Roast Leg of Lamb Stuffed With Spinach and Feta
- Servings: 8.
In this simple roasted leg of lamb, a layer of green, tender spinach and white, tangy feta cheese makes a flavorful counterpoint to the lamb's sweetness. A robust paste of minced garlic and dried oregano adds classic Greek taste to a traditional lamb roast.
Have your butcher butterfly a leg of lamb by removing the bone and opening the piece of meat into a single, flat piece. Ask him to also give you a long piece of butcher's twine so that once you have seasoned and spread the lamb with a thin layer of steamed spinach and a crumble of feta cheese, you can roll up and tie the meat into a well-bound roast.
Feta cheese is a tangy, white sheep's milk cheese that is made domestically as well as in Greece, France and Bulgaria. Each type is a little different, varying in creaminess and saltiness. I prefer the Bulgarian for its balance and firm-but-not-dry texture, but if in doubt, buy your feta from a good cheesemonger and ask for a taste before you buy.
Special Equipment: about 6 feet of cotton butcher's twine, instant meat thermometer
Bring the lamb to room temperature by removing it from the refrigerator about an hour before you wish to cook it.
- 3 1/2 pound butterflied leg of lamb
- 12 oz. washed baby spinach or leaf spinach that has been very carefully rinsed and removed of all its stems
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 pound feta cheese, about 2/3 cup coarsely crumbled
- Preheat the oven to 375° F.
- In the microwave or using a covered saucepan, cook the spinach until it's completely wilted. Transfer to a colander and drain, and when it's cool enough to handle, use your clean hands to squeeze out any excess moisture. Chop the spinach into 1-inch pieces and set aside.
- In a food processor, finely mince the garlic cloves. Use a spatula to scrape the sides of the processor basket. Add the oregano, salt, pepper and olive oil and pulse three or four times to combine into a paste. Use the spatula to remove the paste into a small dish and set aside.
- Open the lamb so that it lies flat on a cutting board. If you're not skilled at tying a roast, prepare the twine by pre-cutting 4 lengths long enough to tie around the width of the roast and another piece to tie the roast lengthwise. Keep the scissors handy to trim the string.
- Lightly salt and pepper the lamb. Using a spatula, spoon or your fingers, spread the chopped spinach onto the surface of the lamb, making a layer that covers most of the meat but leaving about a 1-inch border.
- Sprinkle the coarsely crumbled feta on top of the spinach.
- Working from the left to the right, roll up the meat as if it were a jelly roll, folding the meat onto the spinach and cheese surface and tucking in the edges. Holding the roast in place with one hand, take a piece of cut twine and slide it under the roast, bringing up and tying the ends. Repeat the tying along the roast so that the rolled meat is securely tied in four places. Finish by taking the last, longest piece of string and tie the roast lengthwise, securing the stuffed roll will remain in place while cooking. Use the scissors to trim off any ends.
- Give the garlic, oregano and oil paste a stir and rub it all over the exterior of the tied roast. Place in a small roasting pan -- one that is big enough to hold the roast but not so large as to dwarf it.
- Roast for 1 hour. Check for internal temperature -- your goal is 140° F for medium rare when tested with an instant thermometer in the thickest part of the roast. Depending on how thick the meat, you may need to cook it an additional 5 to 7 minutes.
- Let rest for 10 minutes before cutting off the string ties and slicing the lamb into thick pieces.
- Serve hot or at room temperature.