Leg of lamb is one of the most traditional main dishes for Easter, and is not only delicious but makes a rather dramatic presentation. And this particular take on leg of lamb has a little spiral of extra flavor inside, and looks like it was more complicated than it really is to make.
Butterflied Leg of Lamb
When a cut of meat is butterflied it means it is cut almost in half horizontally, and opened flat so that it cooks more quickly and more evenly. In the case of larger, thicker pieces of meat, it might be sliced in more than one place so that it unfolds into a flatter cut of meat. Butterflied leg of lamb takes specially well to be cooked on the grill.
In this recipe the lamb is first butterflied, and smeared with an herby paste, and then rolled back up and tied. What this does is allow the seasonings to be distributed on the inside of the roast as well as the outside. When the meat is cut, your will see streaks of the lemon-herb mixture within the slices, which means that the rich, singular flavor of the lamb is nicely punctuated with the rub.
The herbs, oregano and thyme, along with the lemon and the garlic are very classic companions in Greek cooking, and perfect partners to lamb.
Cooking Lamb Perfectly
The big secret to perfect lamb? Don’t overcook it. Get yourself a reliable meat thermometer and use it! Click here to see what the American Lamb Board has to say about cooking lamb to safe temperatures. The temperature will continue to rise after it is taken from the oven, which is expected and planned for with these temperature guideline ranges. Make sure to let the lamb sit for 20 minutes before slicing.
I like to slice leg of lamb fairly thinly, but you can slice it thicker if you prefer. The creamy feta sauce is the perfect complement to the savory meat, with sunny notes from the lemon and dill.
Leg of lamb may feel like a bit of a indulgence, but around Easter this cut is often on sale and it is a cut well worth splurging on. Plus, when better to splurge on your family than a holiday? And if we can make a holiday feel festive in the midst of chaos than that is worth a lot.
Whether you are making this for Easter, or Passover, or just because you are looking to have a dinner that feels special and celebratory, a boned, rolled leg of lamb is a terrific treat.
Lamb is full of flavor, and when cooked to a lovely medium rare, the epitome of tender, pink. When you choose American Lamb you are supporting local ranchers and farmers throughout the U.S. The majority of American Lamb is pasture raised, with some lamb being finished on grain, and some grass fed their whole lives. Check the packaging if you want to know more about how your lamb was raised.
Did you know that the spring holiday season accounts for nearly 20% of U.S. lamb consumption? Spring lamb retail sales are now more important to our farmers and ranchers than ever.
This season, when you purchase American Lamb, not only will you be treating your family to something special, you’ll be directly helping families and farms in your community. We need to be mindful of our small purchasing actions can help industries that are struggling, and do whatever we can to help these businesses stay buoyant until better times.
Leftover lamb can be used in all kinds of ways. Sandwiches, obviously: pile thin slices on a halved baguette or some good thick peasant bread and slather on some of the feta sauce, or try Herbed Mayonnaise, Spicy Salsa Verde, Green Olive and Ramp Tapenade, Sriracha Mayo, or maybe just some leftover jarred pesto or another condiment you have in your fridge or pantry.
Slices can be added to a Greek Salad for a fantastic dinner or lunch later in the week. And I always make too much lamb in the hopes of a shepherd’s pie being on the horizon (which happily was the case here!)
Serve Greek-Style Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Creamy Feta Sauce with:
- Sautéed Spring Greens
- Garlicky Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan
- Green Beans with Tarragon Vinaigrette
- Artichoke, Feta and Roasted Pepper Couscous Salad
- Roasted Asparagus with Creamy Lemon Dressing
Greek-Style Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Feta Sauce
- 1 boned and butterflied leg of lamb fat trimmed (about 6 pounds)
- 6 cloves garlic roughly chopped
- ½ cup fresh oregano leaves
- 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Fresh dill or oregano sprigs to garnish the platter
- Place the garlic, oregano, thyme, 1 tablespoon olive oil and the lemon zest (reserve the juice for later) in a mini or regular sized food processor, and season with salt and pepper. Process until it becomes a paste (if you are a mortar and pestle type of cook, you can use that instead).
- Rub about 2/3 of the herb paste on the top of the lamb, the side that was cut for butterflying. Then roll up the lamb, and tie it well with kitchen twine at 1 ½ inch intervals to keep it tightly rolled. Rub the rest of the paste over the outside of the lamb, place in a pan or container, and refrigerate from 1 hour to 24 hours uncovered
- Take the lamb out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature while you preheat the oven to 450°F. Place the lamb in a roasting pan and roast for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 375° and roast for another 50 to 70 minutes. An internal thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the roast should read 125°F for medium rare.
- While the lamb is cooking or resting, make the Creamy Feta Sauce. In a small bowl combine the Greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, dill, and minced garlic. Add the feta and stir and lightly mashing it into the mixture, using a fork. Taste and season as needed with salt and pepper. Spring over some small dill sprigs, if using.
- When the lamb is cooked let it rest on a cutting board for 20 minutes. Slice the lamb against the grain, remove the string, and transfer to a serving platter. Sprinkle the reserved 1 tablespoon lemon juice over the sliced lamb and give the slices a light seasoning of salt and pepper. Serve warm with the feta sauce on the side.
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