A few years ago when I catered my sister in law’s wedding rehearsal dinner, I discovered this type of lamb cut to be an essential part of entertaining on a grand scale. This leg of lamb doesn’t look too big, but at around 4 to 4.5 pounds, this cut can be grilled, roasted, slow cooked, or braised- then cut thinly to serve a very nice size crowd.
I get started with the few simple ingredients needed to achieve a very juicy, very delicious meal: one boneless leg of lamb (ask your butcher ahead of time for this cut, or order from a reliable halal source); one box of Saffron’ Road’s Classic Culinary Lamb Broth (it’s halal-certified), a couple sprigs each of fresh mint and fresh rosemary, some olive oil for drizzling, sea salt and about 20 cloves of fresh garlic.
Yes, I said 20 cloves of garlic.
Don’t worry, though. It’s not over-powering at all once it’s cooked thoroughly and melts into the meat and liquids in the pan.
It really does make a difference to use fresh herbs in this roast- for some reason, it’s just not the same to use dried. The pungency just isn’t there and it seems like the lamb simply absorbs the freshness in the most aromatic way.
Salt the meat first then stuff the garlic under the netting, if your roast comes with that netting.
If not, you can actually make slits in the meat or in the fat on top and stick the cloves inside.
Do the same with the fresh rosemary and mint.
Drizzle with olive oil and a bit of freshly ground black pepper.
Now get out the Saffron Road Lamb Broth. You’re only going to use about one cup of it at first and then more during the cooking process. Yes, you could use water, but that doesn’t give the dish the deep and lovely flavor you’ll want to dip the cut pieces of lamb into upon serving. Trust me.
Just pour about one cup to the bottom of the roasting pan. It’s okay if you get some on the meat right now, but try not to otherwise you’ll hear a lot of splattering going on in the oven.
It should look a little like this at the bottom of the pan- the meat is not swimming in it, but it’s going to give the meat the moisture it needs to not dry out when roasting, especially since this recipe doesn’t call for covering it.
Preheat the oven to 425° F. You’ll roast it that way for about 20 minutes, then add another cup of lamb broth and reduce to the heat to 350°F and continue cooking for about three hours. Use a meat thermometer and put it deep into the meat’s middle to make sure it reads at least 165°. Pull it out and let it rest for ten minutes, covering the meat if you can, to retain it’s juices. If you cut it too early, it will let all of those juices out of the meat and you’ll end up with a dry roast after all.
Now you’ll have some juice at the bottom. You could make a gravy with it by placing the pan over a burner and adding some flour (remove the garlic and herb pieces first), then whisk vigorously until you reach a thick consistency. Personally, I just like to use this sauce as a jus, or dipping sauce.
At this point it almost looks like a pot roast.
If after cooking you find it too be a little too pink in the middle for your liking, place it back in the oven for another 15 minutes or so; alternatively you can slice it up and place in a microwave, covered with the juices at the bottom. This helps to finish off the middle without drying it out.
Slice it thinly and dip the pieces back into the sauce.
At my sister’s wedding rehearsal dinner, we served this up as an appetizer alongside a glamorously finished plat of hummus. Needless to say, because it was sliced so thinly and served with ease that way, the huge plates we served were absolutely gone at the end of the dinner. Of course for a family dinner, you will most likely want to serve it a little differently. I can’t imagine anything that goes better with this than a side of mashed potatoes, a baked potato or even oven-baked fries. But, I’ve been known to slice and eat this with nothing else at all…
- 1 boneless leg of lamb, preferably netted
- 20 cloves of fresh garlic
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 3-4 sprigs fresh mint
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 cups Saffron Road Culinary Classic Lamb Broth
- Preheat the oven to 425° F.
- Prepare the lamb directly in its roasting pan. Sprinkle the sea salt on top.
- Remove peels from fresh garlic then place each clove under the netting. If the roast does not have netting, simply slit the meat semi-deeply then place a clove in each slot. Proceed to do this all around the top and sides of the meat.
- Place the fresh rosemary and mint leaves under the netting, as well.
- Drizzle the meat generously with olive oil.
- Use one cup of the Saffron Road Culinary Classic Lamb Broth and pour in the bottom of the roasting pan.
- Place the meat in the heated oven, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
- Remove the meat from the oven and reduce the heat to 325°-350° F. Add one more cup of the Saffron Road Culinary Classic Lamb Broth to the bottom of the pan. Pour some of the juices from the bottom on top of the meat, too.
- Continue roasting for another 2.5 to 3 hours, checking the meat for dryness and pouring juices over the top, as needed. Alternatively, you can cover the meat with foil. If doing that, poke holes in the foil to allow some air to escape.
- Once the 2.5 hours has passed, insert a meat thermometer to check the temperature. The middle of the roast should read at least 165° F. If it's done, remove from oven and let rest, covered; if not, continue cooking for another 20-30 minutes and check again.
- Remove the garlic cloves and the herbs before slicing. Once sliced, reserve the liquids for dipping or pour directly over the meat slices before serving.
- This recipe can also be adapted for grilling, however, no broth should be added unless you're using a drip tray directly under the meat. Be sure to grill covered and carefully monitor the grilling process, as it can easily char and burn when unsupervised.