Friday, October 8, 2010

Best Leg of Lamb You'll Ever Eat

After the Party

Best. Lamb. Ever.

This is no idle boast - Seriously.

My family is Greek. Lamb is what we do and we know it like nobody you'll ever meet. This is the best lamb you'll ever eat. Know someone who doesn't like lamb? Feed 'em this, and you'll have a convert. A few years back a guy advised me that if I fed this lamb to any potential husband material, I'd snag him for life.

NOTE: If you don't have FRESH garlic, lemon and rosemary, go make frank n' beans. This ain't WalMart food.

1 Leg of Lamb (whole leg, ankle to hip)
4 lemons
1 head garlic (whole head, not just one clove)
1 large handful of rosemary sprigs
1/4 cup extra extra extra extra virgin olive oil (The darker and greener, the better).
2 Tbl Salt
2 Tbl Pepper

*Note: If using a small lamb roast instead of an entire leg, cut the ingredients to 1/3 the recommended amounts.

Note the weight of the leg of lamb. You'll need it later.

Grate as much of the lemon rind as possible from the lemons (only the yellow part - too much pith makes it bitter), then juice the lemons. Marinate the lamb in the juice/rind mixture for 3 hours.

Prepare a paste by chopping the rosemary leaves (not stems) and garlic as finely as possible. If you can get it into a smooth paste, you rock. Otherwise just do your best (it's not easy). Mix with the olive oil.

Cross-score the lamb fat on the leg. Rub the salt and pepper into the scores in the fat. Coat the leg with the paste to make a crust, rubbing well into the scores.

Roast in a 325 degree oven for 30 minutes per pound (remember the weight of the roast?).

Let the meat rest for 20 minutes under tented foil before cutting. It should still be pink in the middle.

FOR GOD'S SAKE, DON'T SERVE MINT SAUCE!!! Mint sauce was invented by idjits who didn't like the taste of lamb. It's like covering a beautiful steak with ketchup. The meat should be moist and flavorful enough without sauces or gravies. Good side dishes with this are roasted greek potatoes, orzo with avgolemono or lemon spinach.


I think there's something really visceral and old fashioned about inviting a whole bunch of people to a meal and then just roasting a huge chunk of an animal. Our ancestors did it, their ancestors did it and lots of cultures still have a tradition of sharing a big ol' joint. ... um, of meat. The photo at the top was taken after an Easter party, where guests were welcome to serve themselves from food in the kitchen over the course of an afternoon. I walked into the room and literally saw nothing but bones and scraps of rosemary on the serving platter. Our guests had picked the bones clean - there wasn't even enough left to make a decent lamb stock. The photo was purely spontaneous but I love what it represents: friends and family, taking nourishment from a single source. Corny? Probably. But true. And... delicious.


  1. You're not kidding!!! This was the best lamb EVER. I have tried different recipes and this is by far the best. Thank you:-)

    1. Hey, thanks! It's great to see one of our 'serious' recipes getting some props on the site. :)

  2. I know this post is years old, but I have been staring at it with anticipation for a few minutes now.

    Flipping through grocery ad, lamb leggies on sale. Huh, never tried to cook that animal. Does Alton Brown have a video, not for lamb leg. Poke around on internet, look for - oh god look at that, yes. This is the recipe I will use to conquer this new meat.

    And adorable video game themed recipes in the side panel. Now I snoop on your blog while I wait for the LAMB SALE TO START. Yesss.

    1. Right on! As you say, years old, but we leave 'em up because we love 'em - and hope you will too!

  3. This is almost exactly what I do for thick loin lamb chops. I season the chops with slat and pepper and then mix the lemon juice, olive oil, rosemary, and minced garlic together and put that with the chops in a Ziploc bag for at least 24 hours. I have marinated them for as long as three days too with no problems. Then I sear them at high temperature to medium rare on the grill. Its an awesome combination of flavors

  4. You don't mention turning the leg over so I will leave mine as is. That right?