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Jul 26, 2001 09:33 PM

Easy leg o' lamb

  • m

Grilling season is in full swing in the Bay Area. Last weekend a butterflied leg of lamb marinated in tomatillo salsa and grilled on the weber was the entree for a birthday dinner.

Perhaps heresy in Sonoma County, home of baby Sonoma lamb, the chef bought Australian lamb already butterflied at Costco. I think the sweet almost candied taste of Australian lamb might suit this treatment better than the more delicate flavors of Sonoma lamb. The other main ingredient was the bottled salsa verde from Trader Joe's. This is too watery to go well with anything else, but as my friend proved, it makes a great marinade imparting wonderful flavor and the slightest warmth.

To prep, all you have to do is insert some garlic slivers in the lamb and then marinate overnight in the refrigerator. A tip for the garlic step, use a sharp pointed knife to poke holes ALIGNED with the grain. As the meat cooks and shrinks, the garlic pieces will stay in place and not pop out.

The next day, wipe the butterflied leg dry, salt and pepper, and grill to your desired doneness. If you put this on your Friday shopping list, prep and marinate overnight, you'll have an easy dinner for Saturday.

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  1. I've been using the Costco Aussie lamb for years, and like it because its so small (and cheap!). I make a merlot and olive oil marinade, with mucho crushed garlic and rosemary, dry mustard ,spices etc. The Costco lamb is perfect to cut the ties, open up, and cut to flatten. After overnight marinating, fast cooking on a VERY hot grill does the trick. Even better is next day lamb pot pie with mushrooms.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jim H.

      Thanks for the grilling instructions. That's always the territory of males...I know nothing about cooking with fire.

      The Costo lamb is cheap and really good quality. I make the same marinade, except I prefer Zinfandel, and almost always serve Zin with grilled lamb. It has such an affinity with garlic and rosemary.

      Another tip on prep, I have metal skewers that I use to stabilize the butterflied leg and make it easier to turn. One can also use bamboo skewers that have been soaked in water.

    2. Hmm ... a few days ago it was Fenton's Black and Tans and Swiss Milk Chocolate ice cream. Just a few minutes ago I was reading the butcher shop leg of lamb ad and wondering if anyone here had good ideas for cooking one.

      It's clear: Melanie's been reading my mind!

      Both recipes sound great. Too bad my Sunday company is vegetarian.

      1. Speaking of leg of lamb, I have to recommend this recipe from the Food Network show Good Eats with Alton Brown. My husband and I love this quirky but informative show, and this leg of lamb recipe (Alton calls it The Silence of the Leg of Lamb) totally rocks! We tried it out on our gas grill the day after we saw the show (using whatever leg of lamb they had at Andronico's), and the meat was very tender, juicy, and flavorful. I do think one of the keys is the probe thermometer which ensures the meat is done just right. Here is the link to the recipe on the Food Network site:


        5 Replies
        1. re: Nancy Acton

          That looks really great! Yes, the internal temp. is so important. 135 F is rare, but it will continue to cook as it rests.

          I do find myself attracted to men with clip-on thermometers in their shirt pockets. (g)

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            You'd really love my husband then, Melanie. He has a thermometer for his bbq pit that has a transmitter that sends messages to him about the temp of the meat via a wireless receiver he can carry with him.

            1. re: Nancy Berry

              Ooooooh, baby! I just might need to give someone a gadget like that. Where can I buy one?

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                I bought the thermometer at Barbecues Galore in Palo Alto and then saw it in a combo package with a bbq fork for about half the price at Costco (sigh) -- I saw it in both the SF and South San Francisco Costco stores last week.

                1. re: Nancy Berry
                  Melanie Wong

                  Ah, but he was first on your block to have one.

                  Thanks, Nancy.