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Recipes and Stories

4 April 2015 Mastering the Make-Ahead Easter Dinner IV

Boning and butterflying makes it possible to roast a leg lamb more quickly and evenly without the tending required of a bone-in joint

For the last couple of days, I’ve been looking longingly at this beautiful whole leg of lamb that I bought and wishing it could be left that way. I kept rehearsing the impossible: Surely there was some way I could miraculously roast it whole and still have Easter Dinner done shortly after we got home from church. Well, there really isn’t.

This morning, I finally took the thing out, took one last longing look at it, and said “Get over yourself and get this job done.”

Armed with a tourné knife (a trimming or peeling knife with a hawk’s beak hook to it) and a boning knife, I removed the fell and had it boned and butterflied in all of about ten minutes. The leg bones and trimmings will go into a stock pot this evening for gravy and the now trimmed and flattened meat is ready to roast.

There was nobody to tend a whole roast while I warbled away in the choir. Unless I wanted to have Easter Dinner in the evening, instead of midday after church, butterflying that leg was the only way have it done in a short period of time.

So, I won’t have that beautiful bone-in joint to display at the table: I’ll carve it in the kitchen and we’ll all be just as happy.

Roast Butterflied Leg of Lamb
Though this isn’t cooked ahead, boning and butterflying the leg makes it cook more quickly, with a minimum of last minute fuss.
Serves 8-10

1 whole leg of lamb, about 6-7 pounds or 1 boned leg of lamb and 2 pounds meaty lamb neck bones
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
Salt and whole black pepper in a mill
2-3 whole cloves garlic cut into slivers

1. If using a whole leg, remove the fell (tough outer layer of fat and membrane if necessary Find bones and make a slit between leg muscled on inside of leg along line of bone. Cut away meat, scraping at joints, and keeping each lobe muscle intact. I take off the whole shank along with the rest of the leg. Lay the muscles flat, trimming any connective tissue as needed so that it lies flat. If using leg already boned by butcher, remove netting and open meat out flat. Trim away the excess fat. Lightly pound thicker parts with mallet to even thickness. Wrap the meat, cover, and refrigerate until 1 hour before cooking.

2. When you’re ready to roast the lamb, preheat the oven to 450° F. Make a few slits in the lamb and insert slivers of garlic into them. Rub the surface with salt and pepper and cover with chopped thyme and oregano. Drizzle with olive oil. Rub bottom of roasting pan with olive oil and put in lamb, fat side up. Roast 20 minutes, or until well-seared, and reduce temperature to 375 degrees. Roast to the desired level of doneness (an internal temperature of 125 degrees for rare, 145 degrees for medium).

3. Remove the meat to platter, loosely cover with foil, and let rest 15 minutes. Meanwhile, you may deglaze the roasting pan with wine or stock and make pan gravy. Thinly slice across grain of meat, arrange on platter, and garnish with sprigs of herbs, if desired.

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