I grew up eating lamb. Lamb was not a luxury by any means back in the olden days. My parents brought a lamb, had it butchered, packaged and put into our freezer. It seemed logical as my heritage is Basque and we come from a long-line of shepherds to lambs.
I hated the meat. While the rest of my friends were eating fried chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs, we were eating lamb (as well as a few other “weird” things). I thought it was tough and greasy. I am not sure when I realized how amazing lamb actually was; but, am sure it was well into my adult life and that it was cooked to a way I like if. Now I adore it and could eat it all the time.
A while back we were introduced to Lava Lake Ranch and fell in love. Lava Lake is an artisan producer of the finest grass-fed lamb I have ever tasted. The family owned ranch is nestled out in the mountains of Sun Valley, Idaho (we have not visited, yet, but the photos are gorgeous) where the lambs run around playing, eating grass and enjoying the sunshine. They are tended to by shepherds in the same manner that has been passed down for centuries. The result is the most flavorful lamb you have ever had. It is 100% grass-fed, free-range and never given hormones or antibiotics. It is perfect.
Recently, Christina, reached out wondering if I would be interested in developing some new lamb recipes for the upcoming spring season. I squealed with delight and then a couple weeks later a generous package of lamb landed on my doorstep. The first recipe I worked on was for a boneless leg of lamb. I pondered with ideas of how to season this gorgeous leg of lamb; but, in the end decided to stick to traditional ways with a slight twist.
I remember my Tia Anne cooking a lamb roast the same way: stuffed with fresh garlic and then roasted until golden (and well-done). Even-though, I was not a fan of lamb back then, I loved the smell of the meat roasting with fresh garlic. Pungent but slightly caramelized. I even loved picking the little bits off of the bottom of the pan when it was finished. Heaven.
I feel the same as the women in my life felt; that a quality piece of meat only needs simple seasoning, just enough to enhance the already intense flavors. I, took the leg of lamb, gently cut small silts into the pink flesh, and nestled cloves of garlic through the meat. Then I rubbed the meat with a mixture of Maldon salt, fresh cracked black pepper and sumac. Before cooking the lamb, I lightly browned all of the sides to lock in the juices. The sumac gave the meat a slightly lemony taste and a gorgeous deep brown color. The lamb came out succulent; moist, full of juices and melt on your tongue tender. I served the lamb with lavash, homemade hummus, roasted asparagus drizzled with blood orange and a full-bodies syrah.
**** Keep in mind when roasting a great piece of lamb, that you do not want to over cook it. Over cooking will only toughen the meat and kill the flavor. A little pink will not hurt you. A gorgeous leg of lamb is actually best when served medium rare. Plan on cooking a boneless leg of lamb at 350 for about 15 – 20 minutes per pound, the temperature of the meat should be 135 degrees in the middle. Invest in a meat thermometer, it will save your meal. Keep in mind that a large cut of meat such as a leg of lamb will continue cooking while it rests, so plan accordingly.
Recipe: Roasted Leg of Lamb with Sumac
- 2 lb boneless leg of lamb
- 8 clove of fresh garlic, split in half
- 1 tablespoon sumac
- 1 tablespoon maldon salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh cracked black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Heat oven to 350.
- Using a sharp knife, make small slits throughout the piece of lamb and stuff a piece of garlic into the flesh.
- Mix the sumac, salt and pepper together. Press into the flesh.
- In a large dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium heat, brown all sides of the leg of lamb; about 3 minutes per side.
- Put into the oven and roast, following the on roasting lamb on Chez Us
- Remove from the oven.
- Let sit for 10 minutes before slicing.