Sunday, March 23, 2008

Eating Easter: Rosemary and lemon crusted leg of lamb

It's Easter! Lucky for us, the Easter bunny came yesterday, so we don't have to slog around in this drizzly weather looking for eggs.

Tonight we're having a family dinner and we're recreating the fantastic leg of lamb we cooked last October. So I'm lazily re-printing the recipe below. Enjoy.

What a beautiful piece of meat it was. I had to do a little trimming of silver skin, but not much. We left a good amount of fat on the meat (which we scored so that it'd render more easily) and did a very simple rosemary-lemon-garlic salt rub. We also threw a thick-sliced onion and some sliced fennel into the bottom of the roasting pan (to cook in the lamb juices). Yum.

Rosemary Crusted Leg of Lamb
1 6-7lb leg of lamb, bone-in
4 T rosemary needles
8 cloves garlic
Zest of 1 lemon
1 T kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
olive oil
1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced (optional)
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced (optional)

Prepare salt:
In a small food-processor, chop 6 cloves of garlic, all of the rosemary, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Process until rosemary is very fine and all garlic is chopped fine. Set aside.

Prepare lamb:
Score fat on lamb in a criss-cross pattern with a sharp knife, getting down to the meat level with your knife. This allows the fat to render, which marinates the meat and gives the finished roast a crispy thin crust (as opposed to a thick fatty crust).

Rub the lamb with the rosemary-lemon-garlic salt. Thinly slice the 2 remaining cloves of garlic and, using a long narrow knife, cut slits into the lamb, placing slices of garlic into the slits and pushing them in with your finger. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours.

Remove roast from refrigerator 1/2 hour before cooking, to come to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 425. Place oven rack towards the bottom of the oven (you want the lamb to sit in the middle of the oven, not towards the top). Scatter onions and fennel in bottom of roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt.

Remove plastic from meat and place lamb on a roasting rack. Place rack into the roasting pan (or you can place the roast directly onto the fennel and onions) and roast for 25 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and roast for another hour to 75 minutes, or until a thermometer reads 130 in the thickest part of the roast. Remove from oven and allow meat to rest, tented with foil, for 20 minutes.

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