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Feb 6, 2013 11:58 AM

A perfect leg of lamb to rival my first turkey made perfect by Chowhounders?

I have made leg of lamb before when I was much more of a cooking novice. It was good. Last time I used a simple marinade of olive oil, Dijon mustard, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper and roasted and it was great but was a trial by fire effort without an actual thermometer so I'd like to keep the same flavors and focus on the preparation and roasting effort. It will be a boneless leg butterflied and likely rolled in twine which I'd like to roast in the oven to rare/medium rare (no access to a grill).

For New Year's, I requested advice with my first turkey and produced what might possibly be the best turkey I have ever had and so would love some advice here as I'm sure you all have the secrets to another great meal equivalent to the greatness of that New Year's turkey.

Do you marinate or just season right before? How long?

What temperature? What's a good final temperature for medium rare? Low and slow was recommended for the turkey and although I was hesitant roasting at 250 for 5-6 hours was highly successful.

How long to rest?

Any good au jus recipes?


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  1. I've been using one of Julia Child's recipes for years. Similar to the rub you used but has the following:

    Olive Oil
    Soy Sauce

    I let it marinade over night and then cook in a 350 - 375 oven until I get a reading of 135 - 140. This will give me rare to medium rare. Tent and let sit for 20 - 30 minutes prior to carving.

    4 Replies
    1. re: mike0989

      Any idea about quantities? Well particularly the soy sauce.

      1. re: fldhkybnva

        Do you happen to have an Amazon Prime account? I ask because they have episodes of Child's The French Chef, and you can watch them for free if you have a Prime account ($1.99 an episode if you don't). In Season 7 Episode 6 "Waiting for Gigot", she made a leg of lamb, I just watched it the other day.

        1. re: juliejulez

          I do not, but should as I order from them all the time but always seem to argue against a Prime account for some reason. Perhaps I'll give it a look see anyway, thanks for the recommendation.

      2. re: mike0989

        The first four ingredients plus lemon juice and any herb you choose is a staple marinade for pretty much anything.

      3. Try this recipe:
        As indicated, it does not taste fishy at all, just very flavorful.

        5 Replies
        1. re: boredough

          Can I substitute anchovy paste for the anchovies?

          1. re: boredough

            This recipe is AMAZING! The lamb turned out wonderful. Thank you so much, I think this is my go to from now on.

            1. re: fldhkybnva

              It is so hard to get people to try this - but once they do, wow!
              So glad to have another person love this recipe. It works well for chops too.

              1. re: fldhkybnva

                Sooo glad it was a hit! Thanks for reporting back.

            2. If you have anchovy-phobic eaters, make some tapenade and serve it on the side.

              15 Replies
              1. re: sr44

                Yea, I'll probably have a few of those including myself as I've never had anchovies I don't think but if you can't taste it...

                1. re: fldhkybnva

                  Only as "whoa! Yummy!!!"

                  Start slowly. White anchovies are way easier to eat if you aren't anchovy friendly, but also more expensive. In any case, start with 1 or 2 and proceed slowly. Asian fish sauce can inch you forward.

                  Or bite the bullet a week before and let'r'rip.

                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                    For what it's worth, we served the leg of lamb/anchovy dish to an anti-anchovyist

                    1. re: boredough

                      (I don't know why my other message didn't post correctly - & I can't correct it - but here's what I meant to say:)
                      For what it's worthy, we served the leg of lamb/anchovy dish to an anti-anchovyist , and she couldn't tell. (She's not allergic; she just doesn't like anchovies. We were pretty sure she would not be able to identify the ingredient, having made the dish before. We confessed after she ate - and enjoyed - it.)

                      1. re: boredough

                        I often add anchovies to recipes because it adds umami. On their own, anchovies have a, well, anchovy taste. But cut into recipes, anchovies add umami, savoriness. Adding umami to lamb is like adding bacon to pork. Yum. And Yum.

                    2. re: fldhkybnva

                      You do not taste the anchovies, it makes an excellent roast leg of lamb.

                    3. re: sr44

                      I've used that recipe for years. The anchovies melt into umami bliss. No hint of fish taste. The only worry would be allergies.

                      Once I tried this recipe I've seldom cooked lamb any other way!

                      1. re: meatn3

                        You're tempting me more and more.

                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                          It sounded very odd to me initially. I couldn't wrap my head around the flavor. Which is why I eventually had to make it!

                          I love lamb and have it at least every other month if not more. This has become my favorite method. It is better with a moderately priced anchovy vs a super inexpensive one. I like a small bottled brand where the anchovies are rolled up. (I'm out of town, so can't look in the fridge to see the label.) They usually sell for around $3 - $5 depending on the market.

