Leg of lamb is a classic spring roast. You can find leg of lamb in a variety of different cuts. Most traditional is the whole, bone-in leg, but perhaps more manageable is a butterflied, boneless leg ("butterflied" means it's been cut open into a large, flat sheet), and a boneless rolled and tied leg roast.
For the whole, bone-in leg, simple roasting is the way to go. A rolled, tied roast is also ideal for roasting, and it's also easy to stuff and carve. Since butterflied leg of amb is a thin cut, it can be grilled, broiled or seared.
When buying lamb, color can be an indication of age; the lighter the color the younger (and presumably more tender) the lamb will be. The layer of fat should be smooth and white, and any cut bone should be porous, moist, and red.
A whole (or long) leg of lamb has the sirloin attached and weighs from 6 to 9 pounds. It yields a range of meat, from tender and marbled to firmer and leaner. Ask your butcher not to break the shank bone but to simply cut the tendons that hold the meat to the bone; this will allow the meat to shrink from the bone while roasting. Also, ask him to give you the pelvic bone (it will lend great flavor to the sauce) and to tie the meat to form a compact shape. This will make roasting and carving easier.
American and New Zealand lamb are both widely available in the United States. New Zealand lamb tends to be smaller and leaner than American-raised lamb, something to keep in mind when buying individual cuts; a leg or rack of lamb may weigh as little as half of the same American cut.
To carve a bone-in leg of lamb
|On one of the meaty sides of the leg, cut a few slices in the direction of the bone. These cuts are with the meat grain, but they'll give you a flat area on which to stabilize the leg.||Turn the leg over so it rests on the flat area. Make a series of cuts, in whatever thickness you like, perpendicular to and all the way down the bone.||Turn your knife so it's parallel to the bone and cut the slices free in one sweeping motion. Repeat with the other sides of the leg.