Spring has totally sprung here in Maryland. The temperatures are nice and warm most days, and we’re getting daily rain showers – perfect for new grass but not so great for taking our new dog for a walk. Oh yeah, we got a new dog. I’m not sure why we didn’t earlier; having a dog around has basically doubled my time outside, guaranteeing that I go on daily walks and hiking on the weekends.
Roasting a leg of lamb is a spring tradition in many cultures, particularly surrounding Easter and Passover. While roasting a leg of lamb may sound intimidating, it’s one of the easiest roasts to get right. The meat is naturally tender, so no marinating is required – in fact, marinating is often discouraged since adding acid would denature the tender meat.
As my friend Chef Schneller (who I met while touring the Culinary Institute of America last year) points out, the term “spring lamb” refers to a lamb born in the spring and eaten in the summer. Lambs sold in the early spring are typically from a particular breed (English Dorset) that are born in the fall, milk-fed through the winter, and feed on young grass before slaughter. Generally, a lamb is around six months old when slaughtered, although any sheep under a year old is classified as lamb.
The key to a great roast lamb is its internal temperature; it needs little else other than to be taken out of the oven at the right time. While I typically use this quick-read thermometer to periodically check on the roast, I was asked by iDevices to try their new Kitchen Thermometer. I enjoyed the convenience of this little gadget; it syncs with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch (Android support coming soon), and lets you track the progress of your dinner without having to open the oven door.
Since we were entertaining guests while the lamb was roasting, it was nice to set it to my desired internal temperature and let it notify me when dinner was ready. This Kitchen Thermometer in particular has two probes, which would be good when roasting poultry; for a simpler approach, they also will be selling a Kitchen Thermometer Mini, which has only one probe (and is at half the price of the original), starting next month.
Roasted Leg of Lamb
1 bone-in leg of lamb (~5 lbs)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp olive oil
1. One hour before cooking, take the lamb out of the fridge and allow to come to room temperature.
2. Preheat your oven to 450F. Combine the garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, and rosemary. With a sharp knife, cut slits all over the lamb, then rub all over with olive oil. Rub the garlic and spice mixture evenly over the lamb.
3. Place the lamb in a roasting pan, meaty side up, and bake for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 325F and continue to roast until the lamb reaches your desired temperature: 130F for Medium Rare, 140F for Medium. We roasted ours to 135F so that it was mostly pink and a tiny bit bloody. It took an additional hour for ours to come to temperature.
4. Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes before carving. To carve, make cuts every 1/4″ or so perpendicularly along the leg down to the bone, then cut along the bone to remove everything in one fell swoop. From there, carve off any remaining meat from the bone.
Ready for the oven.
Here’s a picture of our new dog, Momo (“Peach” in Japanese), and our son Oliver doing his best Glamour Shots impression. Momo is a two-year-old rescue, half Boston Terrier and half Beagle (I refuse to say “Boglen Terrier” or Boggle”).