Recipe for Lamb Roast with Lemon & Oregano

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!

Lamb with Lemon & Oregano

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!

ALANNA's TIPS If oregano isn’t to your taste, consider ground fennel or rosemary. Next time, I will use just 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Before handling the raw meat, get out the roasting pan, seasonings and oils. That way, there will be no need to wash your hands in between steps. I think this recipe would work well for a bone-in pork roast too.

RECIPE for
LAMB ROAST with LEMON & OREGANO

Hands-on time: 15 minutes up front plus occasional attention throughout
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.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE (How many calories in lamb? How many Weight Watchers points in lamb?) Per Serving (made with 6T fat/2T fat): 501/427Cal; 34/26g Tot Fat; 15/11g Sat Fat; 95/85mg Cholesterol; 111/83mg Sodium; 22g Carb; 2g Fiber; 1g Sugar; 22g Protein; Weight Watchers 12/10 points
Adapted from Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros. With my connections to Finland, Greece and South Africa, all three cuisines featured in this multi-cultural cookbook with such gorgeous photographs, it was first on my wish list. Many thanks to Andrews McMeel Publishing for making that wish come true with a complimentary review copy! Farmgirl has modified the same recipe quite significantly, I especially like how she drops the lemon rinds and fresh garlic into the potatoes.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. In 2009, Kitchen Parade celebrates its 50th anniversary with a special collection of my mother's recipes. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Become a Kitchen Parade fan on Facebook!

Menu: A Fall Feast

Cheese Puffs

~ Lamb with Lemon & Oregano ~
(recipe above)

Roasted Cauliflower
or
Roasted Pear Salad

Extra-Crispy Apple Crisp

More Recipes for Fall Comfort Food

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Milk-Braised Pork Roast Cauliflower Risotto Chicken with Creamy Cider Gravy
~ more fall recipes ~


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Alanna,
I haven't roasted a leg in ages, I really should. I'm doing racks of lamb (with port demi-glace) for a party I'm catering this weekend and a lamb daube for a party two weeks later.
 
Off to look up how to cook a rack of lamb and what in heck a lamb daube just might be.

Lamb Newbie
 
I can't wait to try this. I LOVE lamb; especially grass-fed Colorado lamb. And it's one of the healthiest meats, which is why it's used in "elimination" diets for people who have allergies.
 
Hi Sally ~ So glad to strike a chord with you. I will tell you, twas DELICIOUS. We also picked up a whole lamb last week -- the intent is to grill it whole some time soon, make a party out of it!
 
Hi Alanna - this looks wonderful. Do you think it could convert to slow-cookery and still brown up (I'm worried about losing that stint at 425!) Maybe the solution would be to brown it on the stovetop, though it's nice to see a recipe that doesn't require that browning step. Thanks!
 
So glad to strike a chord with you too. I'll share a secret: we've starting browning ALL meat, putting even a little burn on it, even when going into the slow cooker. Over the weekend, we did a meaty chili with venison and some leftover pulled pork -- we browned both, quite hard, even the pulled pork which had been smoked/cooked already. It was an AMAZING chili, one of the best ever. Good meat, yes, but I really think the browning make a difference.

That said, I must start testing in the slow cooker again -- my brand-new one is kaput already and I'm feeling too cranky about it breaking after making three uses that I'm not excited to buy another.
 

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna