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Leg of Lamb


Ron Johnson
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This upcoming Saturday I'm making a feast for ten people and for the main course I'm serving leg of lamb. I've never made leg of lamb before and I'm overwhelmed by the varying recipes I've found in all my cookbooks. Judy Rogers has you salt a lamb leg 3 days early; Suzanne Goin has you roll it around chorizo sausage and The Gourmet Cookbook has you simply roast it over tomatoes and garlic. Because I have ten people coming over and because I want this to wow them all, I'm interested in what techniques you eGulleters think are fool proof and guaranteed to wow. Thanks in advance for your help!

The Amateur Gourmet

www.amateurgourmet.com

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Are you getting the full leg? Shank 1/2? Leg 1/2? It seems like a 1/2 leg won't be enough for 10 people unless your planning to serve other stuff.

Whole legs are tough because of the variation in meat throughout the entire leg. The bottom, shank 1/2 benifits most from slow braising or roasting while the top half is best grilled. About the best compromise would be spit roasting if you have a spit or barbeque.

If you have the Leg 1/2, I would debone & butterfly it, marinate it in something overnight and then stuff it, tie it and roast it.

PS: I am a guy.

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I like to butterfly it and marinate it in this:

small jar of grainy mustard

1 jar full of soy sauce

1 jar full of peanut oil

Grill.........not too long !

so incredible, and I dislike mustard.

:wub:

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Lamb is my favorite meat & I've been cooking legs for many years. Here's a pretty much fool proof method that always wows even the non-lamb lovers.

Start in the morning of the day you're going to serve the lamb.

1) read the eGullet culinary institute course on slow cooking meats.

2) Debone the leg end, but leave the shank end as is. This helps both the cooking & the carving.

3) Salt, pepper, a little minced garlic & a little rubbed rosemany should be placed in the boned cavity. Then tie the boned portion back togetherr with kitchen string.

4) cut 3-5 slashes about 1/2 inch deep across the outside leg end on a diagonal. In each slash place an salted tinned anchovy. (Never fear, they add a great flavor & your guests can have a great time guessing, mostly wrongly, what your secret magic ingredient is.) Add a generous amount of freshly ground pepper & some more rubbed rosemary leaves. NO salt as the anchovies take care of that.

5) Here's the only tricky part. Pre-heat an oven to 425 F. Put the lamb in for about 20 minutes to brown. Take the lamb out of the hot oven & place it in an oven at 160 F. The tricky part is getting both temperatures. If you have 2 ovens then you're in great shape. If not then just let the browned lamb rest while you get the oven temperature down to 160 F. DO NOT leave the lamb in while the oven cools down; it will cook too fast.

6) Roast at 160 F for 7 hours. Once you reach 61/2 hours timing is no longer important. Anothe hour or even more will be Ok. This makes life much easier when it comes to bringing the meal together.

7) Let the lamb rest out of the oven for 15-20 minutes before carving.

As an option (but one your guests will love) make a gravy. Carefully pour off most of the fat, but not all, from the roasting tin. Then put the roasting tin over high heat on the stove. Deglaze with a good dollop of red wine. Make sure you scrape all the bits off the sides & bottom. Let boil until the wine is reduced to 1/3 of its original volume. Take the tin off heat & as soon as it quits boiling add lots (8-12 oz) of heavy (35%) cream. Back on heat stirring constantly. Reduce to about 2/3 rds of original volume. Pour gravy into a sauce boat & enjoy.

Lamb done this way is absolutely delicious & has the great advantage of simplicity.

Don't know what you're serving with it, but a couple of recommendations are:

Roast ratatouille & roast potatoes cooked in duck fat with Herbs de Province & lots of sea salt.

STORY: Last time I served this & there were 10 of us; the guests at one end of the table used up most of the gravy. (they'd had it before) not realizing that that was all there was for everybody. Fortunately Tom who is a professional chef was there. He & my wife went back to the kitchen & whipped up more gravy using olive oil, red wine, lamb stock cubes, some leg trimmings & more cream. It was amazingly good all things considered & our guilty guests were saved. Everybody wanted to try the 'concoction', but the guilty paries weren't allowed. Great party!

edited for typos. wish I was better at it or the eGullet had a spell checker.

Edited by Dave Hatfield (log)
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If your going to make a 7 hour leg, you might as well make some demi to go with it. Ask your butcher for any lamb bones of offcuts while he debones the whole leg for you. Roast those at 425 with the lamb and leave them in while the oven cools to 160. Then, just simmer them with some mirepoix, rosemary, bayleaves, strain and simmer down. It should be done right on the 7 hour mark.

Another tip with oven browning, since the lamb is only in there for 20 minutes, you need to make absolutely sure the lamb is bone dry on the surface, otherwise it will steam and not brown. This can be hard if your marinating it so one method I've had a bit of success with is to put it in for 1 hour at 160 which will dry the outside out, take it out, ramp it up to 450, brown for 20 minutes, take it out, bring it back down to 160 and cook for another 5 hours. It's slightly more complicated but it works very well.

