A leg of lamb
makes a big roast that's a satisfying and less expensive alternative to
the elegant saddle or rack. Some cooks bone the leg completely before
roasting and some only bone it partially, to make the leg easier to carve.
It is best to leave at least two bones in the leg because the bone adds
flavor and makes for an attractive presentation. The leg is tied in three
places to secure the flaps of meat around the hip, so that the roast cooks
To roast a leg,
just set it in a heavy-bottomed roasting pan, with no roasting rack, in a
hot oven. When the lamb is cooked, you can skim the fat from the juices
left in the pan and serve them as a simple jus (the juices that are
released by the lamb as it cooks). Or you can make more flavorful jus if
you roast the leg on a bed of lamb bones and trimmings (from the leg
itself), and a handful of unpeeled garlic cloves or chopped onion or
shallot and carrot. The bones and trimmings also serve to keep the leg
from sticking to the pan. Then deglaze the pan with stock or water and
strain the juices. You could go a step further and thicken the jus with
the pureed garlic from the roast.
A whole leg of
lamb with the hip bone (pelvis) left in should weight from 7 to 8 pounds
and the lamb should be no more than a year old.
If you buy a
leg of lamb from the butcher, he will remove the large piece of pelvis
and tailbone, but if you buy a leg of lamb at the supermarket, you might
have to do this yourself.
temperature is determined by how long it takes to brown the meat without
overcooking it. Because leg is relatively large, it is roasted at a
lower temperature (400oF) than rack of lamb.
Because the leg
cooks for a long time, chances are the bones and trimmings will be well
browned by the time the leg comes out of the oven. If not, brown them a
bit more in the roasting pan on top of the stove before deglazing the
Leg of Lamb
1. Fold up the loose flaps at the
end of the leg of lamb.
Place the leg in a heavy-bottomed roasting pan, season with salt and
pepper, and surround with the bones and any small meat trimming.
2. Tie two lengths of string
lengthwise around the leg of lamb, hooking them on both sides of the
shank on one end and over the loose flaps at the other. Then tie a
length of string crosswise around.
Roast in a 400oF oven for about 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a
thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the leg reads from 120oF
to 130oF for rare to medium-rare, or more, depending on
your tastes. Twenty minutes into the roasting, surround the rack with
the cloves from 2 broken-up heads of garlic.