Monday, April 25, 2011

Grilled Spring Leg of Lamb

Grilled Spring Leg of Lamb

THIS was our Easter dinner.  Boneless and buttlerflied, I think this is by far the best lamb I’ve ever made.  The essence of garlic, lemon and rosemary and a big hit of fresh chopped herbs and more lemon at the end makes this a truly memorable meal. 

I got this idea from a Suzanne Somers recipe years ago (Get Skinny on Fabulous Food, 1999, Crown Publishers, NY, NY:  Page 219).  While SS's version is tasty, over the years, as cooks often do, I played around with it a bit until I came up with a cooking method and the exact flavors that we really like.  Like Paula Deen says, "Make the recipe the first time the way the cook intended it to be made, then make it your own."  

I like use elephant garlic as it is sweeter and milder.  This method will impart a wonderful garlic flavor into the meat.  I've told you before that Dan doesn't care for fresh rosemary due to the pine needle texture, so I often opt for the dry.  I hope you will try this recipe and then make it your own.  If you do, please feel free to post your variations here or on our community page on Facebook.

BTW- don't mean to brag -  but I've lost five more pounds (yea!) just by eating this way and by exercising.  I was worried because due to my surgeries, I've had to cut back on the intensity of my morning workouts and go for lower impact activities.  I am still losing!  Of course, your dietary needs might be different, but I hope that my scaled-down home style meals are working to reduce your waistline, too!

Serves 4-6
Prep Time:  15 Minutes
Marinating Time:  8 - 24 Hours
Cooking Time:  1 Hr. 45 Minutes

You will need –

1 – 3 ½ - 4 lb lb. Boneless Leg of Lamb*
1 cup Olive Oil, divided
Juice of 2 medium Lemons, divided
1 clove Elephant Garlic, sliced thin
1 large Lemon, sliced, divided
2 teaspoons dried Rosemary
1 1/2 tablespoons Grill Seasoning for Steak (more or less to taste)
Combination of fresh chopped Herbs (suggest mint, oregano and thyme)

Other:  Fresh Mint (for garnish), Oil for grill grates and Cooking Spray for grill.

*For this dish, I like to purchase a leg of lamb in the netting.  These are usually trimmed down so that you do not have to spend time trimming the excess fat.  You will need to keep some of the fat so that the lamb doesn't dry out on the grill.   You can always trim it up as you serve it.

Remove the netting from the lamb.  To butterfly, simply take a meat carving knife and cut the meat where it was joined around the bone before the bone was removed. 

Place the butterflied lamb in a non-metallic container suitable for marinating, fat side down.  Pour ½ cup of the olive oil over lamb and the juice of one lemon.  Place ½ of the lemon slices and the elephant garlic slices over the top of the meat.  Sprinkle with the dried rosemary.

Seal the container and marinate overnight, up to 24 hours.

Lamb Marinating in Olive Oil, Lemon Juice,
Lemon Slices, Elephant Garlic, and Rosemary

Note:  Reserve the remaining lemon juice and olive oil.  You will be combining this with the fresh herbs for your basting sauce.  You can save this step here and combine this together right before you grill if you like.

Remove lamb from refrigerator to take the chill off before tossing it on the hot grill.

Lamb, ready to grill, almost...

Oil grill grates and spray on cooking spray for the grill.  

Preheat grill to 400°. 

Remove the lemon and garlic slices from the lamb and pat with a paper towel to mop up some of the excess moisture so that the lamb will brown. 

Rub BOTH sides of the lamb with grill seasoning.  Whisk together the remaining lemon juice, olive oil and herbs for your basting sauce (if you have not already done so).

Now the lamb is ready for my grill!

Place lamb on preheated grill, over direct heat, FAT SIDE UP.  This will allow the juices from the fat to coat the lamb instead of landing at the bottom of your grill.  You will be less likely to have flair ups. 

After fifteen (15) minutes of cooking over direct heat, flip lamb to fat side down. 

Turn off center burner(s) on gas grill.  If using a charcoal grill, follow your manufacturer’s recommendations for indirect cooking.

Grill for ½ hour over indirect heat. Close lid to maintain heat, checking once or twice to check the temperature with a meat thermometer.    Heat will drop to about 350°.

Flip lamb to fat side up.  Turn center burners back on, but reduce heat to medium-low.  Grill over direct heat for another fifteen minutes.  I normally close the lid for half the time and then open it and begin checking the temp.   After the 15 minutes, my meat thermometer normally reads about 125°.   

Flip lamb to fat side down once more.  Cook for approximately fifteen minutes, continuously basting the “presentation side” of lamb with the basting sauce you created with the olive oil, lemon and fresh herbs. 

I like to remove the lamb when the temperature reads 140° to allow for carryover cooking.   I place the cooked lamb on a plate and tent it with foil for about 10 minutes.   As I always say, grills vary so adjust accordingly. 

Sure, you have to watch the grill, but this is great for those days when you can take a cold beverage and relax.  We are all entitlted to that, aren't we? 

Ready for dinner?

I served this with steamed asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce and grilled potatoes with dill and parsley.  A splurge, yes, but I used lowfat milk in the sauce and only two tablespoons of butter on the potatoes.  The beauty of this cooking method is that the ends will be more well done, but the center stays pink.  This is a great recipe if you’ve got someone in your family who prefers medium-well lamb (Dan) and everyone else likes it medium or medium-rare

Easter Dinner is served!

For the potatoes, I par boil quartered red potatoes for about five minutes and then I toss them in olive oil with a little vegetable seasoning.  I grill these in a tin foil pan over direct heat for about 30 minutes until the outside is crispy.  For the last few minutes, I toss them with just two tablespoons of melted butter.  I let them continue cooking on the grill to give them that final crisp. Then I toss them with fresh dill and parsley before serving. 

These potatoes are crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside.  

Happy grilling!
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