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Aug 31, 2013 09:24 AM

Getting a Crispy Nice Crust on a Leg of Lamb

Most of the recipes call for the lamb to be covered during most of the cooking process. I'm looking for the timing and temp to get the really nice crust you get in a good restaurant lamb. Thanks for all suggestions.

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  1. Most recipes I see do not have the lamb covered. Therefore you get a good colour on the fat. The only time I'd cover up is iif we were doing a long, low temperature roast (which would be a rarity).

    Our standard timing would be to give it 20 - 30 minutes at 220C and then turn it down to around 160 and cook it for 12 minutes per 500g. That'll give a perfect pink in the middle of the meat.

    190 for 30 minutes per 500g will get you similar general results but, to my mind, not as crisp an exterior.

    1. Cover the lamb? Never seen that.... Harter's leg method is very similar to the one I use [when not using the grill] and gives you that lovely crust every time.

      1. It probably would help folks help you determine the best method if you told us here at what temperature and for how long your recipe calls for the lamb to cook.

        That being said, I can think of a couple different things you can do to improve the crustiness of your lamb leg. Assuming you have a skillet big enough, or your roasting pan can be used on the stove, you can brown the outside of the leg of lamb in a mixture of olive oil and butter. Remove the leg from the refrigerator at least a half hour to an hour in advance, pat it dry, and remove all surface water, and then brown at high heat. This will render some of the fat in advance and start the Maillard reaction, which will produce flavor compounds. Use convection, if you have it, the fan blows the hot air across the surface of the fat, which is good for crust formation, plus you can reduce the temperature 50 degrees, so you use less energy. Then when you take it out of the oven to baste, check, turn it, whatever you need to do, baste the leg in melted butter. This not only adds flavor, but animal based fats will also increase the crispyness of the crust (yes, there's obviously already animal based fats present in the leg, but in my experimentation, the extra fat brushed on the surface really helps with the browning and crispness).

        2 Replies
        1. re: ePressureCooker

          Assuming the leg hasnt been trimmed to death, then there should be enough fat rendering out of it to be able to baste.

          1. re: Harters

            That's true, too, but I also like the butter flavor. ;D

        2. We butterfly a leg, marinate and cook on the grill. Wonderful medium rare meat and plenty of crunchies.

          1 Reply
          1. Most of the covered recipes were on Youtube. My plan is to make some slits insert fresh sliced garlic, and marinate the leg over night with EVOO, lemon juice, fresh oregano, fresh thyme, & fresh rosemary, and salt. The lamb will be 5-6 lbs, bone in. I have a rack I can put it on, but you think I should sear it 1st before roasting? Do I need to warn the butcher not to trim it muc? I haven't made a lamb since I was about 16...And that a long long time ago! Thanks

            7 Replies
            1. re: michele cindy

              Here are three recipes from Mark Bittman for bone-in, oven roasted legs.


              1. re: c oliver

                The herb paste recipe sounds good. I saw the addition of anchovy in a few recipes, it seems like a good move.

              2. re: michele cindy

                If you add some salt to the marinade you plan to use overnight, it will help make the meat more tender (salt helps break down the protein molecules) - it will also get deeper into the meat and flavor it inside.

                Leaving the leg uncovered, on a rack, in the refrigerator overnight will also help dry out the outside of the leg, which will help in forming the crust.

                  1. re: michele cindy

                    Glad to hear the lamb came out so well, and you were pleased with the results! (Looks delicious.)

                    1. re: ePressureCooker

                      Thanks again for the tips. Not trying to brag, but I have to say it was one of the best I have had.