Published March 1, 2013. From Cook's Illustrated.
Roast leg of lamb can be difficult—it cooks unevenly and is hard to both flavor and carve. We take another approach: Leave out the bone and bring on the bloom (of spices, that is).
Roasted leg of lamb can single-handedly elevate a meal from ordinary to refined, but cooking it well can be a challenge. Roasting a bone-in leg of lamb invariably delivers meat of different degrees of doneness. And a boneless, tied leg of lamb delivers a poor ratio of well-browned crust to tender meat and the unavoidable pockets of sinew and fat that hide between the mosaic of muscles.
We wanted a simple way to roast leg of lamb with a good ratio of crispy crust to evenly cooked meat. We also wanted it to be dead simple to carve and serve, all the while providing a ready-made sauce.
We decided to forgo bone-in and tied boneless roasts in favor of a different preparation: a butterflied leg of lamb. Examining this large slab of lamb, we realized an unexpected benefit of this preparation: We were able to carve out and remove the big pockets of intermuscular fat and connective tissue.
We seasoned both sides with kosher salt and let it sit for an hour. Treating the lamb this way provided many of the benefits of a brine: It was better seasoned, juicier, and more tender than untreated samples. Our roast was too large for stovetop searing. We achieved the best results by slow-roasting the lamb first and then finishing it under the broiler, which allowed us to further dry the meat’s surface and promote faster browning.
We then placed whole coriander, cumin, and mustard seeds, as well as smashed garlic and sliced ginger, on a baking sheet along with a glug of vegetable oil and popped the sheet in the oven. When the lamb was ready to be cooked, we simply removed the sheet, placed the lamb (fat side up) on top of the spice-oil mixture, and returned it to the oven to roast. We then added shallots, strips of lemon zest, and bay leaves. We strained the infused oil and pan juices into a bowl and whisked in some lemon juice, shallot, and cilantro and mint. This vinaigrette was meaty, aromatic, and fresh-tasting. Carving the perfectly cooked meat was as simple as slicing up a steak.list of recipes