The Best Leg of Lamb

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

  • One 4 1/2 pound leg of lamb
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • Olive oil
  • 8 bunches rosemary*
  • Coarse salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste

Trim off any excess fat from the meat. Make 1-inch slits all over the meat and insert the garlic slices. Rub the lamb well with olive oil and coat heavily with salt and pepper. Wrap securely with plastic wrap and set aside for several hours or refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 500°F. Heat an ovenproof skillet or heavy pan large enough for the lamb to fit in comfortably and brown on all sides. Remove the lamb to a platter and pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat. Cover the bottom of pan with rosemary and place the lamb on top. Rub and cover the lamb with more rosemary.

Place in the preheated oven. After 20 minutes turn the heat down to 375°F. Roast for another 40 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven.

When ready to serve, take outside, carefully ignite the rosemary on top of the lamb, and allow it to burn itself out. Be sure you have a tight fitting lid handy to extinguish the flames. Brush off the woody stems. The charred rosemary imparts even more flavor to the lamb. Let it rest 10 to 15 minutes and transfer to a serving platter.

*If fresh rosemary is unavailable, soak 3 ounces of dried rosemary in water for 30 minutes. Drain. Pat wet rosemary on the lamb before placing it in the oven. Do not attempt to flame it.

Reproduced by permission from Warner Books.
Mark Peel & Nancy Silverton at Home: Two Chefs Cook for Family and Friends
© 1994 by Mark Peel & Nancy Silverton. All rights reserved