserved stuffing with the water, mustard and garlic puree. Add the rosemary sprigs and place a rack in the pan (the rack should not touch the liquid).
Again, season the lamb on all sides very generously with salt and pepper. In a large heavy skillet, warm the oil over medium-high heat. When it is very hot, sear the lamb well on all sides, using tongs and leaning the meat up against the sides of the pans to sear the thinner sides and cut ends. Transfer the lamb to the rack seam side up and roast for about 1 hour, basting every 15 minutes with the pan liquid. (When it's medium-rare at 140 degrees F, a skewer inserted at the thickest point of the meat should feel warm when pressed against your lower lip.)
Rest for about 15 minutes. Slice 1/4-inch thick pieces, drizzle with the pan sauce and finish with extra-virgin olive oil.
6 servings, or more family style
Recipe: Garlic confit and garlic puree
- 3 cups peeled garlic cloves
- About 2 cups blended oil (50% canola or safflower, and 50% extra-virgin, say), as needed
- 1 fresh bay leaf or 2 dried
- 8 to 10 sprigs fresh thyme
- Kosher salt and black peppercorns
For the confit: Put the garlic cloves in a heavy, covered braiser or Dutch oven. Add the bay leaf and thyme, about 1 tablespoon salt and 15 or 20 black peppercorns. Barely cover with oil.
Cover the pan and braise in oven at 300 degree F for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until pale golden and very tender. Cool to room temperature.
Transfer the garlic with all of the oil to a sterilized jar. Press a square of plastic wrap down directly into the surface of the oil. Place another square of plastic over the rim of the jar and top with the lid or a rubber band. With every use, replace the square of plastic that touches the oil and use a perfectly clean fork or tongs each time to prevent cross-contamination from other surfaces in your kitchen. As long as the garlic and garlic puree, below, are covered with just a little oil, they will last for at least 3 weeks in the refrigerator.
For the garlic puree: With a slotted spoon, transfer about 1 cup of the cloves from garlic confit to a food processor and puree. Film the top with confit oil and store in the refrigerator.
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