Roast Leg of Lamb

Roast Leg of Lamb with Tzatziki

Ingredients:
5-6 lb bone-in Leg of Lamb
6-8 cloves Garlic, minced
6-8 cloves Garlic, sliced in half horizontally
2 Tbsp Lemon Zest, divided
2 Tbsp Oregano, divided
2 Tbsp Rosemary, divided
2 Tbsp Mint, divided
2 Tbsp Salt, divided
1 Tbsp Black Pepper, divided
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
1/2 Tbsp Cardamom
1 Tbsp Crushed Red Pepper
1 cup dry Red Wine
1 cup Lemon Juice
3 Tbsp Olive Oil

Directions

  • Combine the minced Garlic, half of the Lemon Zest, Rosemary, Oregano, Mint, Salt, and Black Pepper, the Crushed Red Pepper, Red Wine, and Lemon Juice in a large container for a marinade. The container should be able to hold the leg of lamb, and be sealed. I advocate using a seal-able bag.
  • Place the Lamb in the container with the marinade and refrigerate for 6-12 hours.
  • After marinating, remove the Lamb to a roasting pan, and pat dry.
  • Preheat oven to 450°F
  • Taking a large paring knife, cut slits in the meat about 1/2″ wide, and 1″ deep.
  • Insert the Garlic slivers into the slits.
  • Taking the remaining Herbs and Seasoning, rub the Lamb. If you need more, feel free to add more.
  • Take the Dijon Mustard and lightly spread along the Lamb over the rub. Try to avoid clumps.
  • Drizzle the Olive Oil over the top.
  • Place in the oven, and roast for 20 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to 325°F and roast for an additional 25-35 minutes, or until desired doneness.
  • Rare is about 25 minute with an internal temperature of 135°F
  • Medium-rare is about 30 minutes with an internal temperature of 140°F
  • Medium is about 35 minutes with an internal temperature of 160°F
  • Remember to put the meat thermometer in the thickest part of the leg, and not touching the bone.

Serve with Tzatziki or Mint Jelly

NOTES: This recipe pulls on Greek flavors from my neighborhood Astoria. For me, lamb says Spring, Easter, and Passover. Traditionally, Lamb (קרבן פסח)would have been sacrificed on the first night of Passover in remembrance of the lambs blood that was painted on the door posts of the Hebrew homes in Egypt, signifying to the Angel of the Lord to passover that house and spare the first born son. The use of a shank-bone on the Seder plate is reminiscent of this sacrifice, and in some places, Lamb is eaten as the primary meat in the Seder meal.

In the Christian tradition, which I am much more familiar with, the symbol of the lamb has been drawn from Passover and applied to Jesus as the sacrificial lamb which allows death to passover all those washed in the blood of his sacrifice. You will see a lot of symbolism around Easter time in both the Western and Eastern Churches of the Paschal Lamb, often carrying a banner and sitting on a broken sarcophagus.

Jan Van Eyck painting “Ghent Altarpiece”, finished 1432

Whether celebrating Passover or Easter or just a group of friends coming for a visit, lamb is a great festive choice of food, and probably my favorite meat.

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