Looking for something to highlight all the amazing flavors and texture of that cherry-pistachio-cocoa powder couscous I recently raved about? Well, here it is: an easy peasy lemon squeezy recipe for roasted leg of lamb (except no lemon squeezing, please).
I’m a little ashamed to admit that I failed to take any pictures of the sliced meat. You see, while this baby was roasting in the oven, my hungry self had to endure the worst waiting game. First, I tried to distract myself by doing homework, but that didn’t work very well. I’m always looking for distractions from homework as it is (and this particular homework featured some very dense reading about corporate finance and the various details involved in financial statements), so the incredible smell of roasting lamb constantly drifting into my nose was a necessary and welcome distraction from homework, but not from my rumbly tummy.
So then I tried doing laundry. We had a nice big pile of it laying around anyway, so might as well exorcise the hauntingly delicious smell of lamb from my nostrils by taking a trip down the hall to the laundry room. Except that the lamb had traveled there, too. Our entire floor smelled like the glory that is roasted lamb. (I’d apologize to my neighbors, but really, it’s lamb, not stinky salmon, so there’s no doubt that it smells amazing.)
Then, finally, after an hour-ish of putting up with the joint effort made by the roasting lamb and my nostrils to torture my empty, growling stomach, it was time to take the lamb out of the oven. I employed enough self-restraint to take a final post-roast picture (well, not really; the lamb had to rest for 15-20 minutes anyway, so taking a picture was really just another way to pass time). But once I started carving the lamb into beautiful, succulent slices, I lost all power to resist. I feasted. Immediately. In an I-was-so-hungry-that-I-must’ve-blacked-out-while-eating-because-where-on-Earth-did-all-the-food-go kind of way. Hence, no pictures of sliced lamb leg.
I apologize, but if it makes you feel better, the food blog gods got back at me by making my entire apartment, including my work wardrobe, smell like roasted lamb for two days. And I’m reasonably certain that a crazy homeless person almost licked me on my way to work the next day. Good thing he didn’t because, while I might have smelled like roasted lamb, I certainly wouldn’t have tasted as juicy and tender, and I’d hate to reflect poorly on the actual flavor of this scrumptious little lamb leg.
Roasted Leg of Lamb (adapted from Alton Brown’s Silence of the Leg O’ Lamb)
Serves 6 to 8
This leg of lamb recipe is easy to make, and the meat is so naturally tender that it should turn out well with very little effort on your part. Just be careful not to overcook the lamb, and keep in mind that the lamb’s internal temperature will continue to rise a bit (i.e., it will continue to cook) after you remove it from the oven. If you overcook the lamb, it will get very dry, so be watchful when it comes to that meat thermometer.
4-lb. leg of lamb (sirloin end), boned and trussed
4 cloves garlic
12 mint leaves
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. black pepper
4 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. canola oil
Preheat oven to 450°F.
In a food processor, chop garlic cloves. Add mint to the processing bowl, and roughly chop. Add brown sugar, salt, pepper, mustard, and oil, and blend until ingredients form a paste.
(If your butcher had not already done so, roll the leg into a roast shape, and tie with cotton butcher’s twine.) Spread the paste evenly (and generously!) over the roast. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the roast. Place the roast with the fattiest side up on a rack in a roasting pan (or just directly on the roasting pan, though it’s better to use a rack if you have one; I don’t have one … yet). Place on middle rack in the oven.
Roast at 450°F for 20 minutes to sear the lamb. Then reduce oven temperature to 325°F, and continue cooking lamb. Remove lamb from oven when meat thermometer indicates that the lamb’s internal temperature has reached 130°F. Cut the twine off the roast, and discard the twine. Then cover the roast with foil ,and allow it to rest for 15 minutes before serving.
Serve with Dried Cherry-Pistachio-Cocoa Powder Couscous for lovely twist on a Mediterranean side dish that really complements the lamb. Or, for the more conventional lamb side dishes (i.e., the ones that couscous-apathetic Jay prefers), consider placing small potatoes and asparagus on the roasting pan after the lamb is done (while it’s resting), stirring to coat in the lamb’s drippings, and then roast the veggies in that pan until cooked through (clearly, asparagus will take less time than the potatoes, so add them later or remove them early to prevent a stringy mess). Roasted this way, the vegetables are so flavorful that you won’t have to add any extra seasoning!