Hello folks, it's the football offseason (sort of), which means it's time for more recipe posts. In the last year I've seriously ramped up my barbecue and meat-smoking game, and this is a relatively simple recipe for everyone out there with a smoker and a grill. If you don't have a smoker, but do have a grill, this recipe easily translates to the oven. Now, let's talk about lambs.
Lambs are unbelievably cute creatures that are underrated for being internet video sensations. If you don't believe me after that first video, you'll believe me after this second one
THEY ALSO TASTE AMAZING.
Now, eating lamb isn't for everyone. My girlfriend says they're too cute to eat, which I can completely understand, though I don't agree with it. Without further ado, here's a leg of lamb recipe, which I found and adapted from the fine folks over at the Virtual Weber Bullet. If you're into smoking meat, it's a great resource for beginner and skilled meatsmiths alike.
- A 5-7 lbs. leg of lamb (however you can find it)
- Butcher's twine
- A good meat thermometer
- Fire gloves (potentially)
- ¼ cup of honey
- 2 Tablespoons of Dijon mustard
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 3 cloves fresh minced garlic
Now, if I'm being honest, this was my first attempt cooking a leg of lamb. I found a boneless leg at Winn-Dixie, bought it on a whim, and decided to make it because it seemed easy enough. Compared to other meats that are usually smoked, like brisket and pork butt, it's easier to handle because the cook time is much shorter. Since it's likely going to be sliced, you don't have to worry about the pull-apart effect you need for pulled pork, nor do you have to worry about it drying out as much as brisket. However, because the one I purchased was boneless, there wasn't much for the meat to adhere to. So for the purposes of this recipe, I tied it together using about 9 or 10 strands of butcher's twine. This makes a world of difference when placing the leg in the smoker and taking it out, as well as handling it before marinating.
Speaking of marinating, the marinade is eaaaaasy to make, which makes the prep process a cinch outside of tying the leg. Just take all of the marinade ingredients and mix well in a bowl. I substituted the 3 cloves of fresh minced garlic by using jarred, because I made this marinade around 11 PM on a Friday night and didn't feel like chopping garlic. Other than that, I held to the marinade as it's written above. Once I was finished mixing the marinade, I threw it and the leg of lamb into a two gallon Ziploc overnight. It looked pretty good when it was ready to go in the smoker
The next day I fired up my smoker to about 240 degrees and was ready to begin. I threw the leg in, put a lid on my smoker, then sat back and waited for about two hours. When I checked temperature after two or so hours it was right on schedule and had cooked to around 110 degrees. Lamb can be served medium-rare (around 130 degrees) and medium (around 140 degrees). I tend to like a little bit of blood in my red meat, so I shot for medium-rare. All told, it took about three hours at an average of temperature 235 degrees for it to reach 131 degrees.
Next comes the best part, THE SEAR. If you know the leg is near being ready to come out of the smoker (or oven), I recommend firing up your grill about 15-20 minutes before. A friend lent me his charcoal grill for this particular project, which worked perfectly (unfortunately I'm not sure how well this would work with a propane grill).
I fired up some coals, threw them into the bottom of the grill, and then placed a rack right over them. Be sure to leave the grill open. I had about two inches of clearance from coals to meat. Sear the entire leg on each side (to the extent that it's possible, at least) for 2-3 minutes. Watch out, because fat and juices will trickle down into the coals and cause flare-ups. I kept a close watch on the grill when this happened, and made sure not to use anything but fire gloves when handling the meat at this point.
After it's done searing, put the leg in a pan and cover it with foil so it can rest for about 15-20 minutes. This is what mine looked like before I sliced it.
Finally, after slicing, this what I got.
The results were great if I'm being honest. It was nice and juicy, and I ate way more of it than I should have. I'm going to revisit this recipe later on and do a few things to it, namely increase the amount of the marinade. I felt like I didn't have enough to sufficiently cover how much meat I had. I need some work on an even and more complete sear as well. But for a first effort, I think it came out wonderfully.