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Slow-Roasted Leg of Lamb with Mint and Lemon

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Serves four with leftovers (eight without).

For a weekend spring dinner that yields plenty of leftovers for the week, try a whole leg of lamb. The lamb is rubbed with mint, lemon, and garlic and then roasted until juicy and tender.

When buying, if you can, choose young lamb, which is tender, with a mild flavor. Look for firm, finely grained, pale- to dark-pink meat. The layer of fat should be smooth and white, and any cut bone should be porous, moist, and red. See the ingredient tip for more on what to ask your butcher when you buy this cut.

Watch our video on carving a leg of lamb into perfect, tender slices.

  • 1 bone-in leg of lamb, 6 to 9 lb.
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint, plus 1/2 cup small fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1-1/2 cups lower-salt chicken broth
Tip:
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.

Put the lamb in a 4-quart, 15x10-inch glass baking dish. In a small bowl, mix the chopped mint, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, 2 tsp. salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Spread the mixture over the lamb and turn to coat. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight, turning once.

Remove the lamb from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking. Put it on a V-rack in a 13x16-inch flameproof roasting pan. Cover the shank bone with foil. Add the reserved pelvic bone and 1 cup of water to the pan.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F.

Put the lamb in the oven and lower the heat to 350°F. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the leg, away from the bone, reads 135°F to 140°F for medium rare, 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

Transfer the lamb to a warm platter and cover with aluminum foil. Let rest for at least 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, skim the fat from the top of the pan juices and then set the roasting pan over two burners on medium heat. Add the wine, and with a wooden spoon, scrape up all the browned bits. Bring to a boil and cook until the liquid has reduced to about 1/4 cup. Add the broth, return to a boil, and reduce the liquid again to about 1 cup. Season to taste with salt and pepper, strain into a sauceboat, and stir in the mint leaves. Carve the lamb and serve with the sauce.

Wrap the leftover lamb and store the sauce in an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Serving Suggestions

Braised fingerling potatoes and fresh peas with butter and more mint complete a perfect spring dinner.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 710; Fat (g): 30; Fat Calories (kcal): 270; Saturated Fat (g): 9; Protein (g): 97; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 15; Carbohydrates (g): 3; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2.5; Sodium (mg): 520; Cholesterol (mg): 295; Fiber (g): 0;

Photo: Scott Phillips

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