Savory, Slow-braised, Spice-rubbed Leg of Lamb
It was my wife’s birthday a few weeks ago, and as is her tradition, she requested lamb and mushroom risotto for her birthday dinner. And I was happy to oblige.
Luckily, there’s an awesome butcher just down the street from where we live. I don’t buy all my meat from him, usually only when we have a special occasion. He’s not a fancy, artisan butcher. He’s a good, old-fashioned, halal butcher. And he’s fairly affordable–the leg of lamb was about 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs) for €33 (that’s about $6.50/lb).
I’ve also been experimenting with some spice combinations lately, particularly using turmeric. So, I created a little herby/spicy rub that, ultimately, helped bring out the lamb’s inherent richness. The braising technique is the same one I’ve used in otherrecipes, but the flavors added an additional dimension that was a welcome change.
I forgot to take a pic of the final dish (I had 8 hungry people on my hands!) but here are two from the prep stages.
Here’s the recipe. Eat up!
Spice-Rubbed Braised Leg of Lamb
For the Rub
- 4 garlic cloves (roughly chopped)
- 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 2 healthy pinches of coarse sea salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
For the Lamb
- 1 leg of lamb (about 1/2 lb per person)
- 3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
- Make the rub:
- Combine all ingredients except oil in a mortar and grind into a paste.
- Add olive oil and mix thoroughly.
- Prepare the lamb by making a series of diagonal cuts across the top, fatty layer. Turn the lamb 90 degrees, and make another series of diagonal cuts in the opposite direction. Your cuts should be diamond-shaped when you’re finished.
- Rub spices mixture on all sides of the lamb, making sure to get into any nooks and crannies.
- Let lamb rest at room temperature for 30-60 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350° F (180° C).
- Heat a large stockpot or dutch oven on the stove on medium-high heat.
- Sear each side of the leg of lamb until brown. Remove from pan.
- Add a teaspoon of olive oil to the pan, and add the onions. Stir to prevent sticking or burning.
- When onions are translucent, add carrots and stir to mix.
- Cook until carrots are just tender, then stir in wine, stock, and tomato paste.
- Gently place leg of lamb into pot. Cover and place in oven.
- Cook for approximately 3 hours, ladling cooking liquid over the top of the lamb every 30-45 minutes.
- Remove lamb from oven when it is fork-tender and easy to pull off.
- Put the leg of lamb aside, leaving remaining cooking liquid in the pan (it should be significantly reduced at this point). Let it rest for approximately 10 minutes.
- Place pan over medium-high heat and add an additional 1/4 cup of water. Mix thoroughly and reduce by about half.
- Using two forks, shred the lamb into bite size chunks.
- Pour the reduced sauce over the lamb and serve!