PS: I am a guy.

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All the above are great recipes and advice. First decision is that how do you want the lamb cooked:

The 7 hour slow cooking would give you well done but very tender melt in your mouth lamb. If you want lamb that is more medium, you would probably either roast or grill it.

The second decision is if you want to roast or grill it. how complicated you want the cooking to be. If you have not work with a leg of lamb and you want it boneless to stuff and roll or butterflied and grilled, you should definitely have your butcher bone it for you. For 10 people, I would get a very large leg. There are many good recipes for marinating a butterflied leg or stuffing/rolling/tying.

An easy, simple and impressive way to cook a leg of lamb is to roast it whole with the bone. Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking has a great recipe for this with simple sauce variations. Present it whole and carve it at the table. Her carving method is very easy. Here is a summary of her recipe:

Rub the leg with a mixture of melted butter and oil. Season it with salt and pepper. Put the leg on a roasting rack over a roasting pan.

Roast in a preheated 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes, basting with the melted fat on the bottom of the pan every 5 minutes. This will sear the meat.

Roughly cut 1 carrot and 1 onion into large chunks. Put them in the bottom of the roasting pan with a few cloves of garlic.

TURN the oven down to 350 degree and continue roasting until the desired doneness. NO further basting is neccesary. These are approximate TOTAL cooking times:

1 hour for medium rare, 125-130 degree

1 1/4 hour for medium (pink) 135-140 degree

another 15 minutes more for well done.

Let lamb rest for about 15 minutes before carving.

While the lamb is resting, make a sauce by pouring the vegetables, etc. through a sieve into a saucepan; skim off the fat; deglaze the pan with wine and brown stock (I use a good chicken stock or broth with white wine if I am lazy). Add this to the saucepan. Reduce, season and mount sauce with a little butter. Couple of easy sauce variations: add roasted garlic or whisk in mustard (omit the wine).

Carve the lamb the French way by holding the shank end, stand the lamb up on a carving board, and carve thin slices downward. Just slice around the hip bone and you will eventually left with just the leg bones.

By keeping the lamb simple, you can make the side dishes more elaborate. A gratin of zucchini, eggplants and tomatoes is good. And if you want a starch, smashed potato. Or ratatouille and potato gratin.

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I'd also suggest you look over some of the many previous threads we've had on eGullet. There are enough excellent ideas there to fill a cookbook:

Previous eGullet threads about lamb

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Lamb is very forgiving

The best way is the 7 hour slow cook. You will get amazingly tender, juicy and flavoursome meat. Aim for 140F internal temperature. No need to brown but you can before or after (blowtorch) as you please.

Otherwise throw it in a hot oven. In one hour it will be rare, two hours well done, and three hours charred.

Mint sauce is essential

An old fashioned but delicious way, especially for older lamb (hoggets or mutton) is to boil it (just simmer) for several hours, then serve with caper sauce

IF its

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I love Julia Child's marinade for lamb, a combo of olive oil, garlic, dijon mustard, rosemary, and soy sauce, of all things. Myself, unless I'm doing the long, slow cook, I prefer a butterflied leg of lamb. It cooks more quickly and evenly. Be sure to let it rest well before slicing. Hard to go wrong with lamb for a crowd.

I second the ratatouille suggestion as a side. this time of year, with garden fresh veggies, it doesn't get any better. It's even better a day ahead of time, which is nice when cooking for a crowd. I like to throw in a handful of fresh basil before serving. Maybe not traditional, but so good.


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Leg of lamb was the first thing I ever learned to cook for small dinner parties, and it's still my number one standby.

This is how I do it: Grilled Leg of Lamb

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I love Julia Child's marinade for lamb, a combo of olive oil, garlic, dijon mustard, rosemary, and soy sauce, of all things.  Myself, unless I'm doing the long, slow cook, I prefer a butterflied leg of lamb. It cooks more quickly and evenly. Be sure to let it rest well before slicing. Hard to go wrong with lamb for a crowd.

I second the ratatouille suggestion as a side.  this time of year, with garden fresh veggies, it doesn't get any better. It's even better a day ahead of time, which is nice when cooking for a crowd. I like to throw in a handful of fresh basil before serving. Maybe not traditional, but so good.

Birds of a feather , so to speak. I'm with you on both counts.

After the 7 hour version butterflied on the BBQ with Julia's marinade is a favorite. My only complaint is that you don't get the dripping for gravy on the BBQ. That's why I do it in the oven using 'conventional' heat a lot of the time.