                        2. re: meatn3

                          Meatn3, this will be my first time cooking lamb. I love anchovies, so would be very appreciative if you would share the recipe you use.

                          1. re: Wtg2Retire

                            I am not Meatn3 but since you got no response so far.... I think everyone is talking about and making this recipe:

                            Haven't tried it but put it into my pepperplate to try soon - sounds delicious!

                            1. re: herby

                              Yes - that's the recipe!

                              Wtg2Retire - sorry. It's been a busy week and I had not seen your post. Luckily herby had the link!

                              Hope you both enjoy it. I use the "marinade" on lamb chops too.

                              1. re: herby

                                that's the same recipe I posted on Feb 7 ( I did not reply to Wtg2Retire's request of 3/26 since I thought he/she would eventually 'see' it...) Anyway please report in when/if you make it!

                              2. re: Wtg2Retire

                                Thanks herby, meatn3, and boredough. Unfortunately, I ended up cooking a ham (family, you know). But now that I have this recipe for lamb, I will try it when family is not coming over.

                                1. re: Wtg2Retire

                                  Thank you so very much, Meatn3 and Herby.

                            2. Do you au jus or gravy? I know many prefer it sans sauces but the opinion was always torn in my house and we seemed to always have lamb served with both

                              1. I'll let others recommend and debate marinades....

                                Low and slow @ 200-225*.....under 4 pounds, about 3-3.5 hours. Over 4 pounds.....3.5-4 hours....for a target temperature of 125-135*

                                Brown on the stove....or for the first 20 minutes in the oven at 450*.....then refer to above.

                                I recommend a two hour the oven @ 140* or covered outside of the oven. When roasting, rotate the roast and the roasting pan halfway through for even cooking.

                                BTW....low and slow works for most meats and roasting....i.e, turkey, pork, lamb and the basic guidelines are the same. I do not care for the low and slow method when roasting chicken though....smoking yes, roasting no.

                                38 Replies
                                1. re: fourunder

                                  aha!! I was waiting for fourunder to enter the discussion. I think you were responsible for my ever so delicious turkey!

                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                    There's a reason he's the Dean of the Chowhound School of Meat Roasting.

                                    For what it's worth, the classic meat roasting temperature was 325. You'll sometimes see old recipes for leg of lamb suggesting similar times to those listed by fourunder but at the significantly higher temp. The result was a dreadful grey rump and I'm pretty sure it's why a generation grew up hating lamb. It was said that lamb should be cooked "until the smoke reached up to God."

                                    Personally, when I do lamb on the offset,* I'll try to keep the temp around 225-250. Low and slow oven cooking is pretty much the same as traditional barbecuing techniques. A hotter cook, more of an indirect grill than a smoke, can also produce great results with smaller cuts. It does require more skill and attention though.

                                    *I realize this is a bit outside the OP, but may be relevant in other ways.

                                    1. re: MGZ

                                      Nope, well within the kind of information I was looking for as it was this kind of discussion that gave me the confidence to do low and slow for the turkey at I still can't stop thinking about how juicy, moist and delicious it was.

                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                        Terrific. I've got a hunch your lamb is going to be great. One thing about this Site, there's plenty of folks who have, as they say, "broken a few eggs" and are willing to share the lessons earned.

                                      2. re: MGZ

                                        250* is the temperature most Commercial Kitchens will this is what is recommended by the equipment manufacturers like Alto-Shaam... I would consider 275-300* to be the setting dividing low temperature and moderate temperature roasting.

                                        When time is a factor, I certainly would use 250-275, but I'm a guy who has too much time on his hands to begin with so I can allow for the extra roasting, I have no fear of placing a roast in the oven in the morning or overnight and leaving it unattended....again unlike many here on CH seem to believe the house will burn down. The noticeable differences I can see between 225 and 250 are....with 250, a little better browning and faster cooking.....with 225, slightly less shrinkage for ....both are moist and tender. It really is a toss up and just a personal preference which one you ultimately decide to use.

                                        1. re: fourunder

                                          Yes, I took the leap of faith with your method at New Year's and while it did feel somewhat odd to just have the bird hanging out in there all day, the result was well worth the calculated risk.

                                      3. re: fldhkybnva

                                        Hey! I'm the only 'low and slow' in the village'!
                                        Warning. Mature content.

                                      4. re: fourunder

                                        I agree with you regarding low and slow....and I also agree with you that is NOT the method to be used for chicken or poultry.

                                        My question is what is your reason behind it for chicken? Is it because of the out come not being good -or- health concerns regarding chicken remaining in the danger zone of temps?

