"I love cooking meats, like this Herb Stuffed Rotisserie Leg of Lamb, on the rotisserie - the constant turning action keeps the meat moist and well basted. If you don't own a rotisserie you could also make this in the oven. It's all good!'
The making of Herb Stuffed Rotisserie Leg of Lamb
Tender roasted lamb - a deep meaty flavorful crust - with a deliciously robust and flavorful filling... What more can you want?
Oh wait, there's the mostly hands-off cooking method since the rotisserie does all of the basting for you; and that it also leaves delicious left-overs for you to make an easy weeknight meal of Gyros with a Tzatziki sauce, or in my case, the sauce I used for my recipe for Greek Meatballs with Yogurt Dipping Sauce.
I love things that do double duty don't you? And when each one tastes completely different ... that's even better.
I had a leg of lamb in the freezer and since it's springtime (well, technically it's still springtime although it seems half the country can't shake their winter blues and the other half has skipped spring entirely) I wanted to cook it up for Sunday night dinner. Normally, when I have a leg of lamb, I cut it into pieces and make a slow-braised lamb in a red wine sauce, or Lamb Provencal, as it is called. Lamb Provencal is so freezer-friendly it's like cooking two meals at once, and a leg of lamb is really too large for my family so I like having that second dish in the freezer for a quick nighttime dinner. But the day was beautiful, sunny with blue skies and that made me want to use my grill and rotisserie. A rotisserie is such a wonderful tool for cooking as its turning keeps the juices flowing and constantly bastes the meat.
Cooking with the rotisserie is pretty much totally "hands-free".
And when I can cook delectably tender juicy meats, with no fuss and no muss, I'm there.
So what to flavor the lamb with? Garlic is a no-brainer. I love garlicky lamb. Rosemary, yep. Got fresh in the garden along with marjoram, oregano, and thyme, so the herbs are covered. Then I got to thinking about how mustard works as such a great tenderizer in my recipe for Rouladen and thought that would bring a lot of flavor to the party, so I spread some of that on too.
I was totally right, about both the tenderizing and added flavor.
When using fresh herbs, or even dried herbs, I like to sprinkle them over the meat rather than mixing them with something else, in this case, it would have been the mustard. I feel it gives me more control over the distribution, I won't get a big old clump of rosemary here, and the oregano there. And speaking of fresh herbs, if you have the ability to use marjoram in place of fresh oregano, I would use it here. Marjoram is close to oregano in flavor, but it's not quite as aggressive. I ended up using about ¾ marjoram to ¼ oregano. But if you only have one, or the other, use one, or the other.
How to Butterfly a Leg of Lamb
To butterfly a boneless leg of lamb, remove the string netting they place around to hold it together. You need to do this anyway, if you try to season the lamb with that netting in place, well, once cooked and ready to serve, you would simply be pulling all of the seasonings off with the netting. So even if you are not planning to stuff your leg of lamb, remove the netting and replace it with easy to remove butcher string. Open the lamb up so the fat side is outside, and then, using a sharp knife, cut the thickest parts into halves, not cutting completely through, just about ¾ of the way, and open them like a book. You can either use your hands or a meat mallet, not the tenderizing side that has spikes, but the flat side, to pound the meat into a more even thickness. This will allow the lamb to not only get seasoned well but also cook more evenly.
Once you have your lamb seasoned, roll it back up and tie with butcher's string at about 1 - 2-inch intervals; then stick it on the spit and tighten it firmly. To ensure you have a good hold on the meat, roll the spit with your hands and look for any unevenness in the way it turns, or movement in the turning action. Tighten more or rebalance the meat as necessary.
Now is the time to season the outside of the lamb. It's always easier to do this once it's on the spit than trying to get it on the spit with the seasoning already done. Something about your hands having a tendency to mess things up while trying to get the meat on the spit. So season after the meat is firmly in place. Rub all over with the olive oil and garlic, then sprinkle the garlic and regular salt over the top (don't worry, this will not be overly salted) and then fresh cracked black pepper, keep it pretty coarse. Now you're ready to cook.
Cooking the Roast
Prepare the grill for indirect heat. Heat to 375ºF. If you have a rotisserie, place the end of the spit into the motor; making sure the drip pan is under the meat, turn it on, watch it turn for a minute to make sure all your balancing efforts have paid off, close the lid, maintain the temperature, and leave it be, for about 1 ½ hours.
*So you don't have a rotisserie? You could still make this recipe on the grill, but it will be a little more hands-on. Prepare your grill for offset cooking, bring it to 375º and place your meat on the grids with the drip pan below; turn about every 15 minutes, or until done.
Don't have a grill? (Why not?) Then heat the oven to 375º, place the lamb in a roasting pan, and cook, uncovered, for about 1 hour, baste with the accumulated juice, and continue to cook if needed, until the proper internal temperature has been reached.
Let it REST!
I like my lamb medium rare so that's between 135º and 140ºF. Remember, the lamb will continue to cook while it rests. And rest it must. Resting allows all the juicy juices to settle down back into the meat. If you cut it too soon, all the juice will be on your cutting board. And that is not where we want it. We want it in the meat. Juice on the cutting board means dry meat on the plate.
Once the meat has been properly rested, remove the string
Thinly slice and serve
Herb Stuffed Rotisserie Leg of Lamb
I served this with Israeli Couscous with Favas, Feta and Mint, and a beautiful California merlot. It was a perfect Sunday night dinner.
Wine Pairing: Leg of Lamb would be considered heavy meat, so it requires a heavy robust wine - especially with the addition of rosemary and mustards. Serve this with a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, or Burgundy.
Herb Stuffed Rotisserie Leg of Lamb
- 1 3 ½ to 4 pound boneless leg of lamb
- For the Stuffing
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 6 cloves garlic finely minced or pressed
- ¼ cup whole grain mustard
- ¼ cup Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons finely minced fresh rosemary
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh marjoram or oregano or combo of both
- 1 tablespoon minced thyme
- For the Rub
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 - 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
- 1 tablespoon garlic salt + 1 teaspoon regular salt
- Fresh coarse ground black pepper
- Additional Equipment
- A covered grill with a rotisserie*
- 6 - 8 pieces of butcher's twine cut into 12-inch lengths
- A drip pan to catch juices
- Remove the netting from the leg of lamb. Open it up and using a sharp knife, cut the thicker parts of the lamb open to make flaps; open them up to make a flat, more even piece of lamb (it may not be entirely even, but try to get it as close to the same thickness throughout - you can also use a heavy meat mallet, not a tenderizer, to lightly pound the meat to an even thickness after you butterfly). Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper, then using a knife, or the garlic press spread the garlic evenly over the meat. Mix the mustards together and spread evenly over the inside of the meat. Sprinkle the rosemary evenly over, then the marjoram/oregano and thyme. Roll up tightly and tie with the butcher's string at about 1-inch intervals.
- Stick the spit through the center of the meat and secure both ends of the rotisserie. Rub the meat with olive oil and fresh garlic, then season with the garlic and regular salt along with a good amount of coarsely ground black pepper. Allow to come to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
- While waiting for the meat to come to room temperature, prepare your grill for off-set heat. Place the drip pan where the meat will be; and heat to 375°F. When the meat and grill are ready, place the spit into the rotisserie turner, and turn on - shut the lid to the grill and cook for about 1 ½ hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 135°F to 140°F for medium-rare. Remove to a serving platter and allow the meat to rest for about 10 minutes. Cut into thin slices and serve.