Sunday, March 30, 2008

Roasted Leg o' Lamb

Ahhhhh, lamb... Anyone remember that sock puppet character that Shari Lewis (lady ventriliquist) did back in the 50's and 60's called Lambchop? It was on a childrens show, I do believe.

For those of you who are Lambchop fans, you may shudder as you read this: LAMB TASTES GOOD! I don't think I had ever eaten lamb till I arrived down unda, but I can understand why folks like it.

Lamb has a very delicate flavour compared to other meats. Very tender and it takes seasonings very well. Obviously, a strong, bold marinade or seasoning will overpower the lamb taste, so only use something like that if the lamb you are using is either a lesser cut, or you just happen to really like that flavour. BTW, teriyaki lamb chops on the grill are really good!

But, we aren't doing teriyaki lamb chops today. Neither are we doing the english minted lamb either. Oh, if you have lamb chops in certain parts of the UK it WILL be served with mint sauce.

No, today we are doing a leg of lamb roast with rosemary (drool)!

Rosemary is a great herb and it seems to be made for lamb. It's also one of the main herbs for chicken too (thyme and sage being a couple of others for them thar chooks). It'll grow wild down here with pretty much ZERO maintenance. If you'd like to grow it yourself you can. It propogates very well from cuttings, so if your neighbour has some, then you can have some too. If you live in an area that has winter *shudder*, then you better grow it in a pot cus you'll have to take it indoors when it's cold. It likes lots of sun and well drained soil. Don't let your indoor rosemary plant get too humid! Did you know that rosemary is part of the mint family? Well, know you do.

Quick aside: I was inspired to write this recipe down cus rachel did a grill lamb recipe on her blog and that reminded me of my steam roasted lamb. So thanks go to her, otherwise I might not of even thought of typing this in! BTW, hers sounds really really good.

Back to the food...

Roasted Leg o' Lamb

Whut u knead:

One leg of lamb on da bone
5 or 6 sprigs of rosemary, each one 8 to 10 inches long
a bit of sea salt
a bit of ground white pepper
a bit of dried mint leaves
one or two bamboo (or metal) skewers about the same diameter of the woody part of the rosemary sprigs
one big roasting dish with lid (it'll need to be big enough for the lamb leg)

Whut u due:

You might be able to see where I'm going with this, but for those of you who haven't figured it out... Here ya go:

Take a skewer and skewer the leg (of the lamb, not your own). Make sure you ream the hole out a few times, then follow the skewer with a rosemary sprig (the woody part of the sprig *should* push the skewer all the way through). If you can get the rosemary sprig all the way through (so that a bit of it sticks out on each side) then great. If not, no worries; just try to get it in a far as possible. Oh, push the thicker end of the sprig through first so you aren't "going against the grain" of the rosemary needles.

Same thing for the rest of the rosemary. Depending on the leg size and how far in you get the rosemary you'll use probably 4 to 8 sprigs.

Mix the bit of salt, pepper and dried mint in a bowl. Then give the leg (the one with the rosemary sticking out of it) a good rubdown with the seasonings. Place the leg in the roasting dish and pour about an inch of water around the leg. Cover that sucker and chuck it in a low oven for a couple of hours.

After 1.5 to 2 hours, turn the oven off, take lamb out, and pour the juices into a saucepan. At this point you have two was to go: cover the lamb and put it back in the oven for 15 mins while you do stuff with the juices, or leave it uncovered to "rest" while you make gravy from the juices.

I'll go through both!

1) Put the lid back on the lamb and return it to the oven (remember you turned the oven off already). To the saucepan that has pan juices, add a splash of red wine and then boil it till it's reduced by at least half.

After the sauce has been reduced, take lamb out of oven and carve it. You'll find it's very easy to carve; very very tender. Serve with roasted or boiled spuds and garden peas (cooked). Drizzle the sauce over everything.

2) Ok, so you've decided to do gravy, no worries. Gravy doesn't take long at all, so the lamb can set on you cutting board to rest for 5 mins while you make the gravy. It's easy: mix a tbsp or two of cornstarch (it's called corn flour down here) in some cold water. Bring the pan juices to a boil, turn the heat off, and whisk while pouring in the dissolved cornstarch. See? EASY!

Carve up the lamb, serve with spuds and peas; don't forget to put lashings of gravy on everything!

Hmmmmmm, what to do with the bone and all the offcuts... Well, there'll be some meat, gristle, cartilege etc hanging on it. Chuck it all in a big pot with lots of water and boil the heck out of it for a few hours! All the tasty marrow and great flavourings will be added to that water! TaDa: instant soup stock! Just make sure you strain it before storing it. You'll also want to defat the stock. I know of several ways to do that so just ask if you are interested, no worries.

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