                                        1. re: jrvedivici

                                          To me, it has to do most with the density of the meat. As chickens are hollow and have little pockets of muscle, I find that too low a temp leaves them rather spongy. Moreover, since crispy skin is the best part of a hen, low and slow doesn't satisfy. Even on the offset, I prefer to hit 350 to 375 for the cook. I get a juicy bird with crunchy skin and enough smokiness to make it barbecue. (For what it's worth, maple and/or fruit woods are best).

                                          Health concerns have never entered my mind.

                                          But, then again, what do I know, I'm merely an Associate.

                                          1. re: jrvedivici

                                            My general rule for turkey.....

                                            14 pounds and under....275*

                                            Over 14 pounds.......225*

                                            I do not have the food concerns most here on chowhound adhere to..

                                            Food sitting out too long


                                            food storage

                                            RE-Freezing food than has be frozen

                                            Under cooking chicken or pork

                                   , *No* to the health concerns. What MGZ describes as ^Spongy*, what comes to mind for me is *Rubbery*. in the end, it comes down to texture and it is just plain unenjoyable and the outcome is not good. While others will say the Zuni Cafe or Thomas Keller approach is best with high heat of 450* or above, I prefer to roast my chickens at 375*...I think it gives the best combination for tender cooked white and dark meat....not favoring one over the other, and closet to a Rotisserie Bird. I will also note that I always try to select chickens for roasting at 3.5 pounds or under. I'll go up to 4.5 pounds, but never over that weight turkey, I'd rather cook two smaller birds than one large one.

                                            1. re: fourunder

                                              Yeah, "rubbery" is probably a better descriptor. I find that, on the offset, if I use a traditional barbecue temp the bird is kinda limp. It does work, however, for wings or legs that get a deep fry after the smoke.

                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                ...a deep fry after the smoke.

                                                I've been hearing a lot of great things about Korean and Chinese Style Fried Chicken.....crispy coating and very tender chicken.....made with a pre-baked or Rotisserie style chicken. I don't deep fry much at I'll have to search out the dish at a nearby Korean Restaurant in Palisades Park....Baden Baden

                                                1. re: fourunder

                                                  Fourunder, you definitley need to try Korean Fried Chicken, try Momofuko Noodle Bar, ridiculously good. I know this is off topic, but the least I can do to pay back all the roasting knowledge I have gotten from you.


                                                  Reservations are tough to get, good luck.

                                            2. re: jrvedivici

                                              That theory has been debunked. How do you explain the world wide acceptance of 'SV' by every food scientist etc. visa vi 'danger-zones'.

                                            3. re: fourunder

                                              I will use my lovely thermometer but any estimate on approximate minutes/lb. It's only 2 of us so I picked up a butterflied leg which is 1.6ish pounds. I will probably roll so the thickness will be similar to a non-butterflied leg I assume. I just wanted to gauge when I should throw it in the oven.

                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                Figure a minimum 3 hours total time. 2 hours to roast, 1 hour to hold. If the meat comes to temperature sooner than expected, then you just have a positive unexpected result and can allow for the longer resting period.

                                                If you are shooting for should probably take 90+ minutes.....based on the 45-50 minute guideline @ 225*....but bear in mind, each piece of meat has it's own mind and characteristics. I would sear on top of the stove. No need to bring the roast to room temperature. The quick sear will do that for you..

                                                1. re: fourunder

                                                  And hold in the oven right rather than covered in foil on the counter? My oven only goes down to 170F. Sear on all "4 sides" 2 minutes? Do you roast uncovered, roasting rack? Can I just plop it in my cast iron skillet and put in the oven?

                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                    170* ...I would crack the oven door open slightly

                                                    When roasting, I prefer to use a rack, but you can cook directly on a pan or in a fry pan/cast ion pan. with low temperature roasting though, the high sides may affect the roast a little bit....that's why a shallow side is preferred.

                                                    In general, I do not like to use a cast iron pan in the oven and I am not as enamored as others with using it for anything other than high heat roasted chicken. I do not care for it especially when used for a steak. the pan retains too much heat and it can easily overcook the steak in a matter of a minute.

                                                    Small roast, you could probably get away with a minute on each depends mostly on how you like the appearance of the roast....It's been debunked that searing keeps the juices in the roast...however, the food police have brought to attention the surface area of the meat need to be brought past (145?) to kill off any bacteria.

                                                    Always roast uncovered....

                                                    1. re: fourunder

                                                      Perfect! I plan to cook to 120F which should give a nice medium rare.

                                                  2. re: fourunder

                                                    No issues if I rest the smaller sized roast at 170* with door propped for the full 2 hours?

