Lamb Main Dish Recipe Roasting

Classic Roast Leg of Lamb

With the holidays upon us my thoughts turn to what can I make for dinner that will be special.  I used to traditionally make a standing rib roast which was my present to myself every Christmas dinner.  When the price of doing so exceeded what I could personally justify for one meal my mind went to other proteins. Among them ham, chicken, Cornish game hens and lamb.

Of the four listed lamb is my favorite.  Occasionally I’ve had to turn my back on lamb due to the grocery stores seemingly jacking up the price right before the holidays raising the price of a single leg of lamb to $50 or more.  Supply and demand I suppose.

Assuming the price isn’t too high I have been working on perfecting the leg of lamb for many years.  When considering how to prepare it I quite often end up singing the Simon Garfunkel song Scarborough Fair “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme…”   Except for parsley those garlic and olive oil figure prominently in my preparation of leg of lamb.

I also use a cooking technique where I put the oven temperature way up (450F) for when I first put the lamb in the oven then lowering it for the rest of the cooking.  This gives the lamb a nice outer crust with lots of flavor from the maillard effect  and shortens the cooking time slightly.

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Classic Roast Leg of Lamb
Recipe type: Main Course
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 1 8-10 lb bone in leg of lamb
  • many cloves of garlic cut into narrow slivers
  • 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp powdered rosemary
  • ½ Tbsp powdered (rubbed) sage
  • ½ Tbsp powdered thyme
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • ½ Tbsp black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 450F
  2. Allow lamb to attain room temperature out of the refrigerator.
  3. Mix the rosemary, sage, thyme, salt and pepper in a bowl and set aside.
  4. With a sharp paring knife cut slits into surface of the lamb and insert slivers of garlic into the slits evenly all over the lamb.
  5. Slather surface of the lamb with olive oil.
  6. Distribute evenly over the surface of the lamb the spice mixture.
  7. Put into the oven and allow to cook for 15 minutes at 450.
  8. Drop the temperature to 375F and cook for one hour. Lamb will be done (medium rare) when an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part (don't hit bone) of the lamb reads 130F
  9. Remove from oven and let rest for 30 minutes
  10. Carve and serve.


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