Monday, April 25, 2011

Greek Style Leg of Lamb with Pan Sauce

I am not sure what it really feels like to be "HIT BY A MAC TRUCK",  But this morning I felt like I was,  indeed, hit by ONE.    So much to do for Easter.  Cleaning, shopping, and prepping!  And that's before dinner is even CLOSE to being made.  WHEW!  It was all go, go, go until 11 PM...then blissful bed time.  But 4 AM is a hideous hour and it came far too fast today.  YEP, I was trashed!! 

Let's talk about what I WASN'T thinking last week.....why didn't I take today OFF????  DOH!   Someone needs to remind me of my age next holiday!

I was telling you last week I decided on Lamb for dinner.  I wanted a beautiful, large leg of lamb.  One that was whole with the entire bone in tact.  But where to find one?  In the regular Markets there are boned leg of lamb, butterflied leg of lamb, half leg of lamb with the bone in and lamb shanks (the top part of the leg), but NO WHOLE LEGS.  We found nothing in our search so it was off to Bob's Country Meats for a gorgeous, whole, fresh, albeit expensive, lamb leg.  I WAS EXCITED!

I researched preparations for Greek, Middle Eastern and Indian preparations.  I quickly decided that Indian was out.....excellent I am sure, but likely not the biggest crowd pleaser.  Middle Eastern looked good, but it was the Greek preparation that drew me in.  The Greeks stud their leg of lamb with TONS of sliced garlic cloves, then drench it in fresh squeezed lemon juice.  So as fascinated as I was, I found myself thinking wow, sounds great but maybe just a bit simple.  So I found a recipe for fresh herb paste which i felt would go with the lemon and garlic, then a pan sauce that complimented the entire preparation.

The result was a delicious, perfect lamb roast which was tender, rich with a touch of bright acidity from the Lemon.  The pan drippings were turned into a sauce that perfectly complimented this roast!

The Leg of Lamb was HUGE:

What you see here is the finished product of my trimming skills.  Leg of Lamb like this comes with a tough membrane around the meat with a good amount of fat.  I pulled off all the membrane and cut away most of the fat leaving enough to keep the meat tender.

I don't know if you can see the slits. Inside of those slits are sliced garlic cloves - a lot of them!!  I used almost a whole head of garlic (probably 20 or more cloves, sliced).

It's time to squirt lemon juice over the whole leg.  I use a citrus squeezer - they are the best and easiest to use.  I tried everything before I went to the squeezer and this is just so convenient and easy (especially with my arthritis in my hands.  I can do 3-4 lemons in NO TIME, with no pain.  Check out a fantastic squeezer at Amazon, in my favorites to the right of this blog.  That's the one I am going to get once this one breaks!!

Squeeze the juice of two lemons all over the leg (if your leg is smaller than 8 lbs, use one lemon) and sort of rub in into the meat, without disturbing the garlic pockets.

Lightly salt and pepper the meat.  Cover with Plastic wrap (aluminum foil doesn't like lemon juice) and refrigerate over night.  The next day take roast out and let it come to room temperature, if possible (this is not a not necessary).

Just before baking, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and make a fresh herb crust:

6 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
6 tablespoons chopped fresh Rosemary
6 large garlic cloves
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper, cracked or hand ground
6 tablespoons of olive oil
( this recipe is from The Complete Meat Cookbook, by  Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly)

Put it all in the food processor:

Process until this is a Bright green kind of loose paste.  Cover the whole roast (every nook and cranny) with the paste:

Affix roast with a meat thermometer (I use one with a probe that sits on the counter so I can constantly see the temperature.  Cover with Aluminum Foil and put in the middle of your oven at 350 degrees.  I happen to have a convection oven - it's not necessary but I like to use it with meat this large. It helps the heat to be distributed a bit more evenly so if you have one, I would recommend using it.

After one hour, remove the aluminum foil from the roast and pour in about 3 cups beef broth to keep meat moist (and to help make gravy. Continue to roast until temperature you desire is reached (if broth dries up in the oven, add some hot water or additional broth.

NOTE: Many people love RARE leg of lamb.  I don't.  I like mine about a few degrees west of medium, so I roasted this until the temp read 160 degrees.  Since this leg was 11 lbs, it took approx. 3 hours. But feel free to play with temperatures and serve the lamb to your liking.  I let the lamb rest for about 15 minutes on another platter.  The roast rose 8 degrees during that time - perfect for me.  The roast was a bit more than medium, but still pink at the bone.

I used the Pan sauce recipe, from the same book

2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 cup red wine (I used Pinot Noir)
1 cup beef broth
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
a bit of butter (optional)
salt, pepper
but added my additions:  Cream or half and half and the possible addition of a roux for thickening (flour and water mixed till thick)  I needed to use the roux.

Pour off fat leaving pan drippings and juice.  Bring roasting pan juices to a boil.  Add garlic and cook about a minute.  Add wine and boil on high until reduced by half, scraping up bottom of pan.  Add stock and thyme and boil until sauce coats the back of a spoon.  Whisk in the mustard and add salt and pepper to taste.  If the sauce is too thin, mix a little flour (2 tablespoons maybe) with a some water to thick paste and add by drop-fuls into gravy and whisk to desired thickness.  Add cream or half and half to taste and add a bit of butter, if desired.

Your lamb is ready to be carved and crowned with that beautiful sauce...

From my home to yours, ENJOY!

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