I love the slightly sweet and herbaceous flavor of lamb and as we move into late winter, a roasted lamb makes me think about the coming warm weather of springtime. This recipe is for a boneless leg of lamb with a Mediterranean stuffing of garlicky olives called tapenade.
You can make your own tapenade by pulsing olives, capers, garlic and shhhhh a bit of anchovy in your food processor or give yourself a break and buy some. Also, I have every confidence that you can de-bone a leg of lamb yourself, but your butcher will do it for you and likely do a much, better job.
Lay the lamb out on a flat surface and smear tapenade all over the top. Roll it and tie it. Then poke holes into the roast and stick slivers of garlic and small clips of rosemary into the holes. Place thelamb into a roasting pan with carrots and shallots and scatter any leftover rosemary around. Drizzle the whole business with olive oil and roast until a meat thermometer hits 130 for medium rare.
Once the lamb is cooked to your desired doneness, it is very forgiving and will wait for you, on a cutting board with a tent of foil to stay warm until you begin slicing—it's still good if it comes back to room temperature.
Yield: Serves 6 to 8
1 boneless leg of lamb (about 4 pounds)
1 cup store bought olive tapenade
3 garlic cloves, cut into slivers
2 leafy sprigs of rosemary, torn into small sprigs
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
10 to 12 small shallots, peeled
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks the size of the shallots
Extra-virgin olive oil
If the lamb is rolled or tied, remove any string or netting and lay it out flat on a cutting board. Trim away any excess fat that the butcher may have left, taking care not to cut any large holes in it.
Arrange the lamb so that it is bone-side up and fat-side down. Spread the surface with the tapenade and roll the lamb up into a cylinder. Don't worry of some of the tapenade spill out of the roll.
Using butcher twine, secure the roll by tying loops of twine at 1 1/2 inch intervals along its length. Fishing by weaving a long loop of twine lengthwise though the loops. Collect any tapenade that may have squeezed out and rub it over the surface of the lamb. Using the point of a sharp paring knife, make incisions all over the roast and stuff each one with a garlic sliver and small rosemary sprig.
The lamb may be prepared several hours ahead up to this point. Refrigerate the lamb if you plan to wait more than 1 hour before roasting.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
If the lamb has been refrigerated, let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Lightly oil a roasting pan. Place the lamb in the pan, and arrange the shallots and carrots around it.
Season the meat and vegetables with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oi. Scatter any leftover rosemary over the vegetables, and toss to coat.
Roast in the lower third of the oven, stirring the vegetables once or twice, until the meat reaches 130 degrees on an instant-read thermometer (for medium), 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Cover loosely with foil and let rest for 20 minutes.
Remove the strings and carve into 1/2-inch thick slices for serving.
(Courtesy: Yankee Magazine)
Annie B. Copps is a senior editor at Yankee Magazine. Annie oversees the magazine's food coverage, both as an editor and as a contributor of feature stories and columns.
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