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Roasted Leg of Lamb with Black Olives
Photo courtesy of Michael Harlan Turkell

Leg of lamb might be a quintessential Easter dish, but we’ll be making this dramatic iteration for dinner parties well beyond the forthcoming holiday. We found this recipe in the New Italian Pantry, chef Sara Jenkins’s wildly creative and gorgeous new iPad cooking app. Here, Jenkins (of Manhattan’s popular Porsena) departs from the traditional mint-lamb pairing with a rosemary-laced rub, then further amplifies the dish with a dusting of porchetta salt. Jenkins admits you could season the lamb with everyday salt and pepper, but we recommend making her flavorful seasoning on Saturday and cooking the lamb on Sunday--Easter or no Easter.

Makes 6 servings (plus about 1 cups porchetta salt)

Porchetta Salt

2 tablespoons roughly chopped garlic

2 tablespoons fennel seeds

2 tablespoons roughly chopped rosemary leaves

2 tablespoons roughly chopped sage leaves

1 tablespoon fennel pollen

1 cup fine sea salt


Roasted Leg of Lamb

¼ cup pitted kalamata olives

2 garlic cloves

3 sprigs rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped

1 sprig fresh oregano, leaves removed

One 4-pound boned and butterflied leg of lamb

Freshly cracked black pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1. Make the salt: In a food processor, pulse the garlic with the fennel seeds, rosemary, sage and fennel pollen until finely chopped. Add the salt and pulse until incorporated. Spread the mixture on a large rimmed baking sheet and let dry out at room temperature for 24 hours.

2. The next day, return the mixture to the food processor and blend until finely ground. Transfer the porchetta salt to an airtight container and set aside.

3. Make the lamb: Preheat the oven to 375º. Finely chop the olives, garlic, rosemary and oregano together. Using a paring knife, make small slits, about ½-inch deep, all over the skin side of the lamb and rub the herb mixture into each one. Spread any leftover herb mixture on the inside of the leg and tie the leg with kitchen twine. Season the lamb all over with the porchetta salt and black pepper. (Reserve the remaining porchetta salt for another use.)

4. In a large ovenproof skillet, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Sear the lamb until browned on all sides, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the lamb for about 1 hour or until the internal temperature registers 155º on a meat thermometer for medium. Remove the lamb from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before transferring to a cutting board to slice and serve.

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