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Apr 15, 2007 06:46 PM

Roast leg of lamb: bone in or boneless?


And while we're at it, with bread crumbs or without? And what about mustard?

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  1. Personally I prefer bone in for a roast leg of lamb. If I'm going to use boneless, then I roll it up with a filling of dijon mustard, parlsey, garlic and shallots. I've also used romano or parmesan in there too. But you have to be careful when you salt the meat - the cheese may be enough.

    For the bone in, I prick it all over making a ton of teeny slots to shove slivers of garlic in there. For a five pound roast I usually end up using about three or four cloves of garlic. I dust it with kosher salt and lots of fresh ground pepper - I think simple is the way to go. It truly makes the flavor of the lamb shine. I start it at high heat. About 450. Then after 15 minutes, turn it down to 350 and cook until medium-rare. Because the meat is not all even, you'll get areas that are rare, medium-rare, medium and well done - which is great if you're serving people with different temp. preferences.

    The only time I use bread crumbs on lamb is on a rack of lamb. But that's just my take on it.

    4 Replies
    1. re: bryan

      Great, this is helpful. I think I'm going to go with bone in, which sounds like a better presentation in any case. So what, the thickest part needs to register 135? I think I used mustard the last time I roasted a (boneless) leg of lamb, but I like the simplicity here. Any recipes for mint sauce to accompany? Thanks!

      1. re: Ethan N

        135 is good. It'll need to sit, covered, about 10-15 minutes before carving.

        Cannot help you with the mint sauce though. I'm a mint jelly gal.

        Good luck. Please let us know your results.

        1. re: bryan

          Smashing success. Bone in, seven pounds before the butcher trimmed it, a little over five and a half after he'd removed the aitch bone and some fat. (I had to tie some meat flaps together with some kitchen twine for presentation and even cooking.) Julia Child's mustard dressing applied a few hours before I popped the leg into the oven was delicious. Started at 425, lowered it to 325-350 after twenty minutes--took a little longer than I would have guessed, close to two hours to get the thickest part to 130 degrees. Did a terrible job carving the thing, but no one complained about the meat, which was incredible. Really easy, I'd definitely do this again.

          1. re: Ethan N

            I'm so glad it worked out for you. Sounds delicious.

    2. Bone is supposed to contribute flavor, but I usually get boneless because it is the least expensive form (under $4/lb for a shrinkwrapped one at Samsclub). A boneless leg can be marinated and roasted in the net, or opened up and grilled (butterflied). The last time I marinated it in a Yucatan style bast, and baked it covered in a dutch oven with banana leaves. More of a braise than a true roast, approximating Mexican barbacoa.

      Especially if roasting whole, invest in a remote thermometer; it takes a lot of the guess work out of cooking it to the right degree of doneness.

      One option with the boneless, is to apply the flavoring to the inside, and roll it back up and tie or reinsert in the netting. This would be especially good for seasoning that does not taste good if burnt (such as garlic).


      1. I agree with both bryan's and paulj's methods, and will add my own comments:
        1. I love bones, but it doesn't seem to make that big a difference w/ leg of lamb. Whole vs. butterfly makes a bigger difference.
        2. Whole gives more rare/medium rare slices, which is important to adults.
        3. Butterflied gives more cooked slices, which kids seem to prefer.
        4. Butterflied and segmented makes cooking faster, and allows me to treat each segment differently: mustard and rosemary on one; spice rub on another; tandoori on a third. Makes for a great "mixed" grill for both adults and kids.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Claudette

          I go with boneless either on the grill (butterflied) or rotisserie (flattened, whacked with a mallet to get about a 1.5 inch overall thickness and stuffed with whatever inspires me). I love bone in for roasting. Bryan's method is almost exactly mine. Then, deglaze the pan with stock (veal preferably, chicken if only available), and red wine, reduce it and finish with fresh rosemary, sliced kalamata olives and a good, big knob of butter.

        2. I've done both. I prefer bone in because I like lamb on the rare side and I worry about cooking a rolled boneless roast that was hacked into previously at some unknown time to anything less than medium -- and, as mentioned above, the presentation is better bone in.

          Seasonings, in any combination: garlic cloves (or halves or thirds if the cloves are large) shoved into little knife-pricked slots (basically as described by bryan, except that I use at least a head of garlic); salt (and / or soy sauce); pepper; dijon mustard; optional rosemary or sage. Salt is the only absolute requirement.

          1. dude, bone in. trim the fat off. kosher salt and fresh pepper. nothing else. cook it to about 140 degrees F. thats a leg of lamb!