                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                      I would have no are maintaining a warm oven above 125* without a draft.....better than on the counter which would have a draft. covering with foil would steam the roast.

                                                      I think you could bring the roast higher...even to 130. !20 is on the low side and close to, not pink/red....but ultimately my decision would depend on the thickness of the roast 2 inches opposed to say 3 inches. For a smaller roast, i would probably deem 90 minutes sufficient to rest.

                                                      1. re: fourunder

                                                        3 inches so I'll roast until 130* and then hold it for 90 minutes or so. In no rush, on call until late so it's a midnight lamb.

                                                    2. re: fourunder

                                                      Fourunder I plan to make another boneless leg of lamb tonight - butterflied, rolled and tied. It's only a lb and so while the last effort was delicious, I just had a few quick questions which might make it even better. I imagine it won't take too long at 225F (estimate an hour-ish total cooking time). I'd like to get a better browned exterior, would it be OK to turn on the broiler after it's at temperature for 10 minutes? Also, dinner is on a schedule tonight so I can't hold it indefinitely, what's the minimum time you'd hold a small roast like this - 30 minutes or so? Thanks.

                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                        I think you could certainly have an enjoyable roast with a shorter resting time....I just feel the longer the rest, the less chance for bleeding.

                                                        20-30 minutes is the minimum rest I would do for a roast.

                                                        To get a better charred crust or browned exterior...I would do two things....brush with oil and get it as close to the heat source as possible.....there will be sizzle and splatter though. The other choice is to throw it into a very hot pan or sizzle plate....but then be prepared for smoke.

                                                        1. re: fourunder

                                                          Thanks. Is the bleeding you're referring to the leakage of fluid from within the muscle?

                                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                            Yes....whatever ends up on the cutting board or plate after the meat is sliced.

                                                          2. re: fourunder

                                                            Thank you once again, it was fabulous and a big thank you to all who recommended the Epicurious recipe. I just have a quick question for next time - even though I do the low and slow and it comes out at 130F and is a nice pink, it tends to be chewy on the outside. Is that normal or is there anything to fix that? It's pretty well trimmed when I roll.

                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                              The only negative I can think of for the low and slow method of cooking the experience you mention of dry and chewy meat. This usually only happens on larger roasts though, not small ones.....the result of slow cooking can cause the exterior of the meat to be like jerky.. To remedy this, I pan sear all smaller roasts ....or do a high heat blast @ the beginning @ 450* for 20-30 minutes on larger roasts, depending on size or meat cut.

                                                              1. re: fourunder

                                                                Yea, that's exactly it the outside is like jerky, the inside is nice and tender. It makes sense now that you point that out.

                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                        Not the Leg...but Shoulder, Breast or Shank

                                                        1. re: fourunder

                                                          Great, thanks. If I were to roast again would you suggest boneless or bone-in if you have any preference that is.

                                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                            When it comes to the question of which is better, bone-in or boneless, it comes down to presentation for me....and or convenience. For those who say the meat is better off the bone, I say good for you, but I really cannot say I can tell any difference. I order one bone-in all the time, but I like to gnaw on the bones. While a Holiday Roast is always more impressive carved off the bone, it's a whole lot easier slicing a rolled boneless roast. I believe the rolled roast also offers the advantage of seasoning and stuffing with whatever herbs or aromatics you's also easier to pre-cook and throw on the grill to heat up and put some char or a crust on.

                                                            Last, by boning out the leg, you can start making a stock for gravy or deglazing the roasting pan for pan juices.

                                                            1. re: fourunder

                                                              Thanks for the information, I guess one last quick question: how is a butterflied leg different than a boneless leg? I've never been able to figure that out for some reason. It is just that it's scored to attempt to make it even thickness throughout?

                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                Essentially, you have correctly identified the difference of the two.....the only real difference is that you would roll and tie a roast, where as with a butterflied cut, you do not need to and you could also broil or grill quickly as is..

                                                      2. re: fourunder

                                                        Rest of TWO HOURs outside the oven? Wouldn't that be totally room temp? Lamb is about the only meat I don't eat at room temp. It's the fat.

                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                          The answer depends on how you hold the roast.

                                                          inside the oven @

                                                          outside the oven in an insulated cooler, not so much.

                                                          outside the oven covered tightly in foil, yes there will be a drop in temp.

                                                          outside the oven loosely tented or not covered, yes, it may end up @ room temperature

                                                          * while I recommend a two hour rest, I also recommend 30 minutes before serving, you replace the roast in the oven @ 250 for 20 minutes followed by a 8-10 minute high heat blast....with those steps, the meat will be sufficiently hot for serving.