A Perfect Leg of Lamb

When I first met my husband, I was immediately struck by his charm and good looks – falling head over heels almost instantly! Our love of cooking and great food became clear early on in our relationship. Cooking together was something we did to relax and spend time as a couple. Many amazing and memorable meals have passed through our kitchen over the years. 

With our busy schedules and raising three children, cooking together is often put on the back burner (no pun intended). Since my husband and I both love to entertain, we try to carve out time to host a few dinner parties throughout the year.

Our annual Christmas party gives us a chance to come together and get creative in the kitchen. While I love to try new twists on holiday favorites, there are a few things that have become tradition in our house – my husband’s famous Leg of Lamb is one of them.

Smothered with spices, massaged in aromatic herbs and studded with garlic – this lamb is the ultimate centerpiece for any holiday table. Slow cooked on a bed of root vegetables with a beautifully crusted exterior, the tender meat slides off the bone in this succulent dish.

Leg of Lamb

Serves 10 to 12

Equipment:

  • One large roasting pan large enough to hold all your ingredients
  • Aluminum foil to cover your pan
  • Plastic wrap

Ingredients (lamb):

  • 1 x 3.5 kg leg of lamb, on the bone and trimmed of any visible fat (90% fat removed)
  • 20 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon all-spice
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • ½ tablespoon white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper (freshly ground or powdered)
  • 2 tablespoon oregano
  • 1½ tablespoon salt

Ingredients (roasting):

  • 6 carrots
  • 8 medium sized potatoes
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (usually they are big and long)
  • 6 medium brown onions (remove the outer peel, leave them whole)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 pinches salt and pepper
  • ½ tablespoon oregano
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups of red wine (optional)

Preparing the Lamb (night before)

Stud and coat the lamb with garlic, spices and herbs the night before to allow it to absorb the flavours and create that amazing crust in roasting.

Start by making incisions into the leg of lamb (1 to 2 inches deep). Insert one garlic clove into each incision, until you’ve used all.

Massage the leg of lamb with juice of a lemon and table salt, enough to set the first coat. Rub and massage the other spices, one at a time, start with the cinnamon, then nutmeg, then cumin, each as a layer. As you are rubbing the spice in, it will start to feel dry, put a little olive oil in your hand and pat the leg of lamb.  Continue with the black pepper and allspice. Finally, put a little olive oil on the leg and coat with oregano.   Wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and leave overnight in the fridge.

Roasting the Lamb

Remove the lamb from the fridge and let sit for an hour. Remove the plastic wrap.

Preheat your oven to Max or 260 C (500 F)

Cut the sweet potato in thee inch pieces. On the bottom of you pan, place the onions, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. Put 1 cup of olive oil, 2 cups of water, juice of 2 lemons and 2 cups of red wine (if you are not adding wine, use 2 more cups of water). Add salt and pepper and oregano. Shake the pan to move the liquid around. Make sure your liquid covers the vegetables by at least half way up. Place the carrots and lamb on top.

Your pan goes into the oven uncovered for 45 min. Take out and turn the leg of lamb to expose the side not cooking. Cook the other side for 30 min, still uncovered.

Remove the pan from the oven. Turn down the oven to 180 C (350 F).

Turn the lamb gently back to the other side. Cover the pan well with aluminum foil and the lid. If the lid does not fit, just use aluminum foil. Let the lamb cook for 3 more hours, checking in on it every hour or so. Be very careful when opening the foil each time, the heat is intense.

When done, remove the foil, let it cook for 20 more minutes. Remove from the oven, let rest for 20 minutes. You can serve the lamb straight out of your pan or plate it. Now you’re ready to feast!

Copyright © 2015 Lidija’s Kitchen, including personal images taken by the author.

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