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Slow-Roasted Leg of Lamb with Mint and Cilantro Ginger Pesto
by Chef Nathan Lyon
From “Great Food Starts Fresh”
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
- 1 boneless leg of lamb, 3½ to 4¼ pounds
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ small yellow onion or 2 medium shallots, peeled and quartered
- 5 large garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon fennel seed
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest (zest of 1 lemon), grated on a Microplane
- 1½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice of half a lemon)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Yield: approximately 2 cups
- Remove the leg of lamb from the mesh, unroll it, and cut it at the thinnest part so that the leg lays flat.
- Pat the leg of lamb dry. Place it into a large bowl and season evenly on all sides with the salt and pepper.
- Using a food processor, combine the remaining ingredients, and pulse until well blended, 15 seconds.
- Pour the contents over the lamb and rub to coat the lamb all over. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 1 hour at room temperature.
- Place the leg of lamb, fat side down, on an aluminum foil-lined sheet pan.
- Turn the oven to broil. Once on, place the sheet pan with the leg of lamb under the broiler. Broil until nicely colored, 7 to 10 minutes, depending on how far the meat is from your oven’s heat source.
- Check on the progress of the lamb every couple of minutes. A char is fine; burning, not so much.
- When the lamb is nicely colored, flip the leg with tongs and continue to broil until nicely colored on the fat side, 5 to 7 minutes. Your kitchen should smell a little bit like garlic-rosemary heaven. Remove the leg from the broiler.
- Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and set the oven to 300ºF.
- Insert an oven-safe digital thermometer probe horizontally into the middle of the leg (still fat side up), and set the alarm to sound at 127ºF.
- Once the oven is preheated, transfer the leg to the oven and cook, uncovered, until the thermometer alarm goes off. For medium-rare, that’s approximately 35 to 40 minutes.
- Remove the leg from the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Tent loosely with foil and allow to rest at least 20 minutes prior to slicing.
- Slice thinly against the grain of the meat and serve with the mint-cilantro pesto on the side.
Mint and Cilantro Pesto:
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves
- ½ cup fresh cilantro
- 3 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated on a Microplane
- 1 small garlic clove, peeled and grated into paste on a Microplane, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (juice of 1 lime)
- ⅓ cup grapeseed oil
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend for 20 seconds.
- Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides, then blend for 20 seconds more.