Monday, December 13, 2010

Roast Leg of Lamb

A thousand of my closest friends and I went to Costco today.  We all met and tried to politely crash our carts together and jockey for position at the sample kiosks and smile and pretend we love shopping during the holidays.

My primary purpose was to replenish my supply of butter.  Costco has the best price on organic butter, and let's just say that Sassy's been baking her way through a few pounds of butter in the last few weeks.  One of these years I will count the pounds (of butter, not my weight) that I use from the week before Thanksgiving through New Year's Day.  Then again, it might be a number I do NOT want to know (like my weight).

Enough of that, let's talk lamb.  They had boneless leg of lamb at a good price, so I choked and picked up a 5+ pound roast for $26.00.  Believe it or not, I have rarely cooked lamb in my 21 years as a home cook.  Back in the day, when we were both working, husband and I enjoyed lamb chops a few times.  I am pretty sure I've cooked a bone-in leg once or twice since then, but it's always seemed an expensive luxury meat to me.  When you're feeding 6 hungry kids and a carnivorous husband, lamb isn't often on the grocery list.

So the butter and the lamb (and the many other things) came home.  I asked my Facebook pals how they liked to cook lamb, read a bit on some cooking sites, and then consulted "Julia" who is all-knowing.  The following is the hybrid recipe I attempted.  Everyone loved the lamb, and the accompanying victuals.  We had Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes (just add sour cream to your favorite mashed potato recipe), Herbed Focaccia, Mixed Greens with Tarragon Vinaigrette and Blue Cheese Crumbles, and some Spicy Cranberry Chutney.  And "Well Red" which is a favorite red wine from Trader Joe's - it's smooth and rather Pinot-ish, and organic to boot.

Roast Boneless Leg of Lamb

One 5-6 pound boneless leg of lamb, tied up nicely by the people at Costco
3 large garlic cloves, chopped finely
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
white wine (one cup total)
2-3 tablespoons butter

Heat oven to 450 degrees. 

Mash-mix together in a bowl the garlic, oregano, rosemary, salt, pepper and olive oil.

Place roast on a rack in a roasting pan.  Roast for 20 minutes, turning at 10 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350.  Slather the herb-paste all over the top and sides of the roast.  Scatter the onion in the bottom of the pan, and pour in about a half cup of the white wine.  Roast, basting every 20 minutes, until a meat thermometer reads 140 degrees.  (My size roast took 2 1/2 hours to cook).

Here's the tricky part.  We like ours medium rare.  Some parts of your roast might be more done and some less done, but you want the center of the roast to be pink.  At least we do.  The roast will sit for 20 minutes while you make the sauce and yell at your kids to wash their hands.  If you like your whole roast well done, then shoot for 155-160. 

Remove roast from pan and cover with foil.  Pour off most of the fat from the accumulated juices.  Put the roasting pan on top of the stove and heat to boiling.  Add another half cup of white wine and simmer for a few minutes, stirring to loosen any brown bits from the bottom and sides of the pan.  Swirl in the butter, a tablespoon at a time until the sauce is velvety.  Taste for seasoning.  Strain into a bowl and serve with the roast.

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