Lamb is my favorite red meat, and I am definitely a meat lover. Whenever I see lamb on special, I snag it. I love turning ground lamb into a savory pie filling or spicy samosas, but right now we’re talking roasted leg of lamb. Boneless, butterflied or bone-in, leg of lamb is tender and flavorful.
Garlic and mint are lamb’s best friends. Growing up, I can recall my mother roasting huge legs of lamb, cutting slits in the meat to insert whole cloves of garlic, and serving it with mint jelly. I fell in love with lamb very early, but when I got older and started making my own, I had my own ideas about how to do it.
Above: Boneless (but not butterflied) lamb roast, after removing the string netting. Below: After being carved.
- 1 c fresh mint leaves, packed
- 1 head of garlic, peeled
- olive oil
- kosher salt
- lamb roast
Preheat your oven to 325ºF.
Basically, when roasting lamb, I begin with a mint pesto, which means the garlic cloves and mint go into the food processor, and olive oil and salt are added until the desired consistency is reached. Then, depending on the cut, I either smother the roast in this paste, or in the case of a butterflied leg, cover one side in it, roll the meat up, and tie it with string. With a boneless leg, I even put the paste in the space left behind from the bone’s removal. I then place on a wire rack in a roasting pan, and stick it in the oven.
How long you cook it is dependent on how rare you’d like it. Rare is described by the USDA as an internal temperature of 140ºF, medium-rare from 150ºF, and medium from 160ºF, but 160ºF is going to be very dry, so you want to aim for 140ºF-150ºF. A boneless or butterflied lamb leg will need to roast for 15-20 minutes per pound to reach the desired temperature, and bone-in 20-30 minutes per pound.
You’ll want to let your roast rest before testing its temperature, because it will continue cooking for a short time after it has been removed from the oven. Once it’s rested, it’s ready to be carved. I still serve mine with mint jelly, garlic mashed potatoes or homemade rice pilaf, and roasted vegetables.