Grilled Leg of Lamb

February 1, 2009

I am not a glutton, I am an explorer of food.
~Erma Bombeck

An earlier post on grilling set the taste buds aflutter (see Green Grilling Debate) . This makes no mention of my deeply rooted adoration of lamb. So, below is a very fine, yet simple recipe for grilled butterflied leg of lamb, which calls for a local, organic lamb. Usually, I would advocate cooking meat with a bone in, as that imparts flavor to the meat—but, when grilling a butterflied cut it seems a fine fit.

The lamb becomes succulent with a crusty, flavorful char on the outside, pink and tender on the inside. Before we embark on the cooking process, a few words on organic lamb…

Organic livestock farming promotes biological diversity and replenishment of soil without the use of toxic chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Organic certification means that the methods and practices of raising livestock have been reviewed by an independent third party. Organic meat production means that only meats labeled certified organic are 100% free of genetically modified organisms, pesticides, medications, and growth hormones.

You know what the word “local” means. Now, on to the queen for a day—


1 boned and butterflied leg of local, organic lamb (5-6 lbs. boned weight)

2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 T rice vinegar
½ cup brown sugar
2 T local honey
½ cup Dijon mustard
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup olive oil
3-4 fresh garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
2 inch slice of ginger root, peeled and finely minced
1 inch slice of ginger root, unpeeled and thinly sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and halved

Rosemary sprigs

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Rub the halved garlic cloves over the surface of the lamb; salt and pepper liberally on both sides. Then, combine marinade ingredients & pour over lamb. Marinate at least 2 hours at room temperature and preferably overnight in the refrigerator, turning the meat at least once and hopefully more. If it is marinated overnight in the refrigerator, be sure to bring the meat to room temperature before grilling.

Drain before cooking and reserve marinade.

Prepare coals or gas grill for barbecuing. If using charcoal grill, open vents on bottom, then light charcoal. Charcoal fire is medium-hot when you can hold your hand 5″ above rack for 3 seconds or so. If using gas grill, preheat burners on high with hood closed 10 minutes, then turn down to moderately high.

Just before grilling, strew several rosemary sprigs around the outside perimeter of the coals to impart subtle flavor to the meat.

Place the grill 4-5 inches above coals & grill lamb, fat side down, covered, 15 minutes. Turn meat & grill, covered, about 10 minutes more on the other side or until it reaches medium rare.

Before carving, let the lamb rest on a welled cutting board for at least 15-20 minutes to allow the juices to migrate throught. If you carve too soon, the juices will simply exit the lamb leaving a much drier piece of meat. Slice the lamb across the grain and on the bias and fan them onto plates. Heat remaining marinade, discard the sliced ginger root, and drizzle over the lamb slices.

Serve with a Côtes du Rhone or a California old vine zinfandel


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