Most lamb legs available in area markets are sold as semi-boneless or partially boneless. They will have the shank attached and will be trimmed of excess fat. Here, wonderful herb and garlic flavors accent the meat, while the roasted red-skinned potatoes, a traditional Greek-American accompaniment, are a great addition to this feast and soak up the seasoned lamb flavor when roasted together with the meat.
Allow 12 to 24 hours for the marinade. You'll need kitchen twine to tie up the lamb.
Servings: 8 - 10
- For the lamb and marinade
- 1 (96 ounces) leg of lamb, partially boned
- 6 medium cloves garlic
- 3/4 cup packed basil leaves, plus more for (optional) garnish
- 1/2 cup packed mint leaves, plus more for (optional) garnish
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon, halved and seeded
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt
- 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- For the potatoes
- 2 pounds small red-skinned potatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary
- 2 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- Freshly ground black pepper
For the lamb and marinade: Place the meat fat side up on a work surface. Using a thin, sharp boning knife, carefully remove the thin, silvery membrane that covers the outside of the fat layer, taking care to avoid cutting through the fat and into the meat. If the leg still has the femur bone attached, you can remove it easily by cutting open the leg along the edge of the bone where it runs through the thick part of the leg muscle. Turn the meat fat side down and carefully cut around the femur to separate it from the meat. Separate it from the shank by cutting through the cartilage that connects the two bones at their joint. (The shank bone will remain.) Set aside.
In a food processor, combine the garlic, basil, mint and rosemary; drizzle with the olive oil and pulse several times, until the mixture becomes a kind of pesto paste. Spread half of the pesto evenly over the inside of the lamb where the bone was removed. Beginning at the shank, tie the lamb securely with kitchen twine, knotting it every 2 inches, so that the leg is back to its natural shape. Rub the remaining pesto on the outside of the tied lamb leg. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for up to 24 hours.
Adjust the lower rack near the bottom of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Have ready a shallow roasting pan.
Squeeze the halved lemon over the lamb and rub the juice into the meat.
In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes; sprinkle the mixture evenly over the seasoned lamb leg and allow it to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. Transfer the meat to the pan and roast for 1 1/2 hours; the roast should be rare at this point.
For the potatoes: Cut them in half and toss with the olive oil, rosemary and garlic in a mixing bowl. Scatter the potatoes around the roasting pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for about 30 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the lamb reaches 130 degrees.
Transfer the lamb to a cutting board to rest for 15 minutes. (During this time the internal temperature will rise between 5 and 10 degrees.) While the lamb is resting, return the potatoes to the oven, if necessary, either to keep them warm or until they are fully cooked and nicely browned, 10 to 15 minutes.
To serve, carefully cut away the kitchen twine and discard. Hold the lamb at the shank end and evenly slice the meat with a sharp carving knife. Transfer the shank to a warm platter and fan the slices out from the shank bone across the middle of the platter. Scatter the potatoes around the meat; if desired, garnish the platter with fresh herbs. Pour the juices from the pan and the cutting board over the meat and potatoes.
Recipe from Russell Cronkhite.
Tested by Jill Grisco.
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