Nice thing about the ratatouille is that it's good at any temperature so your timing becomes easy. This time of year I use: shallots, zucchini (courgettes), cherry tomatoes, green & yellow peppers, eggplant (aubergine) & garlic. Plus as you point out fresh basil at the end. All smeared with some good olive oil, S&P and a touch of herbs de provence.

I've enjoyed this thread so much that I think I'll do leg of lamb, etc this coming weekend as well. We have kids & grandkids coming so it will be a perfect meal for them. Rustic apricot tart for dessert. (see my blog below for the recipe)

Have to think of a good appetizer. ??? Suggestions?

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Leg of Lamb Marinaded with Mexican Spices

Ingredients

1 leg of lamb, butterflied and trimmed of fat

1 1/2 Tbl cumin seeds

3 Tbl black peppercorns

3 Tbl dried Mexican oregano

3 Tbl dried thyme

1/2 tsp sea salt

2 chipolte chiles

3 Tbl olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Saute cumin seeds, peppercorns, oregano, thyme and salt in a small skillet until it starts to smoke. Put in coffee grinder with chipolte and grind.

2. Rub lamb with olive oil then rub in spice mixture. Allow to marinade 1/2 hour.

3. Roast over mesquite for 1 1/4 hour at 325o. Then flash grill it for 5 minutes on each side. Serve with Chipolte Demi-Glace sauce.

Chipolte Demi-Glace

1 Tbl Chipolte Oil

1 cup demi-glace (half lamb, half veal)

1/4 cup port

Directions

4. Add oil demi-glace. Bring to a boil, then add port. Bring back to a boil and cook until thickened.

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Thanks everyone for all your help. I think I'm going ot go this slow-cooked 7 hour route. I'm excited---I bet it's going to be awesome.

Do you not recommend rubbing mustard all over it for the 7 hour route? Someone once told me you should do that with a leg of lamb.

Also, with ratatouille (sp?) do you serve it all mushed up or is it more lightly chopped? Anyone have a favorite recipe? Does it need to be hot?

Thanks!

Adam

The Amateur Gourmet

www.amateurgourmet.com

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Do you not recommend rubbing mustard all over it for the 7 hour route?  Someone once told me you should do that with a leg of lamb.

You can do the mustard if you like with 7 hour. Use the Julia Child marinade mentioned in one of the posts. (Dijon mustard, soy sauce, S&P, rosemary leaves, garlic.) My personal preference for 7 hour is the simple anchoy & rosemary, but the JC marinade will be great.

Also, with ratatouille (sp?) do you serve it all mushed up or is it more lightly chopped?  Anyone have a favorite recipe?  Does it need to be hot?

Lightly chopped. Think of each morsel as a forkfull. See my previous post for a list of veggies, but feel free to add, subsract or change depensding upon what looks good in the market. The olive oil coating. (just pour some oil on the cut up veggies in a bowl & mix well with your hands.) is important. A hot oven 375 -400F is best. Add the chopped basil about 10 minutes from the end of cooking. Takes about 40 minutes. Does not need to be served hot. Room temperature or above is fine.

Good luck Yank

PS: We all expect a full report on your success!

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Hey, not sure if anyone's still reading this thread but I have a question: if I rub the Julia Child marinade on the lamb leg the night before, should I add salt to the mix? The marinade has only 2 Tbs of soy sauce, otherwise it's just mustard and ginger and something else but no salt. Shouldn't I salt it along with that? Any thoughts?

Thanks!

The Amateur Gourmet

www.amateurgourmet.com

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Hey, not sure if anyone's still reading this thread but I have a question: if I rub the Julia Child marinade on the lamb leg the night before, should I add salt to the mix?  The marinade has only 2 Tbs of soy sauce, otherwise it's just mustard and ginger and something else but no salt.  Shouldn't I salt it along with that?  Any thoughts?

Thanks!

No salt. Add more soy sauce for saltiness. I also add lots of rubbed rosemary & minced garlic.

By the way on the ratatouille I forgot to say that it should be cooked on a cookie sheet.Just stred out all of the chopped ingredients in a single layer. You don't want it to steam which is what will happen in a deeper pan. I'd think at least 2 cookie sheets worth for 10 people.

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  • 3 months later...
I have not been able to find Andy Lynes eGCI course on slow cooking meats. I was hoping to read about the 7-hour method for lamb. Am I going blind or has it been removed from the site?

Thanks a lot.

If I've done it right here is the link to Andy's course.

Scroll down within the post for the Lamb recipe.

Or go back up this thread to page 2 or 3 where I paraphrase his technique.

Good luck!

Edited by Dave Hatfield (log)
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Also, with ratatouille (sp?) do you serve it all mushed up or is it more lightly chopped?  Anyone have a favorite recipe?  Does it need to be hot?

Great thread. I haven't gone through it all, but wanted to chime in with my $0.02 on ratatouille.

