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Help me, Obi-Chow Kenobi, you're my lamb roast's only hope!

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OK, it is time for me to pull up my big girl panties and figure out this meat roasting thing once and for all. Specifically lamb. Specifically for my crazy-mixed-up Schmassover/Weaster/Nothing In Particular dinner coming up in a few weeks. I'm fearless in the face of poultry of all sorts but this? Terrifying.

I know this is kinda down the pike a ways, but I need some moral support here. What do I even do? Where do I start? What do I look for? Bones, no bones, I mean my STARS this is complicated. And then how do I cook the damn thing? And what do I put on it? And how do I make sure it's not greasy, because I've had some nasty, greasy lamb in my day. And lamb is expensive, and I'm trying not to, like, completely freak out. But I want to do this. Seriously.

Help!

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  1. What kind of lamb "roast" are you talking about?

    1 Reply
    1. re: c oliver

      Yeah, that's kind of what I don't know. What do you recommend?

    2. Depends on the result you're after and how many people you're cooking for. I'm assuming you are talking Leg of Lamb. Whole or Half depends on how many servings you need.

      Boneless Lamb Leg Roasts are certainly easier both to cook and carve; a big consideration for your first effort. Bone-in leg of lamb presents tricky carving issues you may not wish to tackle. Plus there is the consideration of the roasting pan - do you have one large enough to fit a whole bone-in leg of lamb?

      Is Greek-style something you want to try, or just straight-up roast lamb?
      Think about that, and then take a look here for step by step directions.
      http://startcooking.com/blog/365/How-...

      1 Reply
      1. re: mcsheridan

        I've cooked lamb shoulder which was the best meat I've ever prepared. That's why I asked about the cut.

      2. I love to make bone in leg, marinaded Greek style: if you have trouble with the slicing, just serve with some pita bread and yogurt sauce. Everyone is always impressed at the presentation and the flavor, and it comes out perfectly done with very little effort. Have no fear!

        2 Replies
        1. re: coll

          i have made lamb leg sirloin cut on the gril. really simple to do. just marinate and truss and cook over indirect heat. I placed some rosemary sprigs on the coals for extra flavor on the crust. and used my thermometer to make sure i took it out 5 degrees before medium rare.

          the homemade pita is the deal breaker. so hearty and filling. I would go with some whole wheat flour and bake until almost done and transfer to grill for some smokeyness

          goodluck!

          1. re: coll

            I should also mention, if you or someone close to you has a dog, the lamb bone is quite a treat.

          2. from my top culinary idol:
            http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/dat...

            3 Replies
            1. re: epabella

              Hay? CRAZY. I love recipes like this... I imagine someone sitting around pondering lamb recipes and thinking, "Well, I DO have a barn full of hay handy..."

              1. re: LauraGrace

                i've never tried it being in the tropics but hay had it's it's heyday sometime in the 1800s. roasts were taken to hunts and picnics covered in hay to stay warm (napoleons cooks sent him his food this way as he commanded his armies). good hay is also supposed to impart a subtle earthy fragrance.

                1. re: LauraGrace

                  hey LauraGrace, seems this recipe i mentioned already has a chowhound thread:

                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/571917

              2. this might seem heretical to some, but i think one of the keys to enjoying preparation of a roast leg of lamb is a willingness to abandon hope of a uniform perfect doneness. i love leg of lamb--and prefer it with the central bone in. because such a roast is of uneven thickness it is simply true that it'll be more done in the thin parts than in the thick part. if your eaters can tolerate and enjoy this range, you're golden. if you anticipate a big fight for bright pink lamb, you might be better off to serve an entirely different cut--eg racks of lamb--or to cook a butterflied leg in a way that minimizes the difference in thickness.

                also, consider the number of eaters you'll be serving. i think cooks sometimes overestimate the number of folks that can be served by a leg of lamb. if you're serving, say, four, the fight for pink won't be as fierce as if you're serving six.

                in your original query you mentioned greasiness. heavy lamb fat is not only greasy, it can be appallingly bitter. no matter the cut or the strategy, you'll want to judiciously trim the meat--or ask your butcher's help in trimming it. ditch any fat that is hard or yellowish. some soft, white fat is fine, but you don't want large masses of it either.

                take your time when carving a leg of lamb. it is made up of several muscles--each with its own grain. you'll get better results if you carve muscle by muscle so you can go across the grain in each.

                ...and by the way, slow braised lamb shanks are absolutely delicious and almost fool proof. they're less "springy" than other preparations but generate no cook's anxiety--no worries about doneness, no worries about carving, no acute worries about timing the side dishes.

                1 Reply
                1. re: silverhawk

                  Bless you, silverhawk -- this is just what I was looking for. I think in my crowd there are enough non-foodies and rare-o-phobes that there wouldn't be much of a squabble over the rarer bits.

                  Please, keep it coming! I'm just dying to master this skill!

                2. I buy boneless leg at Costco, butterfly it, do an Asian marinade and then cook on the grill. I also recently found a lamb shoulder that I did low and slow after browing that was to die for.

                  1. I think the CI slow roast eye round recipe would do a great job on butterflied leg of lamb, if you want pink.

                    1. The best trick for a well cooked roast is to use digital meat thermometer. With the probe well placed inside the meat you can be sure it will cook the the desired doneness every time. The digital ones are better in my opinion because you can put the probe in the meat, the meat in the oven then put the digital display on the counter. You won't have to open the oven to check on the temperature like you have to do with a dial thermometer. Just remember to put it in the thickest part of the meat and do not have it touching the bone or it will give uneven results.

                      Once the doneness is perfected the seasoning, is something of personal taste and practice.

                      1. a few more thoughts--once you decide you're comfortable cooking a leg, decide if you're comfortable leaving the shank bone in. i think the bone adds taste and makes the roast prettier. as i said earlier, it does create a tapered shape so the internal temp of the roast will vary, end to end, whenever you remove it from the heat.

                        the remaining questions are pretty straightforward. how to get some external color, how hot to set the oven, when is the roast done, how to season.

                        in general, you'll want to cook the roast pretty hot for 20 minutes or so to get some browning. then turn down the heat--or move to a cooler oven to finish roasting. try 435 for 20 minutes then 350 until done. a 6-7 lb roast left whole will take maybe 1:45--but go by internal temp, not time.

                        i want the biggest part of a leg to be bright pink; this'll make the narrow part of the roast med or even a bit past. this means that the roast should come out when the internal temp of the largest part is 130F--or even a little less. it should rest under loose foil for something like 15-20 minutes before carving. during this period, the internal temp will coast up another 8-10 degrees. the end temp for a pretty standard light pink medium is around 145 so adjust the pull-out temp accordingly, allowing for the coast up while resting, and recalling that the more toward medium the thick part gets, the more past medium the thin part gets.

                        pretty standard seasonings for a leg include rosemary, lemon, garlic and olive oil, salt, pepper. sometimes parsley, sometimes thyme. some folks sliver the garlic and insert it into tiny slits in the meat--so that it doesn't get bitter. it works fine to make a thickish slurry out of the fresh herbs, lemon and oil and then to indulge yourself by rubbing it all over the roast with your hands.

                        most published recipes suggest that a 6-7 lb leg serves 6-8. i guess this is true, but i think 8 is quite a stretch, honestly. i am much more comfortable imagining six. well, truth to tell, i prefer to serve 4 because i love lamb leftovers--particularly lamb hash.