Persian recipes are one of my favorites to make at home especially once the warm begins to warm up. All of the exotic spices mixed together create such warmth; I find it so intoxicating. When our friends at Lava Lake Ranch asked if I would like to develop some new lamb recipes for Spring I immediately knew I had to incorporate these flavors. If we were going to be home for Easter I would definitely be serving this recipe for Persian Boneless Leg of Lamb with Tabbouleh Couscous.
This recipe is fairly simple but does require some planning and time. I like to lightly season the meat with kosher salt about two days before I plan on cooking it. I find that this step really enhances the flavor of good meat. If you do not have this much time, at least lightly salt about an hour before cooking. As well, if you do not want to add the dried rosebuds to the recipe, it will still work out but I found that the flavor profile is so much better with them added. I purchase from a local spice store but have also seen on Amazon.
Do not overcook the meat. This makes me crazy when a gorgeous cut of meat from a wonderful ranch is overcooked. I have said it a millon times – if you buy meat from a respected ranch who practices organic and grass-fed ranching you are receiving meat you can trust. I prefer lamb to be served medium rare, though Lenny is more on the medium side, so I try to find a happy medium. I always use a meat thermometer and I undercook the meat by 5 degrees as it will continue cooking once removed from the oven.
I use the following guideline:
- 115 – 120 for Rare
- 120 – 125 for Medium-Rare
- 130 – 135 for Medium
- 140 – 145 for Medium Well
- 150 – 155 for Well Done
- 155 + is just wrong
The warmth of the cardamom and cinnamon mix so well with the seasonings for this recipe, then the acidity of the lemon juice with the tabbouleh cuts through the fat of the meat. I find the entire recipe bright and refreshing.
Persian Boneless Leg of Lamb with Tabbouleh Couscous
4 1/2 pound boneless leg of lamb
1/4 teaspoons saffron, crushed between your fingers
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
3 teaspoons dried rosebuds – optional but so worth it
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
a drizzle of olive oil
1/4 cup water
1 lime – juiced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups pearl couscous
2 cups of water
1 small garlic clove, finely minced, I use a microplane
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large lemon, juiced
3 cups (tightly packed) Italian parsley
1 cup (tightly packed) mint
1/2 cup tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
Salt to taste
Two days before cooking the lamb I lightly coat with salt and place it into a large glass baking dish covered with plastic wrap. Or place into a large ziplock bag.
An hour before cooking I remove the lamb from the refrigerator and bring it to warm temperature.
Combine the saffron, cinnamon, cardamom, dried rosebuds, cracked black pepper, and turmeric in a bowl and stir together with a spoon lightly breaking up the rosebuds.
Rub the spices into the meat.
Preheat the oven to 325.
Place a large dutch oven over medium heat on the stove and drizzle in some olive oil. Lightly brown all sides of the meat. The meat is perfectly browned when you can lift off the hot surface of the pan without forcing the meat to lift.
Pour the water and lime juice into the dutch oven along with the lamb. Cover the pot and then place it into the oven. Cook until the internal temperature of the lamb reaches your liking. This will take about 40 – 60 minutes depending on how hot your oven runs. I begin testing at 30 minutes and then every 5 minutes until I reach the temperature we like.
Remove from the oven and set aside for 5 minutes before slicing.
While the meat is cooking make the tabbouleh couscous:
In a large shallow frying pan that has a lid preheat over medium-low heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and then stir in the couscous. Cook until lightly toasted.
Add the water, stir, and then cover with a lid. Lower to a very low simmer and cook for 8 – 10 minutes until the water has almost disappeared.
Turn off the heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and then place into a large mixing bowl. Let the couscous come to room temperature.
Combine the 1/4 cup of olive oil with the garlic and lemon juice in a small jar. Shake to combine. Set aside.
Mince the parsley and mint and add to the cooled couscous. Stir in the tomatoes and red onion along with the dressing. Stir.
Season to taste with salt.
Place the tabbouleh onto a serving place and top with thin slices of lamb. Reduce the lamb juices and serve alongside.