To me, ratatouille is about maintaining the distinctiveness and integrity of each ingredient, to make a final medley of discreet, delightfully contrasting textures, colors and flavors. Therefore, I saute onion until only lightly golden, pull it out; zucchini, eggplant, peppers, all get par pan-roasted separately, then pulled. I add a bit of garlic, herbs and S & P, the last few minutes of each vegetable's par-roast. I then add everything back with tomatoes, until they render up their moisture and allow the ratatouille only to meld, while not allowing the vegetables to give up their individuality.

Edited by paul o' vendange (log)

-Paul

 

Remplis ton verre vuide; Vuide ton verre plein. Je ne puis suffrir dans ta main...un verre ni vuide ni plein. ~ Rabelais

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Americans don't eat lamb.

:blink: What? That might be the most ridiculous generalization i've ever heard. I adore lamb in all forms. Granted, most cooking methods might stem from other culinary traditions, but then, doesn't that hold true for most american cooking?

bacon-- it's the fruit from a pig!

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Americans don't eat lamb.

:blink: What? That might be the most ridiculous generalization i've ever heard. I adore lamb in all forms. Granted, most cooking methods might stem from other culinary traditions, but then, doesn't that hold true for most american cooking?

It might not apply to you but it's a fairly good generalisation of the US. The average American eats 0.7lb of lamb as compared with 56.5lb per New Zealander.

PS: I am a guy.

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  • 4 months later...

Should this be made in a covered dish, or left uncovered in the oven?

Thanks.

Lamb is my favorite meat & I've been cooking legs for many years. Here's a pretty much fool proof method that always wows even the non-lamb lovers.

Start in the morning of the day you're going to serve the lamb.

1) read the eGullet culinary institute course on slow cooking meats.

2) Debone the leg end, but leave the shank end as is. This helps both the cooking & the carving.

3) Salt, pepper, a little minced garlic & a little rubbed rosemany should be placed in the boned cavity. Then tie the boned portion back togetherr with kitchen string.

4) cut 3-5 slashes about 1/2 inch deep across the outside leg end on a diagonal. In each slash place an salted tinned anchovy. (Never fear, they add a great flavor & your guests can have a great time guessing, mostly wrongly, what your secret magic ingredient is.) Add a generous amount of freshly ground pepper & some more rubbed rosemary leaves. NO salt as the anchovies take care of that.

5) Here's the only tricky part. Pre-heat an oven to 425 F. Put the lamb in for about 20 minutes to brown. Take the lamb out of the hot oven & place it in an oven at 160 F. The tricky part is getting both temperatures. If you have 2 ovens then you're in great shape. If not then just let the browned lamb rest while you get the oven temperature down to 160 F. DO NOT leave the lamb in while the oven cools down; it will cook too fast.

6) Roast at 160 F for 7 hours. Once you reach 61/2 hours timing is no longer important. Anothe hour or even more will be Ok. This makes life much easier when it comes to bringing the meal together.

7) Let the lamb rest out of the oven for 15-20 minutes before carving.

As an option (but one your guests will love) make a gravy. Carefully pour off most of the fat, but not all, from the roasting tin. Then put the roasting tin over high heat on the stove. Deglaze with a good dollop of red wine. Make sure you scrape all the bits off the sides & bottom. Let boil until the wine is reduced to 1/3 of its original volume. Take the tin off heat & as soon as it quits boiling add lots (8-12 oz) of heavy (35%) cream. Back on heat stirring constantly. Reduce to about 2/3 rds of original volume. Pour gravy into a sauce boat & enjoy.

Lamb done this way is absolutely delicious & has the great advantage of simplicity.

Don't know what you're serving with it, but a couple of recommendations are:

Roast ratatouille & roast potatoes cooked in duck fat with Herbs de Province & lots of sea salt.

STORY: Last time I served this & there were 10 of us; the guests at one end of the table used up most of the gravy. (they'd had it before) not realizing that that was all there was for everybody. Fortunately Tom who is a professional chef was there. He & my wife went back to the kitchen & whipped up more gravy using olive oil, red wine, lamb stock cubes, some leg trimmings & more cream. It was amazingly good all things considered & our guilty guests were saved. Everybody wanted to try the 'concoction', but the guilty paries weren't allowed. Great party!

edited for typos. wish I was better at it or the eGullet had a spell checker.

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  • 4 months later...

I did a variation on the 7 hour lamb using my offset smoker today.

Just used mustard, garlic, salt & pepper as a rub. The leg was NZ spring lamb that I picked up @ the halal market whilst buying other goodies on Thursday.

It was simply amazing. Melt in your mouth good. I kept the smoke chamber around 200 topside, let it go for most of the day and served with tahina sauce, pita.

Best gyros ever IMHO.

Honestly I'd never have thought to do that to lamb w/o having read this thread but I'm sure glad I did.

Edited by 6ppc (log)

Jon

--formerly known as 6ppc--

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