Roast Leg of Lamb With Bone
Cooking method shared with permission from Barbara Kafka.
- Servings: 6 to 8.
Leg of lamb can be a special meal but because it is not a budget item, it's important to cook it properly for best flavor and results.
So I turned to my godmother in all things roasting, Barbara Kafka. Her book, Roasting: A Simple Art, is one of my three favorite cookbooks of all time. (The other two? Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I, and Marcella Hazan's The Classic Italian Cookbook.) It's a favorite because every recipe I've ever made from it has worked and has taught me something and I trust it.
- 1 short leg with bone, (4 to 5 1/2 pounds), trimmed and tied
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and cut into little slivers
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Place oven rack so that the roasting pan will be in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 500° F. You don't need a rack inside the pan -- the meat will sit right in the empty pan.
- Bring the lamb to room temperature by taking it out of the refrigerator about 45 minutes before cooking. When ready to cook, using a small sharp knife, make small 1/2-inch slits every couple of inches all over the meat, top and bottom. Place a sliver of garlic in each chip, pressing it past the opening so that the garlic is submerged in the meat.
- Roast for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 425° F and roast another 40 minutes.
- Using an instant thermometer, check the roast's internal temperature. Your goal is an internal temperature of 140° F for rare and 150° F for medium rare and 160° F for medium. If the meat needs more cooking, check every 5 minutes so to not over-cook.
- Remove from the oven and transfer to a platter. Let rest for 10 minutes before carving.
Here's a piece of roasting science that I learned from Ms. Kafka's recipe notes: a boned leg takes longer to cook than one with the bone-in. While this may seem counter-intuitive, it turns out that the bone helps disperse the heat through the meat whereas the density of the meat-against-meat of the boned roast cooks less quickly. So you must always adjust the cooking time for your roast not only based on its size but also whether it's boned or bone-in.
A simple roast leg of lamb can be accessorized with an herb rub, a sauce can be made with the pan's drippings and lamb stock or wine, or you can partner the finished roast with a classic mint sauce. Leg of lamb is very versatile but what's most essential is to buy a good piece of meat and then cook it properly.