Tue Mar 20, 2012
A week at SXSW (where I managed to fit in five TX barbecue instituions during the madness of the conference) has left me really drained, luckily I have my first barbecue comp this weekend to breath life into my exhausted body. Each night I have plan to slowly get everything together, so when the alarm buzzes at an ungodly hour on Saturday, all I have to do is roll out of bed, jump in the van, and head down to Sheepshead Bay. While I have a plan for each category at this point, I still find myself second guessing my decisions. For example, I think I have a solid dish for the ambiguous "chef's choice," but is it's really unique enough? Will it wow the judges? Should I go for something completely different instead, perhaps this incredibly delicious rotisserie leg of lamb with lemon, rosemary, and garlic?
If you gave me a perfectly cooked lamb in a competition, I would be incredibly happy, although I'm not sure that's a shared feeling. For example, it's rare to have lamb at my house because the wife, while not adverse to it, would almost never prefer it. The rich and unique flavor of the meat that I enjoy so much, she finds a bit off-putting. So when I make it, I'm usually doing it for myself, and to me, there's no piece better than a leg of lamb.
While lamb chops can be a bit mild, and a cut like the shank sometimes too heavy, the leg strikes the perfect balance between flavor and smoothness. This also makes it an incredible choice for marinating—there's just enough wiggle room to introduce additional flavor into the meat.
For this beautiful butterflied leg of lamb, I used a fresh mixture of garlic, rosemary, lemon, and olive oil. The full-flavored and acidic marinade doesn't take long to do it's magic on the meat, so I only let it marinate for an hour at room temperature.
Out of the marinade, I tied this baby up and got it on the spit. Then over medium heat, it slowly rotated, self basting in its own delicious rendering fat.
To add a just a touch more flavor, I devised an herb brush as I had seen on Dad Cooks Dinner to baste on some reserved marinade every 15 minutes or so.
I'm a bit dubious on whether the herb brush really imparts much flavor, especially against something with a very distinct flavor like lamb, but it sure does look pretty, right?
Cooked to a rosy medium, the lamb was done. After being rested, I sliced and served, and boy was I a happy eater. The fresh flavors of the marinade came through in each bite of lamb, creating an all too fitting meal for this early spring we're having here in New York. I would think anybody who didn't love this lamb would be crazy, yet alas, my most trusted taster was not so enamored. This fact put my wandering mind to rest, knowing lamb may not be a universal best choice for competition, so I'll stick the game plan (which will all be reveled in good time).
Rotisserie Boneless Leg Of Lamb With Lemon, Rosemary, & Garlic
- Prep Time:
- 10 Minutes
- Inactive Time:
- 1 Hour
- Cook Time:
- 1 Hour
- Total Time:
- 2 Hours 10 Minutes
- Serves 6 to 8
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 butterflied boneless leg of lamb, 4-5 lbs, trimmed of excess fat
- For the Herb Brush
- 3 sprigs rosemary
- 10 sprigs thyme
- 1 disposable foil pan
- In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, rosemary, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and lemon zest.
- Place lamb in a large resealable plastic bag. Pour in all except 1/4 cup of the marinade, reserving for later use. Seal the bag and toss to thoroughly coat the lamb. Marinade at room temperature for 1 hour. Remove lamb from marinade and roll into tight cylinder and tie securely with butcher's twine.
- Tie together ends rosemary and thyme sprigs to create the herb brush.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on either side of the charcoal grate and place a foil pan between the two piles of coals. Run spit of the rotisserie through middle of lamb and secure ends with rotisserie forks. Place on the grill, cover, and cook at medium temperature. Baste lamb with reserved marinade using the herb brush every 15 minutes. Cook until lamb registers 125 degrees for medium-rare or 130 degrees medium on an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of the roast. Remove to a cutting board and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Slice and serve.