Leg of Lamb with White Wine and Herbs

This week marks four years since Judson and I got married, and seven years since we first met, so we are off celebrating in Tenerife (an Spanish island in the Atlantic) all week long!

But I would never leave you without some celebratory recipes, so here’s a lovely fancy lamb recipe to make next time you have (a lot of) extra cash and some (very fancy) company coming over. Here’s the thing: I was trying to get this made during February, which, over here in the UK is Lamb Lovers’ Month. I thought this would be the perfect dish to make in honour of that… but then I went to the butcher shop and realised how expensive a butterflied, de-boned leg of lamb is.

The answer: very.

Last year to celebrate our anniversary, I made prime rib and the world’s most complicated key lime pie recipe. They were both amazing, and I was so proud of myself for how delicious (and easy!) the prime rib ended up being. I rationalised it in my head because the cost of the prime rib was much lower than the cost of two people going out for dinner… but that is most definitely not the case here. I never had any idea how pricey lamb was, so as soon as I realised how expensive it is, I immediately realised this would have to be our anniversary dinner. And man, was that expense worth it.

I wasn’t holding out a lot of hope for this recipe: Judson and I are both marginal lamb fans at best (though I have made some pretty awesome lamb recipes over the past year), and the marinade was just kind of basic (I thought), AND the biggest problem? This is meant to be cooked on a grill, which I obviously do not have access to in a country that rarely crests 20 degrees Celsius. So I thought we’d mess it up (and I’m lumping Judson in here because you’d better believe he got involved once I found out how expensive this meat was).

But I was totally wrong.

You know how usually when you marinate something, it might become more tender, or it might become saltier or sweeter or something, but you usually can’t taste each individual ingredient in the marinade in the final product? (No? Just me?) Not so in this recipe: the marinade imparted a strong rosemary flavour and an amazing level of bitter-sweetness from the wine. Plus, the oil created a delicious crust and helped to seal in all the moisture. This lamb tasted like a perfectly tender, perfectly seasoned steak, and I think if I had been blindfolded there is no way I would have identified it as lamb.

The only downside to this recipe is that you have to procure for yourself a deboned, butterflied leg of lamb—but your butcher will be able to help you out there, and though the original recipe calls for a 4-6 pound piece of meat, we scaled down based on the butcher’s recommendation for two people (and still got two meals each out of it!). The marinade is easy and if you have an upcoming celebration, I’d encourage you to give this a shot. It is, without a doubt, the best lamb I’ve ever tasted—and definitely the best I’ve ever made!

The verdict:

5 spoons out of five. It was worth the price to try this, and hands down worth the ease with which we made it. I’m already hungry just thinking about the leftovers.

New! One year ago: Prime Rib of Beef

The recipe:

Butterflied Leg of Lamb

The directions:

Mix together all ingredients except for lamb.
Place lamb in a shallow dish and pour marinade over it.
Cover tightly and marinate in the refrigerator for 8-10 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.
Drain marinade and place meat in a large oven-proof dish.
Preheat broiler to medium, then place lamb approximately 6 inches from element.
Cook lamb in 10 minute increments, basting with additional wine in between.
Cook 40-45 minutes until lamb is pink in the middle but warmed throughout.
Allow to rest 5-10 minutes, then carve and enjoy.

The ingredients:

½ c vegetable oil
¼ c white wine + additional ½ c for basting
2 tbsp parsley, chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 bay leaves
1-2 tbsp rosemary, chopped coarsely
1 large onion, chopped coarsely
1 tsp salt
1 leg of lamb, boned and butterflied