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Leg of Lamb with Garlic and Rosemary

Because a bone-in leg of lamb requires no basting and cooks in less than 2 hours, it is an ideal cut for grill roasting and is an easy main course for company. Before roasting, the leg is salted and allowed to rest in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours to develop flavor. Garlic slivers pushed into the meat and a savory rub of rosemary, juniper berries and pepper enhance the taste. The rosemary in the rich brown sauce echoes the herb in the rub. Ask your butcher to remove the hipbone and tailbone for easier carving, but do not have him or her crack the shank, as it provides a convenient handle for holding the roast while carving.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bone-in whole leg of lamb, 6 to 7 lb.
  • 1 Tbs. kosher salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, cut into slices 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 tsp. peppercorns
  • 12 juniper berries
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  •  

For the sauce:

  • 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, minced
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 3 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
  • 2 tsp. beef demi-glace
  • 3 Tbs. dry Madeira or port
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

Using a sharp knife, trim the leg of lamb of all but a very thin layer of fat. Using kitchen string, make 2 or 3 ties at the top of the leg where the hipbone has been removed, to hold the meat in a compact package. Rub the salt all over the leg, place on a rimmed baking sheet or pan, and refrigerate, uncovered, for 24 to 36 hours. Remove the lamb from the refrigerator about 2 hours before cooking.

Prepare a gas or charcoal grill for indirect grilling over medium-low heat (325°F). Generously oil the grill rack.

Using the tip of a sharp knife, cut small slits, each about 3/4 inch deep, all over the meaty part of the leg, spacing them 2 to 3 inches apart. Push a garlic slice into each slit. In a spice grinder, combine the peppercorns and juniper berries and grind to a medium coarseness. In a small bowl, stir together the pepper mixture, rosemary and olive oil. Rub the mixture all over the lamb.

Place the lamb on the grill rack away from the heat source and cover the grill. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the lamb, away from the bone, registers 125° to 130°F for rare to medium-rare, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. (If using a charcoal grill, add more coals 1 or 2 times to maintain the proper temperature.) Transfer the lamb to a carving board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: In a saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the shallots and sauté until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rosemary and broth, increase the heat to medium-high and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve placed over a bowl. Discard the contents of the sieve. Using a large spoon, skim the fat off the surface, then return the liquid to the pan and place over medium heat. Add the demi-glace and Madeira and stir well. Place the butter and flour in a small bowl and mix together with a fork to make a beurre manié. Reduce the heat to low, whisk the beurre manié into the liquid a little at a time and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; keep warm.

Carve the lamb into slices. Transfer the slices to a warmed platter or individual plates. Spoon a little sauce over the slices and pass the remaining sauce at the table. Serves 8.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Roasting, by Rick Rodgers, Melanie Barnard, Bob & Coleen Simmons, Tori Ritchie & Amanda Haas (Oxmoor House, 2009).