Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Grilled Leg of Lamb

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This is not the leg of lamb I had intended to make for Easter. But since the weather here was unusually warm, I decided to set aside my friend Anna’s six-hour roast lamb recipe for one that wouldn’t heat up the house at all. It’s cooked on the grill, which seemed just right for a day when everyone wanted to be outdoors. Anna’s masterpiece will have to wait for a cooler day – and I’m sure there are bound to be more of those down the road.

This recipe is inspired by one in a Julia Child cookbook called Julia Child & Company. I’ve made it at least a dozen times and it’s like all of Julia’s recipes – delicious and fail-proof.  Julia labels the marinade as optional, but I’d say it’s crucial for the best flavor and tenderness. You don’t have to be exact in the measurements – it’s not like baking a cake. So if you want more soy sauce, more rosemary, less garlic or any other combination – just adjust to your preference.

One of the most crucial parts is to remove as much fat as possible from a boned leg of lamb.  It helps get rid of the sometimes “gamey” lamb taste. Have the butcher butterfly it also, which means that it will be spread out in a large piece and cook in half the time of a leg that’s not butterflied. Sometimes one or two of the pieces will separate and I just skewer them with some metal or wooden skewers. Even if the butcher has trimmed most of the fat, I usually have to remove even more fat at home as well. You can see the amount of fat I removed at left, and the marinating meat in the orange plastic container.

April 2010 003In Julia’s recipe, the meat sits in the optional marinade for at least an hour,  but I give it a couple of days minimum. I’ve even kept it in the marinade as long as four or five days and it develops even more flavor and becomes more tender.

Cook it on the grill at a high temperature to sear it first, then lower it to finish cooking. Bring it indoors and let it rest at least 15 minutes before slicing.

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If you don’t have a grill, Julia says you can roast it in the oven, then finish under the broiler. Instructions below.

Here are a few of the other things we served with it for Easter dinner:

Munchies with prosecco: Braided Easter Bread (fourth attempt in a week)

parmesan chunks with aged balsamic vinegar

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First course: springtime risotto (recipe to follow later)

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With the lamb (We sliced up only half the roast and it was plenty for seven people.)

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 wild mustard greens picked in a nearby field:

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baked stuffed potatoes (recipe to follow later)

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For dessert: fresh fruit macedonia and five-star almond cake


and of course, chocolate-covered Easter eggs:

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Boned and Butterflied Leg of Lamb

printable recipe here

1 boned and butterflied leg of lamb – about four or five pounds

(serves at least 12)


1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup soy sauce

juice of 1 lemon, plus grated peel

2 or 3 sprigs of rosemary

3 or 4 cloves garlic, mashed

Slash the lobes in 2 or 3 places, making long cuts about 1 1/2 inches deep; otherwise the thick pieces will take longer to cook than the rest. Then to keep the roast in shape, push long skewers through the wide sides of the meat, one through the top third, ad the other through the bottom third.
Rub the lamb with the marinade and keep it in fridge for as long as four or five days, turning over occasionally.
Cook on the grill, brushing with oil, for 30 to 45 minutes, turning every 5 minutes or so. Start it on high and sear it first, then lower to finish cooking.
For rosy red meat (med. rare), cook to 125 degrees on a meat thermometer. Remove lamb and let it rest for about 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.
To roast in the oven: place in a roasting pan in preheated 375 degree oven.  Roast for 20 to 25 minutes or until it reaches 120 degrees with a meat thermometer. Baste with oil and set for 2 to 3 minutes under a preheated broiler to brown lightly. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes before carving.


grilled lamb, barbecued lamb, Easter, risotto, mustard greens, baked stuffed potatoes


  1. Lamb is my favorite meat, I will follow your idea of marinating it, and let it sits for at least a day. Everything look scrumptious Linda.

  2. Everything looks beautiful!
    The mustard greens are so lovely, I am craving them (with the almond cake) at 8 a.m.!

  3. everything does look spectacular - your lamb - wow its perfect and I could so nibble on that cheese all day long!

  4. Ahhh more Easter lamb...could eat it all year' round. Hope you had a fab Easter!

  5. This puts the common spiral ham into the ho-hum category. I adore lamb, and I'm working on getting my husband to like it. This recipe looks like the way to do it. It is perfectly grilled. As for the rest of the dishes... beautiful! I just printed your almond cake recipe. I was just looking at a tube of almond paste, with a craving to bake something great. I can already imagine this, slightly warm, with a cup of dark roast coffee. mmm

  6. This would be one of my favorite dinners at any time...
    Grilled leg of lamb is at the top of the list...it all looks beautiful and delicious!

  7. GORGEOUS!! Everything is just amazing!! What a beautiful Easter celebration!


  8. I love the mustard greens. I need to go find some! and the parmigiano with balsamic. mmmm...

  9. What a beautiful menu Linda, the grilled lamb, the creamy risotto, the greens and that balsamic drizzled parmesan, not to mention the dessert! You must have had some happy guests!!!

  10. The weather was just perfect on Easter for grilling this lovely leg of lamb. The sides all look spectacular especially those fresh picked mustard greens. Your guests must have been thrilled with such a fabulous menu!

  11. Yes, yes,a thousand times yes. That is one succulent beauty. (And I'll take all the sides but I do love the first springtime risotto dish!). Cheers for your 4th braided bread! And dibs on the almond cake.

  12. This looks like an amazing way to enjoy lamb!

  13. I love grilled lamb! Very often I use a mixture of herbs, olive oil and balsamic vinegar as a marinade.

    Your Easter dinner looks scrumptious!

  14. What a lovely feast. I love that lamb recipe but I was as impressed by the sides you made to keep it company. It all look truly beautiful. I can imagine how wonderful all those flavors were to taste. This was really nicely done. I hope you were able to enjoy your guests. Have a grand day. Blessings...Mary

  15. A perfectly done leg of lamb is the best part of the Easter celebrations.

  16. Incredible Linda what can I say! I really appreciate all your work! what a beautiful day you had!

  17. Wow, a gorgeous meal! That lamb looks ridiculously good, as do those baked potatoes!! Happy Easter!

  18. Happy Easter! Looks like an incredible feast. I've never grilled lamb but keep thinking I'd like to try it some day.

  19. My husband loves a good leg of lamb and would definitely go for this recipe. I, on the other hand would be all for those stuffed potatoes!

  20. You went all out Linda! I would have stopped after the second time on that bread. You are a better person than I am.


  21. skiesbrava Linda questo agnello alla griglia é tra i miei piatti preferiti e qualche volta lo vado a mangiare in un paesino vicino alla toscana baci Lucia

  22. skiesbrava Linda questo agnello alla griglia é tra i miei piatti preferiti e qualche volta lo vado a mangiare in un paesino vicino alla toscana baci Lucia

  23. What gorgeous Easter food! That leg of lamb is cooked to perfection. I'm drooling...