Roasted Leg of Lamb is one of my favorite dishes…paired along with a Missouri Norton. My mother-in-law, who is from Spain, has taught me a lot of things in the kitchen – including paella (which is another favorite in our house), but cooking a leg of lamb to perfection was one of my favorite lessons. She is adamant that lamb MUST be cooked to a medium-rare, but I’ve included doneness categories for you to choose your own.
My mother-in-law asked me why more Americans don’t eat lamb, as she stated in Spain it was common. We are a country that consume very little lamb…which is a shame…because I think it’s absolutely delicious! The U.S. eats over 100 lbs of chicken a year, but only about .8 lbs of lamb. People don’t know what they are missing!
I would highly suggest visiting your local farmers market or finding a local rancher to purchase your product from, they will also be able to offer tips and techniques in preparation.
Doneness levels for lamb are pretty much the same as for beef:
- 120°F (rare): Bright red and slippery on the interior. Abundant intramuscular fat has yet to soften and render.
- 130°F (medium-rare): The meat has begun to turn pink, and is significantly firmer, juicier, moister, more tender, and beefier than either rare or medium meat.
- 140°F (medium): Solid rosy pink, and quite firm to the touch. Still moist, but verging on dry. Fat is fully rendered at this stage, delivering plenty of beefy flavor.
- 150°F (medium-well): Pink, but verging on gray. Moisture level drops precipitously, Chewy, fibrous texture. Fat has fully rendered, and has begun to collect outside the steak, carrying away flavor with it.
- 160°F (well done): Dry, gray, and lifeless. Moisture loss is up to 18%, and fat is completely rendered. What once was lamb, now is dust.
And just like with beef, I personally recommend cooking to at least medium rare—it’s hot enough that the abundant fat in the meat begins to melt, lubricating and flavoring the meat. Rare lamb is tougher and less flavorful. And, if you don’t already have one in your kitchen arsenal- purchase a really good digital thermometer to make your job in the kitchen easier.
Lane’s Roasted Leg of Lamb
2 lemons, juiced
2 T. garlic powder
1T. onion powder
4 springs of fresh Rosemary
5 springs of Thyme
¼ c olive oil
Mix all together in bowl. Coat a 5-7 lb. leg of lamb with the mixture and place lamb in bag and place in refrigerator overnight. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place roasting tray in a roasting pan and place lamb on tray.
Roast for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and cook for another 1 to 1 and half hrs. longer to medium rare. A digit thermometer will read 145 degrees. Remove lamb and let the meat rest for at least 15 minutes.
Place roasting pan on stove and turn heat to medium. Add to the pan:
1 c. chicken stock
1 c. dry red wine
1 tsp. Herb De Provence
3 garlic cloves, crushed
½ tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. sea salt
Deglaze the pan to release the pan drippings from the leg of lamb by cooking mixture and scraping with a wooden spoon. Cook the mixture down, while continuing to scrape drippings on the bottom of pan. Strain mixture and drizzle sliced lamb with sauce.