Apr 24, 2011

Roasted Leg of Lamb

Wanted to revisit this recipe for a couple reasons. First, we made it for our Easter dinner and it was fantastic. Second, this is one of those rare years that both Easter and the Greek orthodox Easter fall on the same day; so we figured lamb is surely appropriate. This is an absolutely wonderful family recipe that will surely become part of your cooking repertoire once you taste it; it's great as a holiday meal or for a dinner party with friends. The spices, oil, lemon and juices from the lamb offer the perfect basting liquid and the result is a tender and juicy leg of lamb that's sure to impress. We each served it with different sauces - Monica made a Tzatziki sauce and Caitlin made a mint-cilantro and yogurt sauce. Whether you try the sauces or just the meat and veggies alone, we're positive you'll love this just as much as we do.

Caitlin: Love this meal!! Overall, it's pretty easy - just season the lamb then throw it in the oven for about 4 hours making sure to baste it often, then toss in the veggies for the last hour or so and it's ready! I decided to try a twist on the traditional mint sauce that is often served with roast lamb. I used a cilantro-mint recipe from Wolfgang Puck and combined it with yogurt and citrus - the result was amazing! It complimented the meat perfectly - it was the right amount of spice, citrus and mint which didn't overpower the taste of the meat. The lamb is so perfectly seasoned that it can be eaten both ways - with sauce or without.
Caitlin's version with a mint-cilantro yogurt sauce
Monica: I agree with Caitlin...I love a recipe that is easy to prepare and cooks while you are able to prepare the sides and enjoy the music!  I have eaten leg of lamb since I can remember and I asked my cousin Veni for her famous lamb recipe.  This is it!  It absolutely melts in your mouth.  I also had to make my potatoes the way my Yia Yia makes them. First wedge the potatoes and pan fry them lightly in a saute pan with a bit of Canola oil then add them to the roasting pan about an hour and a half before the lamb is ready. I also threw some carrots in there because they roast beautifully with the meat.  Oh and don't forget the Tzatziki - I have an awesome recipe for that too!  
Monica's version with Tzatziki sauce
Ingredient List 
6 lb Leg of lamb – you can ask for bone-in for a more tender piece of meat
6 – 7 cloves of garlic, slivered
Sprigs of fresh thyme, enough to wrap around each sliver of garlic
Extra virgin olive oil (plenty to rub on the lamb)
1 -2 tbs dried or fresh oregano
1  tbs  rosemary
Juice of 1 lemon
Glass of water

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

To prepare the meat:
Pierce with knife numerous times to make slits. Stick slivers of garlic wrapped with sprigs of thyme in the slits.

Rub both sides with extra virgin olive, be generous.  Once olive oil is applied add plenty of salt, then add pepper.  Add the lemon juice and finish by sprinkling dried rosemary & dried oregano on the meat.

Place in a roasting pan, fat side up, and add 1 glass of water around the meat.

Let it cook for about 4 hours, basting with the juices every half hour. Add the vegetables of your choice to the pan - we suggest potatoes (steak fry sliced) and carrots.  Cook for an additional 1 ½ hours turning the heat up to 325 (you'll get a nice a brown on the top and the veggies can cook without turning soggy). 

Be sure to watch the water and add more throughout the cooking process if needed.

The two sauces we suggest are a lovely compliment, but the juices alone from the meat taste fantastic. Thinly slice the lamb, arrange the veggies and pour the juices over both. If adding a sauce, place a dollop on the plate.

*If Making the Cilantro-Mint Yogurt Sauce 
1/2 tbsp chopped ginger
1/4 cup each of cilantro & mint
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp jalapeno chile, seeded and chopped
2 green onions, chopped
juice from 1 lime
1 cup of plain yogurt

Combine all of the ingredients except for the yogurt in a small blender. Take out and stir in the yogurt.

*If Making the Tzatziki Sauce 
1 medium cucumber, peeled, sliced in half, seeded and finely chopped
1/8 tsp plus 1/4 tsp salt
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp minced garlic
Put the cucumber in a strainer set over a bowl. Sprinkle with 1/8 tsp salt and drain for 1 hour. Put the yogurt in another strainer set over a bowl and drain for 1 hour. Combine the cucumber and yogurt ina bowl with the remaining ingredients and stir well. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

Both of the sauces we feature compliment the meat perfectly, but you can opt to use the pan drippings to make a gravy, or simply use the juices and pour them over the meat and veggies upon serving.

Caitlin: I listened to one of my favorite albums from Badly Drawn Boy - "Once Around the Block"
Monica:  I had to incorporate a Greek song into my playlist for this meal:
1) "Do You Like the Greece" Antonis Kalogiannis
2) "Hey You" Pink Floyd
3) "This is Radio Clash" The Clash
4) "The Best Is Yet to Come" Frank Sinatra
5) "Driving with Bert" Neil Halstead

Drink of Choice 
Caitlin: We had a nice Viogner from a local winery, which complimented the lamb perfectly.
Monica: Since I had a Greek meal, I had to have Greek wine - Restina.

A Recipe to Remember?
We both love this recipe!!!