by Amanda Mattos
On Saturday, I strolled over to Timor, the wonderful organic/locally grown bodega in my neighborhood to see what was in stock. The leg of lamb caught my eye. I’ve never cooked one of those before, but I love love love lamb and figured I could do a little light reading and come up with something.
I decided to go for the marinate-and-roast option. I read a bunch of recipes and commentaries online and that seemed like the most fail-safe and potentially delicious way to go. My recipe for that and the mint chutney and roasted veggeis I served with it after the jump.
Step One: Rub It Down
I realize this is a bit counter-intuitive, as rubbing something down is normally the step following smacking it up and flipping it. Make a paste in your food processor of 4 or 5 garlic cloves, rosemary, thyme, oregano, black pepper, coriander seeds and a little bit of olive oil. Rub that all over the leg.
Step Two: Get It Drunk
Put your herbed-up leg into a gallon zip lock bag. Pour about half of a bottle of red wine and about the same amount of orange juice in there. Zip it, and throw it in the fridge over night. (I double-bagged it to avoid spilling. OK I lied, I double bagged it after I spilled the first batch of marinade all over my kitchen and into my utensils drawer. Lessons learned.) I let mine soak in the marinade for more than 24 hours, but if you don’t have that much time I’m sure it would still work out.
Step Three: Push It Real Good
I couldn’t think of a clever step name for pulling it out of the marinade, placing it on your roasting rack and rubbing it all over with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. So I used a Salt N Peppa lyric.
Step Four: Um… Cook It
You do not want to overcook lamb. It has so much flavor. And overcooking turns it into that thing that most people think they don’t like because their parents cooked it wrong all during their childhoods. A good piece of lamb will be red on the inside, with a temp of about 145 F. I put it into my 425 degree oven and took it’s temp after about 30 minutes. It had a long way to go. I put it in for another 20 minutes at that temperature, then lowered it down to 340 for the last half hour of cooking. It was perfection.
Step Five: Yo, Cut It
If possible, invite your father over to use his fatherly meat carving skills.
Then put it on a platter and show off how gorgeous it looks, like this.
Step Six: Put It In Your Mouth
This was so phenomenally delicious. We ate every single bite. Which is sad, because I want more in a big way.
The meat was so flavorful — you could really taste both the wine and the OJ and all the herbs. It didn’t even really need a sauce. But when I think lamb, I think mint. So I made a mint chutney, that was also phenomenal. I’ll be dreaming up different things to slather this on throughout the week. Just chuck the following into your food processor:
- The entire contents of one of those fresh packs of mint. Or, if we’re being measury, about a cup.
- 6 or so cloves of garlic
- 6 or so spring/green onions
- About a tablespoon of honey
- About a teaspoon of sugar
- A dried cayenne pepper
- A little squeeze of lemon juice
I made this ahead of time and stuck it in the fridge; I think that gave it a chance to firm up a bit.
I also roasted some veggies at the same time as I roasted the lamb. Cut up some new potatoes, asparagus and carrots into bite sized pieces. Dice about half a head of garlic. Chop some rosemary, thyme and sage. Grind some fresh black pepper and a very little bit of salt. Toss all that together. Drizzle with olive oil and toss again. Cover the tray with anchovies, and pour their oil over the rest when it’s empty. Wait a minute, did you just say anchovies, Amanda? Yes, yes I did. This is a trick I learned from my pal Jamie Oliver. The anchovies melt away (and so does any fishy taste) while the veggies cook, leaving behind a rich, salty flavor that really pushes these into delicious stand alone territory rather than tasty side territory.
And, voila! You have just made your father proclaim you a gifted child who made the best lamb he’s ever had — and he’s had a lot of lamb.