Growing up, lamb was always synonymous with special occasions in my household. The aroma of lamb roasting in the oven never fails to excite me. This one-pot recipe, which features seasoned lamb roasted with potatoes, is emblematic of my childhood. The addition of a lemony broth infuses the potatoes with tons of flavor, giving them a soft and velvety texture. If you've ever enjoyed lemon potatoes at a Greek restaurant, this is the method they use, and it's my favorite way to prepare potatoes.
Boneless leg of lamb is seasoned with fresh rosemary, dried oregano, lemon zest and a generous amount of garlic — typical seasonings for Greek lamb. The garlic and herbs are sautéed in olive oil for a few minutes to mellow the garlic and blend the flavors before the delicate lemon zest is stirred in. This seasoning paste is generously applied all over the leg of lamb, which is then trussed and placed atop the potatoes.
While the lamb is cooking, there's plenty of time to whip up the tzatziki, also known as cucumber yogurt sauce. The sauce's creamy, refreshing and tangy flavors complement both the lamb and potatoes beautifully. In our house, we usually add dill to our tzatziki. But for this recipe, I used mint, another common herb used in tzatziki, because it’s a classic pairing with lamb and helps balance out its richness. Using mini seedless cucumbers is great here because you don't need to peel or deseed them before grating, which makes prepping the sauce much easier.
Technique Tip: The lamb can be seasoned and tied up a day ahead of cooking and the tzatziki can be prepared up to two days in advance.
Swap Option: If you can’t find mini cucumbers, then substitute with an English cucumber. The English cucumber can be grated without peeling or deseeding too. The recipe calls for baby gold potatoes, but baby red potatoes or a combo of the two will work just as well.
Preheat the oven to 450 F with the oven rack set to the lowest position. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, rosemary and oregano, and cook stirring occasionally, until garlic is softened, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in lemon zest, salt and pepper.2.
Pat lamb dry and open up with the inside facing up. Spread 3/4 of the seasoning paste inside the lamb, roll it up tightly and using butcher’s twine, tie lamb crosswise in 1/2-inch intervals and once lengthwise. Season outside with remaining seasoning paste.3.
In a large roasting pan, toss potatoes with olive oil, oregano, rosemary, salt and pepper. Nestle lamb on top of the potatoes and cook until lamb starts to brown, about 30 minutes.4.
Add chicken broth and lemon juice to the pan. Shake the pan gently to mix the lemon juice into the broth and return pan to oven. Reduce heat to 350 F and cook until lamb registers 120 F for medium-rare, 130 F for medium or 140 F for medium-well, 40 to 50 minutes.5.
While the lamb is cooking, prepare the tzatziki. In a large bowl, add all ingredients and stir well to combine. Cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve the lamb.6.
Transfer lamb to a cutting board. While the lamb rests, return potatoes to the oven and continue cooking until potatoes are tender and browned in spots, and liquid has reduced by about half, about 20 minutes. Remove twine from lamb and slice as desired. Serve lamb with roasted potatoes and tzatziki on the side.