This past weekend, I had big plans. I planned to spend my entire Sunday making this complicated involved lamb dish, then serving and enjoying it in a relaxed sit-down dinner Sunday night. Plans changed. We went to bed late Saturday night, then went to what was supposed to be a quick brunch on Sunday, but the restaurant accidentally included dairy in my eggs so I had to wait for them to remake it, then someone left his keys at the restaurant so we had to drive back across town to get them. Luckily, this dish ended up not being as super-involved as I thought it would be, and splitting it into steps over multiple days worked beautifully, maybe even better than my original plan. Funny how that happens, isn’t it :)?
So the final sequence of events went something like this (this might be helpful if life tends to get in the way of your big cooking day plans too): Saturday picked up the butterflied boneless leg of lamb that I had ordered from the butcher; Sunday morning went to the farmers market to pick up herbs and roasting potatoes and carrots; Sunday night marinated the lamb in the herb mixture, tied it up, wrapped it up, and put it in the fridge; Monday morning peeled and parboiled potatoes; Monday evening before spin class put the lamb in the oven; Monday after spin class made the mint gremolata and finally sat down to eat. So it ended up being a quick Monday night dinner instead of a relaxed sit-down Sunday roast. That’s ok – it was still delicious and totally doable!
One of the best parts of the overall dish was the roast potatoes. Jamie Oliver has a fabulous technique involving parboiling your potatoes and giving them a good “chuff” – this gets them nice and crispy on the outside, almost like they’d been deep-fried. His full instructions are here, but I’ve also included my adapted version below. I also adapted the lamb recipe from this recipe by Sylvia Fountaine on Feasting at Home. I hope you enjoy, and let me know how it goes in the comments below!
INGREDIENTS (makes 4-6 servings)
3.5- 5 lb leg of lamb -boneless, butterflied
½-¾ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup herbs (a mix of 2 or 3 of the following) thyme, sage, rosemary
1 cup italian parsley (about a ½ a bunch)
10 cloves garlic
1 T lemon zest
½ tsp salt
5 T avocado or coconut oil (or another high smoke point oil)
¼ cup good quality olive oil
⅓ cup finely chopped mint leaves
⅓ cup finely chopped italian parsley
1 T lemon juice
1 T lemon zest
1 T chopped capers
1 finely minced garlic clove
2 T finely chopped onion or shallot
Roast Potatoes & Carrots
5 Russet potatoes, or the equivalent amount if you’d like to mix up different types of potatoes
6 medium-sized carrots
Avocado or coconut oil (your high smoke point oil choice from above)
salt & pepper to taste
PREPARE THE LAMB (1-2 days in advance)
1) Remove lamb from packaging and pat dry. Trim away any large chunks of unwanted fat, but keep on the outer layer. Sprinkle all sides with ½-¾ teaspoon salt and pepper. Place outer side (side with fat) down.
2) To make the herb rub, place all the herbs, garlic, salt and pepper and lemon zest in a food processor and pulse until it becomes like very coarse sand. Add oil, scraping down the sides if necessary, pulse until just combined -not too smooth or oily- this should feel like a dry course paste. Spread ⅔ of the paste on the inside of the lamb.
3) Roll up the lamb with the paste on the inside and tie at one inch intervals. You can either do individual strings and knots or wrap up with one very long string. Score the outer layer of fat with a knife and rub the remaining paste all over the outside of the lamb.
4) Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 days. Make sure to bring to room temp at least 1 hour before roasting.
PREPARE THE POTATOES AND CARROTS (day of)
5) Peel your potatoes and rinse them thoroughly in cold water to get rid of the excess starch. Cut them into pieces about the size of a ping pong ball (they don’t have to be round). Cut your carrots into thick slices. Place your carrots into the roasting dish you plan to use for the lamb and the veggies.
6) Place your cut potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil then boil for 6-7 minutes, until they start to soften but aren’t fully cooked (aka parboiled). Drain in a colander and let steam for 3 minutes. Then give them a good “chuff”, ie toss them around in the colander so you get the edges all roughed up.
7) Add the potatoes to the roasting dish with your carrots in one layer, add your oil, salt & pepper, and perhaps some of your leftover rosemary, thyme, or sage from the herb rub if you have any. Mix them up so the oil and herbs are evenly spread on the veggies. At this point, you could cover your veggies with foil and refrigerate for later.
PREPARE THE FINAL DISH
8) Take the lamb out of the refrigerator about an hour before you’re ready to start cooking. Preheat the oven to 425F. Place the lamb on top of your veggies in the roasting dish.
9) Place in the oven at 425F for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 325F. Continue roasting for another 50 mins to 1.5 hours, until the lamb registers at your desired temperature (120-125F rare, 130-135F medium-rare, 140-145F medium, 150-155F medium-well). Remember that the size of the lamb will determine how long it takes to cook.
10) Remove the lamb from the baking dish, set aside to rest, covered with foil, for 20 minutes. The juices may start to run so make sure it’s resting on something with a ledge. Let the veggies continue to cook if needed but not more than 15 minutes. Remember that the more contact the potatoes have with the pan, the crispier they’ll be.
11) While the lamb is roasting make the gremolata. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl, making sure everything is finely chopped. Add additional salt and pepper if needed.
12) Slice the lamb and serve with roasted veggies & mint gremolata.