An easy way to roast a leg of lamb, using just a handful of pantry ingredients. The recipe produces moist and fall-off-the-bone tender meat that collects many compliments!
When I was a child, the Macks raised sheep on a farm out by the lake. Why my city-girl mother chose a farm visit the very day Mr. Mack docked the lambs’ tails, who can know? It must have scarred us all. Lamb never – ever? – made it to the family table and has perhaps once – maybe twice? – to my own.
That’s changed, however, with the delivery of a lamb raised by Farmgirl herself on a 280-acre, 140-year old Ozark-holler farm in what she calls ‘the middle of nowhere’ Missouri. (Yes, this farm girl has a name, Susan, but I really do think of her as ‘Farmgirl’!)
For anyone new to lamb, there’s something quite natural, primal even, about choosing a whole animal over plastic-wrapped cuts from the grocery store; knowing the lamb was raised in grassy fields, protected from weather and predators by people whose names I know. For anyone looking for farm-raised organic lamb in the St. Louis area, I am happy to recommend Farmgirl lamb. Susan couldn’t have been more helpful, from guiding the processing decisions (the cuts, the length of hanging) to delivery and even, naturally!, recipes.
Shortly after the lamb was delivered, Farmgirl shared her ‘less fuss, more flavor’ recipe for lamb, by happenstance already starred in Falling Cloudberries, one of my two favorite new cookbooks this year. (The second favorite? Seven Fires.)
Wow, what a recipe. It was simple to prepare. Rubbing the meat with herbs and butter really felt like cooking. After a long, slow roast in the oven, the lamb meat is fall-off-the-bone tender, the potatoes cook right alongside. Weeks later, I’m still getting compliments. You will too!
LAMB ROAST with LEMON & OREGANO
Time to table: 3-1/2 - 4 hours
Serves about 6
- 1 leg of lamb (3 – 4 pounds), on the bone, room temperature if possible
- Juice of 2 lemons (about 4 tablespoons)
- Kosher salt & pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 - 3 tablespoons butter (see TIPS), in tiny cubes
- 1 cup water
- 1 - 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1-1/2 pounds potatoes, skins on (or a mix of potatoes and peeled sweet potatoes), cut into bite-size chunks
- Kosher salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 425F. Rinse the lamb, then trim off excess fat and pat dry. Transfer to a roasting pan (choose one with a lid if possible and big enough for meat and potatoes both). With your hands, pat with lemon juice (see TIPS). Season one side with salt, pepper and half the oregano and dot with half the butter. Pour water around the lamb. Uncovered, roast one side for 15 – 30 minutes until a pleasing brown color. Turn over, season with salt, pepper and remaining oregano, dot with remaining butter and roast another 15 – 30 minutes.
Lower oven to 325F. Arrange the potatoes around the meat, sprinkle with salt and pepper and then toss in the liquid alongside, adding a little more water if needed. Cover with lid or foil and bake for 2-1/2 hours, turning the meat and tossing the potatoes once midway.
Slice and serve warm with potatoes on the side.
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