My Derby Party

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
  1. Remove the leg of lamb from the mesh, unroll it, and cut it at the thinnest part so that the leg lays flat.
  2. Pat the leg of lamb dry. Place it into a large bowl and season evenly on all sides with the salt and pepper.
  3. Using a food processor, combine the remaining ingredients, and pulse until well blended, 15 seconds.
  4. 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.
  5. Place the leg of lamb, fat side down, on an aluminum foil-lined sheet pan.
  6. 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.
  7. Check on the progress of the lamb every couple of minutes. A char is fine; burning, not so much.
  8. 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.
  9. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and set the oven to 300ºF.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Slice thinly against the grain of the meat and serve with the mint-cilantro pesto on the side.
Mint and Cilantro Pesto:
Yield: approximately 2 cups
  • 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
  1. Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend for 20 seconds.
  2. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides, then blend for 20 seconds more.