Lamb is one of those meats where you either love it or hate it because of the taste profile (it can be gamey, heavy, and has a very unique after-taste!). I, for one, LOVE it, and love making it in my kitchen, especially because there are so many things one can do with leftover lamb (gyros, salads topped with roast lamb, lamb sandwiches, you name it!). This recipe is definitely not a weeknight meal idea since it requires quite a bit of cooking time, but this is a fabulous crowd-pleaser and main attraction for a dinner party you might throw. This is sure to wow your guests!
Yields: 4-6 servings
1 leg of lamb, bone in (about 3.5 pounds)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
12-15 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons thyme
2 tablespoons paprika
4 tablespoon Kosher salt
3 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
Make a paste out of the extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, parsley, thyme, paprika, pepper and Kosher salt. Make tiny slits into the surface of the roast, inserting the paste into these slits. Rub the remaining paste over the rest of the roast. Cover the leg of lamb or place in plastic bag and let it marinate in the fridge for 24 hours (if you don’t have this much time, give the lamb at least an hour or two to marinate in the fridge, allowing it to absorb the flavors before roasting).
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F, and cover your roasting pan with a thick sheet of aluminum foil to collect the drippings. Insert an oven-safe meat thermometer into the thickest part of the roast, not touching the bone if your roast is bone-in. Lay the leg of lamb on a well greased roasting rack that fits in the pan. There should be space between the roast and the pan to allow the drippings to collect.
Roast lamb in your preheated oven for approximately 4 hours (the name of this game is LOW AND SLOW!), flipping it over after 2 hours so that it cooks evenly. Now change your oven to the ‘broil’ mode (500 degrees F) and give each side of the roast 5-7 minutes on this setting to allow a nice crust to form. (Alternatively, you can move this roast to a hot grill to get a nice sear on it to finish the dish!)
Take it out of the oven carefully and cover with aluminum foil and let it rest for 20 minutes. (I like my lamb medium rare, at an internal temperature of ~130 degrees F after resting). Make sure you let the lamb rest! If you carve it too early, all the lovely juices will pour out of the meat and you will end up with tough, dry meat.
[Note: if you don’t have 4 hours, you can also follow this timeline for cooking it: Roast at 425°F for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 300°F and roast an additional 45 minutes for a 3.5 pound roast, or about 10-12 minutes per pound for your specific roast. If you are cooking a roast bone-in, the bone will act as an insulator and will require a longer cooking time than a boneless roast.]
While you allow the roast to rest, scrape up the drippings from your aluminum foil and pan and serve as is to accompany the lamb or make a gravy out of it!
Display your beautiful leg of lamb roast and carve! If you feel like the lamb needs a bit more salt, don’t be afraid to sprinkle a little on top or pair with a good-quality balsamic vinegar to finish the dish! 🙂
Vegetables to consider to accompany this dish: baby potatoes, asparagus, creamed spinach, and even mashed potatoes are lovely friends of this recipe.
Wine Pairing: A full-bodied red wine like a Cabernet or Pinot Noir will be fabulous