Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Roast Leg of Lamb for Upcoming Easter and Passover Celebrations

Spring is the time of year when many families feast together on a special meal to celebrate Easter, Passover, and the re-birth of the earth. It is a glorious time of year, isn't it? Full of visions of little chicks (coming to our farm soon - what about yours?), blooming tulips and daffodils, green grass growing, and little lambs cavorting through lush green pastures? Everything points to renewal and new things. 

It is also the most popular time for families to share a leg of lamb at their holiday table. I guess our family is different than most - we eat lamb all the time but heck, we live on a sheep farm. Of course we do. So today I am suggesting that perhaps you try a leg of lamb for your holiday feast. I know many of you have never cooked a proper lamb leg roast so I've put together a recipe for you to follow easily. 

There has been a bit of a stumbling block for me and this recipe. Have you ever tried to photograph a hunk of meat on a platter? It isn't easy. All those gorgeous magazine shots? I'm hear to tell you it is much harder than you may think. On Sunday afternoon, I cooked up a half leg for our dinner but did it early in the day when I would still have light to photograph it. Here's what I got....

Half Leg of lamb from above
And here is another one.....

Half Leg of Lamb from the side

And another......

Half Leg of lamb cropped
Julia says it looks like a pile of dirt on a platter. Oh well. It sure did taste good. Which photo do you like best? No. 1, 2 or 3?

You can print out my recipe here and use it to guide you cook your holiday feast - Roast Leg of Lamb. If you are local, we have plenty of legs and half legs available. 

Roast Leg of Lamb

Thaw the leg in the refrigerator. Depending on the size of the leg, allow 1 day for half leg to thaw and 2 days for whole leg to thaw. Let meat come to room temperature before roasting.
Invest in an instant read meat thermometer in order to cook the leg properly.
It is not necessary to do any special treatment to the leg but if you want, this mustard coating is nice.

Mustard/Garlic/Herb Coating
1 cup dijon mustard
1 head roasted garlic mashed puree (To roast a garlic head, place entire head in tin foil with a little olive oil. Bake at 375 until soft and squishy at least 30 minutes. Remove from skins and mash).
Optional: dried rosemary and thyme - 1 teaspoon each
Salt and pepper

Mix mustard, garlic puree and herbs.

Optional: Bread crumbs for crunch

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. If not doing mustard coating, rub olive oil over leg and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Slather mustard coating over the leg. Press bread crumbs into mustard. Place in a roasting pan. Scatter some cut-up potatoes and carrots around the roast. Roast at high heat for 15 minutes. Turn down to 350 degrees. Basting is optional - I never do.

Pull the meat out when it reaches your desired temperature. The temperature of the meat will continue to rise after it is removed from the oven. Take this into consideration. (I usually pull my roasts out when they are 10 degrees below the desired temperature.) Let leg rest for 15 minutes before carving. De-fat the pan juices and serve them alongside the lamb. They can be mixed with a little wine, salt and pepper if there isn’t much jus.

Roast Leg of Lamb Temperatures
Very rare 120 degrees
Rare 125 degrees
Medium Rare 130 degrees
Medium 140 degrees

Approximate cooking times for rare meat:
Sirloin half - 1 hour
Shank end half - 1 hour
Full leg (5 to 7 lbs) 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours

The temperature of the leg will continue to rise for 10 minutes. I try to err on the under-done side as the roast can always be popped back in the oven to cook a little more.

To be safe and avoid overcooking, test for doneness after 45 minutes for half leg and one hour for full leg.

How to carve: Do not cut into the center bone. Slice the meat holding your knife parallel to the bone. Use a napkin to hold onto the meat. Cut thin slices until you reach the bone. Then turn the roast over and cut the other side. Continue until all the meat is removed. Save bone for stock. Make Scotch Broth Soup with it.

Photo and recipe ©2012 Kristin Nicholas


Auntie Shan said...

KIDS!! What do They "know"..?! ;-D

Ha! *MORE* "MUD-PIE" for US!! -- BTW, *Your* "Dirt" looks GREAT!!

sheepyhollow said...

Julia is too funny! It's all about presentation, isn't it? YUM! I wish I could reach into the computer monitor... I like all of the pics, but the first photo actually displays the thoughtful presentation with the rosemary sprigs and symmetry of roasted veggies all around! But, all of your photos are exceptional (in my opinion)! Happy Easter!

Savannagal said...

I sure wish we lived nearer each other. I don't eat beef, pork or veal, but boy oh boy do I love lamb. Thanks for sharing your wonderful recipes.

Turtle said...

i so wish we lived earlier to be able to purchase our lamb from you... ours will be grilled slowly on the bbq at camp this coming weekend... if we are lucky and catch a salmon we can be smoking that too!