Loin of lamb is an elegant choice for a dinner party. It is best to buy a whole loin that includes the tenderloins and have the butcher break it down for you; that way, you can use the bone to make stock and then reduce that stock to a nice jus. The tenderloins in the center of the bacon-wrapped roast give the herb stuffing a criss-cross look. If only boneless loin is available, buy three pieces of equal length and cut the third piece into strips that resemble tenderloins.
Make Ahead: The jus can be made up to 3 days in advance. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to use. The roast can be assembled the day before; blot it dry on paper towels before roasting.
- For the jus
- Lamb loin bone, trimmed of excess fat
- 2 large carrots, cut lengthwise in half (cleaned, unpeeled)
- 3 ribs celery, cut in half
- 1 large onion, cut in half (unpeeled)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Low-sodium beef broth or stock (enough to cover)
- 1/2 small bunch thyme
- 5 large sprigs rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 10 whole black peppercorns
- 1/4 cup finely chopped garlic and herbs, such as rosemary, thyme or oregano, to taste (optional)
- For the roast
- 2 loins and 2 tenderloins, trimmed of fat and silver skin (from one 4-pound lamb loin saddle; to yield about 22 ounces of meat)
- 2 scallions (trimmed), white and light-green parts, chopped
- Leaves from 1 large sprig rosemary
- Leaves from 2 large sprigs mint
- Leaves from 2 large sprigs oregano
- 2 large cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 8 to 10 strips raw bacon (about 8 ounces; see VARIATIONS)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Have a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet and a stockpot at hand.
Make the lamb jus: Place the lamb bone on the baking sheet. Place the carrots, celery and onion in a large bowl; drizzle them with the oil and stir to coat them lightly. Spread the vegetables around the loin bone. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, until well browned. Transfer the vegetables and bone to a stockpot.
Place the baking sheet over medium-high heat; when it is hot, pour some of the beef broth or stock onto it, using a flat wooden spatula to dislodge all of the browned bits. Transfer the deglazing liquid to the stockpot.
Add just enough of the broth or stock to the stockpot to cover the bone. Add the thyme, rosemary, bay leaf and peppercorns. Bring the liquid to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium; cook, with the liquid lightly bubbling, for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Discard the bones and vegetables, then strain the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer. (If you have it, line the strainer with layers of cheesecloth or a layer of flour sack cloth; that will clarify the stock nicely.) Discard any solids. Skim any fat from the stock (or use a fat separator) and then place the stock in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat for about 30 minutes, until the stock is deep brown and concentrated. There should be 1 1/2 to 2 cups of liquid: the jus. Use as is, or stir in the finely chopped garlic and herbs, if desired.
For the roast: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Have a medium-size roasting pan at hand.
Lay the 2 loin pieces on a plate.
Combine the scallions, rosemary, mint, oregano, garlic, oil, salt and pepper in a mini food processor or blender, and puree to form a paste. Spread the paste down the lengths of the 2 loin pieces. Place the tenderloin pieces on top of one of the loin pieces. Top them with the remaining loin piece, herb side down, as if making a sandwich.
Lay the strips of bacon vertically (side by side) on a cutting board, overlapping them slightly. (There should be enough to wrap the entire loin.) Place the assembled loin on top of the bacon slices, just below the center point. Starting at the bottom, bring the strips of bacon up over the loin, then place your palms on the bacon-enclosed part of the loin and roll the loin over the remaining bacon to encase it completely. Use kitchen twine to tie the roast crosswise at 1-inch intervals, and then once lengthwise.
At this point, the lamb loin can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat until it is very hot. Sear the roast on all sides, just to brown the bacon, then transfer the wrapped loin to a small roasting pan. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes or until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 125 degrees for medium-rare. Let the roast to rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Discard the kitchen twine before cutting it crosswise into thick slices.
Serve with warmed lamb jus.
VARIATIONS: If you'd rather not use bacon in the recipe, here are alternatives:
Substitute lamb bacon for pork bacon. (Lamb bacon can sometimes be found at farmers markets.)
Sear the outsides of the two loin pieces before spreading them with herb mix, then wrap the assembled loins in lamb or beef caul fat; tie the loin, and roast without searing it.
Do not wrap the roast at all. (Some of the herb stuffing might escape, and you should not remove the horizontally tied strings when serving, to keep the slices intact.)
When breaking down the saddle, leave the fat and belly fat attached to the loin, and use the belly fat to wrap the loin roast. Then proceed with the recipe as if the loin were wrapped with bacon.
From Sourced columnist David Hagedorn.
Tested by David Hagedorn.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at firstname.lastname@example.org.