This is an easy rendition of Mediterranean-style lamb, in which an herb paste is rubbed inside and outside, then the meat is rolled and neatly tied. Bacon added to the paste lends a faint smokiness and lards the leg where most of the fat has been removed.
Make Ahead: Not only is it fine to prep the roast with its herb coating inside and out and tie it ahead of time, it's better to do so; it gives the flavors a chance to meld. You don't even have to cover it in the refrigerator, if you don't mind the lingering aroma of garlic. Bring the roast to room temperature by taking it out of the refrigerator 1 hour before roasting.
Servings: 6 - 8
- Leaves from 2 stems of rosemary (1/4 cup loosely packed)
- Leaves from 4 large sprigs of thyme (2 tablespoons)
- Leaves from 1/2 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, washed well and patted dry (12 cup)
- Leaves from 8 sprigs of mint (1/4 cup)
- 2 medium cloves garlic, crushed
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons sweet vermouth
- 4 strips (about 2 ounces) uncooked bacon, chopped
- 4 to 5 pounds leg of lamb (fat trimmed to 1/8 inch), shank bone intact, femur or sirloin bone removed and reserved
- 1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
- 1 large onion, cut into quarters
- 2 ribs celery
- 4 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 1 bay leaf
Line a large, shallow roasting pan with aluminum foil.
Combine the rosemary, thyme, parsley, mint, garlic, salt, pepper and vermouth in the bowl of a food processor; run the machine for 30 seconds to form an herb paste. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the mixture.
Add the bacon to the remaining herb paste in the food processor; puree for 30 seconds, until the bacon is fully incorporated. (There will be roughly 1/2 cup of bacon-herb paste.)
Lay the lamb fat side down on a cutting board. There might be a node of fat underneath the shank bone. If there is, use a knife to remove it. Spread half of the bacon-herb paste evenly over the inside surface of the leg. Use kitchen twine to tie the leg together crosswise at 1-inch intervals, starting at the widest part in the middle and working toward the ends.
Tie the roast together lengthwise once on each side of the shank bone and turn it over. The roast should be compact and shaped like a Bartlett pear. Spread the remaining bacon-herb paste all over the outside of the lamb. [See this <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/gallery/2009/04/07/GA2009040702361.html">photo gallery for step-by-step instructions for deboning a leg of lamb</a>.]
Place the lamb in the prepared pan and place the femur bone and the aromatic vegetables around it. Loosely cover the roast and let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
After 45 minutes of that time, position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 450 degrees. Roast the lamb uncovered for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees; roast for 1 hour or until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 125 degrees when measured on an instant-read thermometer.
Remove the pan from the oven. Place the lamb on a cutting board and loosely cover it with foil; let it rest for 15 minutes.
Transfer the aromatic vegetables, roasted bone and pan juices to a large saucepan. Add the beef broth and bay leaf. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes, then discard the bone. Strain the jus through a fine-mesh strainer into a gravy boat, then add the reserved herb paste.
Untie the leg of lamb and cut into 1/2-inch slices. Serve immediately, with herb jus on the side.
From columnist David Hagedorn.
Tested by David Hagedorn.
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