Monday, March 24, 2008

Grilled Lamb

I understand lamb may not be a flavor everyone knows or loves. I get that. Still, I think it's wrong. Perhaps you've never tried it because it sounds a bit different. Maybe you've had it once, and you were expecting it to taste just like beef, so it threw you off, and now you think it's just not for me. Well, keep this in mind: you may be wrong. It could be that when you have perfectly prepared lamb, you will love it. In fact, I think you should try this recipe just to find out.

For Easter, we had a lovely dinner:

salad with tomatoes, feta, and vinaigrette
potato gratin (half recipe)
roasted asparagus
grilled leg of lamb
lemon pound cake with sugared strawberries

It was so nice that Mark promptly took over clean-up duty. That definitely means it was a success.

There are three main aspects of the lamb that help to create the wonderful, finished result: the marinade, the butterfly, and the grill.

First, the marinade. It's a yogurt-based marinade, which really tenderizes the meat, and it's filled with garlic, rosemary, and pepper to settle those flavors into the meat before cooking.

Next, the butterfly. A boneless leg of lamb usually comes tied up; remove the string and slice the larger portions of the meat in half width-wise, leaving them attached, in a way that will allow you to set the entire piece of lamb on the grill without pieces overlapping. The benefit of having your lamb butterflied is that it will cook consistently, rather than leaving you with some rare portions while others are well-done. You do want the whole thing to be cooked just right, so you don't have to fight over the best pieces.

Lastly, the grill. There's something about the smokiness of grilling lamb that pairs so well with the slightly tangy flavor of the meat. Grilling mellows out the robust aspects of the meat, in a similar way as it does a good steak. While we debated whether to oven roast or grill, it really was no difficult decision. I think most meat is better grilled, but lamb is top on my list for how much better it is grilled.

Grilled Leg of Lamb with Rosemary Salt
adapted from Gourmet magazine via

1 4-to-6 lb. leg of lamb, butterflied
1 1/4 c. plain yogurt (lowfat works fine if you've got it sitting around for smoothies)
7 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 1/2 T. coarsely chopped rosemary
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt

for Rosemary Salt:
1 t. finely chopped rosemary
1 T. Kosher salt or flaky sea salt

Combine the yogurt, garlic, rosemary, and pepper in a large dish. Place the lamb in the dish and rub the marinade all over to coat thoroughly. Cover, refrigerate, and marinade 4-5 hours, turning once or twice.

Prepare the grill to medium high heat. Remove the lamb from the marinade and discard the marinade. Lay the meat out and run a few skewers through it to make it easier to turn and manage on the grill. Salt the lamb on both sides, then grill, turning a few times, for 20-35 minutes, depending on the thickness of your meat.

Remove it from the grill when it nears the temperature at which you like your lamb done (it will increase in temperature another few degrees during the resting period). We took ours off at 143˚, and it was just right for us - medium - pink through all of the middle with no sign of red. Most people do prefer medium rare, in which case you should remove the meat at about 135˚. Place on a platter and cover with foil. Let it rest for 5 or 10 minutes.

Combine the rosemary and salt. Slice and serve the lamb with rosemary salt. Store leftovers uncut in a container for up to 3 days (if they last).


Anonymous said...


Alaskan Dave Down Under said...

Lamb is so common down here. I wish I could do the roasts on the grill (cus you're right, grilled meat does taste better) but the rest of the family likes there's oven roasted and well done (ugh!).

Definitely spot on with resting the lamb after cooking. Aussies use a rule of thumb that you rest it for as long as it's been cooking on the barbie.

Oh yeah: lamb and rosemary were made for each other :)

Rachel said...

The first time we ordered lamb at a restaurant, it came medium-rare without questioning our taste. It wasn't to our taste and we sent it back to be cooked longer. As we've eaten it more often(and had better quality lamb), we've come to like it better less done than originally.

Have you ever had lamb shoulder roast? I can't find lamb shoulder here, but I've heard it makes a really tender roast. Maybe I'd have more luck in a bigger city.

Alaskan Dave Down Under said...

Lamb shoulder is very tender, and we can get any lamb cuts down here. What I usually do is buy a side of lamb and then spend 30 mins portioning it up into various cuts. It helps to have a chest freezer :)

If you want a really tender lamb shoulder roast, then you might consider steam roasting it in the oven with plenty of water in the bottom. Keep it covered. I've got a great way of seasoning it too so I'll put it up on my cooking blog next.

Oh, I really do know it shoulda been "theirs" instead of "there's"... don't know where my brain was :)

I personally feel that lamb is one of those meats that's MEANT to be eaten rare :) Unlike roo meat which I think should be down a bit more!