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A little lamb help, please!

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I'm going to roast a bit of lamb for Christmas dinner, but I'm at a loss as to the best way to go about it. I was going to use leg - should I go bone in or boneless? My husband has said he wants a "proper roast." He's British and very particular about these things. Crispy on the outside were his words...so I need help. I've never roasted lamb before, I've only used it in curries.

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  1. I'd definitely go with bone in, especially if proper is a key term. If he grew up with traditional lamb roasts, it is hard to beat salt and pepper and roasting at 350 until done, but if he will give a little here and there, poke slits in the fell and insert little wedges of garlic and rub a light coating of olive oil over it with some rosemary. Read about how to carve a leg of lamb unless he is proficient already and doing the honors.

    2 Replies
    1. re: tim irvine

      Thanks very much! I'll sneak in the garlic and rosemary - I have a thing for rosemary.

      1. re: bwelty

        A "proper" lamb roast is a thing of beauty and actually quite easy. Traditional roasts will have sliced garlic placed into slits all around the roast, and then massaged with a paste of olive oil, rosemary [minced finely] and salt. I suspect that some people also use black pepper, but my mother never did. She would then roast the lamb over cut potatoes and sometimes other root vegetables. We always had a bone-in roast.

        Generally, an English roast will not be served rare. Find a nice mint jelly or compote [try the Crosswell brand which is easy to find] and serve with a robust, dry red wine. If you have an older copy of the Joy of Cooking, any of those lamb roast recipes will work brilliantly.

        And in the perfect world, you will have leftovers to make a Shepard's Pie or some Meat pies.

    2. Bone in leg is the classic roast for we Britons, although I like a shoulder roast as well.

      To get the crispy fat , yet still moist meat, means you need to give the meat a good blast of heat at the beginning. Say 20 minutes at around 220, then reduce the heat to 160 and cook the joint for 15 minutes per 500g. Should come out nicely medium.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Harters

        H, I am assuming you mean centigrade vs Fahrenheit? If the OP lives in the US, start the roast at 425 for 20 min, reduce heat to 350 and cook 10 min per lb. more. A typical 6-7 lb. leg should be an hour 15. I would cook to 125 for med rare, with a 15-20 min rest, but that is a personal preference.

        Some more suggestions - a whole leg can present a few problems because of the triangular shape it cooks unevenly. You might ask the butcher to cut off the shank half, bone it and use for kebabs at a later date. This leaves you with a sirloin roast that is more even.

        Another suggestion, parboil some potatoes, and lay them directly under the roast. The drippings will perfume the potatoes and give you the best roasted potatoes. Season them with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and fresh rosemary.

        Personally, I like to butterfly a left of lamb so it looks like a big steak, marinate in a garlicky-mustardy vinaigrette and grill over high heat either indoor or even better, outside. But that probably isn't very British. But sure does taste good.

        1. re: Diane in Bexley

          Yes, my temperatures were centigrade/celsius. I think America and Belize are the only countries in the world still using fahrenheit.

          1. re: Harters

            We won't change until Belize does ;-)

            1. re: TroyTempest

              Damn those Belizians (?). Holding up world progress like this :-0

          2. re: Diane in Bexley

            "Some more suggestions - a whole leg can present a few problems because of the triangular shape it cooks unevenly...."

            To me, the unevenness is the beauty of a roast leg or other non-uniform roast. It means that there are some bits that are well-done and crispy and other bits that are more rare. It's a great way of pleasing a group because there will inevitably be those who prefer more well-done meat, those who hate well-done meat and those who love a mixture.

        2. Do any of you helpful folks have a good suggestion for a side dish involving corn to go with this? The reasson I ask is that I'm cooking for my 4 year old niece as well and I won't be shocked if the only thing she eats is the corn dish. At thanksgiving her parents put on a spread for 25 people with loads of food, and this kid literally just piled her plate with corn, and 3 blackberries! So I want to make something that she'll eat, but I won't to avoid just dumping some butter on corn. Can you tell I don't cook for children much?

          7 Replies
          1. re: bwelty

            'Fraid not. I never think of corn as going with lamb. Lamb is the sweetest of meats and I don't see the sweetness of corn working well with it.

            1. re: Harters

              That's what I was thinking, too, and I can't think of any way to un-sweeten in that a 4 year old would agree with. Maybe I'll just do the buttered corn thing and make her happy. While we're on it, what -does- go well? I have planned roasted parsnips and potatoes, along with brussel sprouts of some sort. I feel like a bit of a pain, but I've never done much with lamb!

              1. re: bwelty

                The best leg of lamb I've done was bone in, slathered with a garlic, rosemary, thyme, and mint paste, roasted on a rack above a bed of potatoes and (frozen TJ's) artichoke heart quarters. The meat drippings add lots of flavor to the veggies and I finished with freshly squeezed lemon juice.

                1. re: bwelty

                  The classic British accompaniments to a roast leg would be roast spuds, peas and mint sauce.

                  1. re: bwelty

                    Roasted tomatoes are yum.

                2. re: bwelty

                  Cornbread. Also, lamb with orzo. She might love the orzo but it will be cooked with the lamb.
                  Delicious.
                  http://www.food.com/recipe/arni-youve...

                  1. re: bwelty

                    How about a corn pudding with a little parmesan on top? Or roasted corn on the cob?

                  2. If you have a large enough lamb for leftovers save the gravy for a Navy style rice and curry, topped with crumbled bacon, fried onions, chopped peanuts, mustard pickle, mango chutney, coconut, watermelon pickle, sultanas, and whatever else sounds good.

                    1. I've been seeing mixed advice on if I should remove the fell or not. What are your thoughts?

                      1. Boneless and grilled flat, marinated with EVOO, garlic, lemon juice, garlic, fresh rosemary, salt, pepper. A careful eye to doneness and you can have it pink and nicely crisp outside. Easier to slice and less waste, too. This is Julia Child's old technique and it works.Roasted on the bone for a rookie(no offence) can go badly, ranging from incinerated, crisp outside and hemorrhaging near the bone, to blandly well done. Prime Ontario lamb isn't cheap in my 'hood and roasting seems a better treatment for "lamb" well on its way to adulthood.