I may not follow recipes to a T, but I like to have some idea of how to cook something when I set out on trying something new. When Dad said he wanted rack of lamb, leg of lamb, or some kind of lamb for Christmas, I decided I needed some direction as to how we could cook said lamb. I found a recipe for a marinade and method for roasting at simplyrecipes.com, one of my favorite food blogs.
- 1 (5 to 6-pound) leg of lamb, boneless. The leg should be tied up with kitchen string by butcher.
- Place lamb and marinade into a plastic bag. Squeeze out as much of the air as possible from the bag and seal. Wrap again with another plastic bag in the event that the first bag leaks. Marinate for at least six hours, or overnight, in the refrigerator. Remove the lamb, still in its marinade bag, from the refrigerator at an hour before roasting to help bring the lamb closer to room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Arrange two racks in the oven – a middle rack to hold the lamb, and a lower rack to hold a roasting pan. Place the empty roasting pan in the oven while the oven is pre-heating. Note that this arrangement of racks and pans, with the roast sitting directly on the oven rack, will create a natural convection of heat in the oven, causing the roast to cook more quickly than if cooked the traditional method in a rack in a roasting pan.
- Remove the lamb roast from its marinade bag and place it in a roasting pan. Pat dry the marinade off the lamb with paper towels. Generously salt and pepper all sides of the roast. Arrange fattiest side up, so while the lamb is cooking the fat will melt into the meat. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the roast. Place directly on the middle rack of the oven, with a roasting pan on a separate rack a rung lower, to catch the drippings. Put some water in the bottom roasting pan, so that the drippings fall into the water instead of burning in the hot pan and smoking up the kitchen.
- Roast at 425°F for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 300°F and roast an additional hour (for a 6 pound roast), about 10 to 12 minutes per pound.
Note that the method of cooking directly on the oven rack will mimic a convection oven and the cooking time/oven temp needed will be less than you would need if you cooked the roast on a rack in a roasting pan. A thicker roast may take longer than expected.
Remove from the oven anywhere from 130°F to 135°F for medium rare. Lamb should never be cooked until well done or it will be too dry. Let stand for 15-20 minutes before carving. Cut away the kitchen string and slice with a sharp carving knife, 1/2 inch thick slices, against the grain of the meat.
For my first ever lamb-roast (or roast of any kind, for that matter), I lucked out. It turned out perfectly. Especially considering I was cooking a side dish along with the roast. Before I started the meal, I was a bit anxious fretting over how I could cook the entire meal and time it so each dish could be eaten hot and at the same time. The kitchen is one place where I’m not able to multi-task all that well.
I will say this: I found the method of cooking a little bit tricky. I had trouble moving the roast around in the oven (when adding the side dish) and eventually when taking it out. This is most likely because I don’t have one of those big carving forks. I think it would have been easier to handle if I hadn’t been using a regular dinner fork and a spatula. It took both me and my dad to wriggle the roast off the rack and onto the pan. There was also an incident with some foil on the bottom of the oven and an almost fire when the roast began to drip. But we’ll just glaze over that part of the story.
We couldn’t locate a meat thermometer, though Sis is convinced she has one somewhere, so I decided to just wing it and follow the recommended roasting time. The roast turned out medium-rare at the ends and a bit too rare in the middle. But we reasoned since we’ll be eating lamb leftovers all week, the middle will get cooked eventually. My dad was thrilled that the roast didn’t taste too lamb-y. We’re not sure if this was because of the marinade or because he bought a great piece of meat from Zuppan’s. At either rate, Dad had never had lamb that was marinated and he really enjoyed the flavoring. All and all, the roast (as well as the entire meal) was a huge hit.