Lamb is a common dish prepared around the world to celebrate Easter. I decided to experiment with a boneless leg of lamb, a tender cut of meat that makes an elegant main course dish.
Lamb has a strong flavor, it’s also delicious therefore you don’t want to overpower it. On the contrary for a large cut of meat, the right amount of seasoning or marinade is required to sink in the flavors.
I created a pungent marinade using garlic and a bundle of fresh herbs; parsley, sweet basil and cilantro, an aromatic trio that result to perfection!
When you purchase a boneless leg of lamb it is held together with netting. I recommend cooking the lamb with the netting as opposed to tying it with kitchen string. However, you want to get the marinade well incorporated so what I suggest you do is carefully remove the netting, unfold the lamb to spread the marinade all over then fold it back and insert the lamb back into the netting to secure for the roasting process. It’s super easy to do with a helping hand and well worth it. If you’re worried that the netting may fall apart, just ask your butcher for a little extra just in case!
The good news is the hard part is over once you’ve marinated the lamb. The oven does the rest of the work for you. What you do need and is probably the most important part of this process is a thermometer. Do not attempt to make this without one. And guess what? The simple instant digital thermometers work the best, don’t bother investing in an expensive one, I’ve tried them all!
I begin the cooking process at a high temperature to get a nice brown crust; the temperature is then reduced to a lower temperature for the remainder of the cooking time. It requires a little patience, but you will be pleased with the results of a very tender lamb.
Roast until the very center reaches anywhere from 130-135 degrees. The lamb will continue to cook while it rests and will allow the juices to sink back in. While you wait the center will be medium-rare for the medium-rare lovers and the ends will be a perfect medium for the not so daring. What you don’t want is an overcooked lamb. It will result in a tough texture and not how this particular meat should be enjoyed.
I serve this dish with an herbed Yogurt Sauce bringing back some of the same delicious marinade ingredients. It’s completely optional and you can serve it with or without the sauce depending on your preference. I grew up eating Yogurt with a lot of our meat dishes and love how it complements lamb.
Lastly, do buy a good quality lamb. It makes a world of difference. The best in town is the Choice American Spring Lamb at Harvest Ranch/Jonathan’s Markets. Enjoy your Easter Holiday gatherings with great food and good company! Cheers!
Garlic and Herb Roasted Boneless Leg of Lamb
A trio of fresh herbs and garlic create a pungent marinade that adds just the right amount of flavor to this tender cut of lamb. Serve with the optional Herbed Yogurt Sauce for an added touch and enjoy for any special occasion!
1 6lb Boneless Leg of Lamb, fat trimmed to about ¼ inch thick
8 large cloves of Garlic
2 cups Basil leaves, packed
1 cup Italian Parsley leaves, packed
½ cup Cilantro leaves, packed
¼ cup fresh Lemon Juice
⅛ teaspoon Iodized Salt
¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
¾ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt (or Kosher Salt) & Fresh Ground Pepper to taste
Herbed Yogurt Sauce-optional
1 ½ cups Whole Plain Yogurt
½ cup Sour Cream
2 tablespoons finely chopped Basil
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian Parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped Cilantro
1 tablespoon Lemon Zest (about 1 lemon)
1½ tablespoon minced Shallots or 1 tablespoon minced Garlic
Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to taste
Prepare Marinade for Lamb: In a food processor, pulse garlic until finely minced. Add basil, parsley and cilantro and pulse. Slowly pour in olive oil from the top while processor is on. Add lemon juice, ⅛ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper, scrape down sides and blend until mixture is combined. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Prepare Herbed Yogurt Sauce: Combine yogurt, sour cream, basil, parsley, cilantro, lemon zest and shallots in a medium sized bowl. Add sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. (Can be prepared up to two days ahead)
Remove netting from lamb (DO NOT CUT) and set aside for re-use. Unfold lamb on large working surface and make several slits on both sides with tip of a small sharp knife. Rub marinade all over lamb and spoon into each slit as much as possible. Fold lamb and insert back into the netting. (kitchen string may be used to re-tie lamb if preferred) Place lamb in a large Ziploc or plastic bag and pour in any remaining marinade. Double bag if necessary, remove air from bag and seal. Refrigerate overnight or up to two days.
Roast Lamb: Remove lamb from bag and sprinkle generously with sea salt (or kosher salt) and fresh ground pepper on both sides. Place fat side up on a rack in a heavy roasting pan and bring to room temperature, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450 degrees with rack in the bottom third (Lamb should roast in the middle).
Place 2 cups of water in roasting pan (to prevent drippings from burning)
Place lamb in the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Reduce temperature to 325 degrees and roast until a thermometer inserted in the center of the lamb reaches 130-135 degrees for a medium-rare center, about 1 hour and 50 minutes to 2 hours longer. (Cooking time may vary depending on thickness) Transfer meat to a platter and let it rest for 10-15 minutes loosely covered in foil. Cut away netting and carve into ½ inch thick slices. Serve with Herbed Yogurt Sauce.
Download Recipe (PDF)