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6 Tips to Make the Perfect Holiday Lamb Roast

6 Tips to Make the Perfect Holiday Lamb Roast

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Some fool-proof tips on a classic dish for the holidays

Celebrate the change of season with lamb, a flavorful entrée option that’s perfect for holiday get-togethers.

Lamb is a staple of the spring, often present on holiday tables across the country. Whether it’s a leg, crown roast, loin, shoulder, or rack, the golden brown crispy exterior and tender roasted lamb makes the ideal main dish for your holiday meal. Make the perfect lamb roast with some tips from Megan Wortman, executive director of the American Lamb Board.

1. For example, a butcher can remove the bone from a leg of lamb, or "french" a rack of lamb, simplifying your prep work.

2. For best results, bring the meat to room temperature before cooking it.

3. Sear the outside of the meat for the first 10 to 20 minutes, sealing in the meat's juices and flavors.

4. Roast slowly at 325 degrees F for approximately 15 to 20 minutes per pound.

5. Let the meat rest for 15 minutes after removing it from the oven, to help it retain its juices.

6. For medium rare, cook meat to an internal temperature of 135 degrees; for medium, cook to an internal temperature of 150 degrees. Keep in mind that the temperature of the meat will rise another 5 to 10 degrees after it's removed from the oven.

Test out these tips and tricks in a simple, fresh take on a holiday meal with Roasted Boneless Leg of Lamb with Potatoes, Leeks, and Mint Salsa Verde.

This article was originally published March 18, 2015.

6 Tips to Make the Perfect Holiday Lamb Roast - Recipes

If you&rsquove never cooked a lamb roast before, I&rsquom here to tell you it&rsquos one of the simplest and most satisfying things you can make. All it takes is a few on-hand ingredients and a little time. During which your house will fill with the most wonderful cooking smells you can imagine.

When I say &ldquolamb roast&rdquo what I mean is a boneless leg of lamb. Look for it at your supermarket, but you might have to go to your local butcher. After they remove the bone, the meat can basically be rolled up into a nice cylinder which makes it perfect for roasting and slicing.

In fact, once the leg is boned and rolled up for roasting, it&rsquos a lot like a pork loin roast in both shape and size. So I use the same cooking method I use for perfect roast pork loin, starting the lamb in a moderate oven, letting it rest once it gets to the right temperature, and then blasting it in a very hot oven to brown and crisp it up. After that you just carve&mdashno need for resting at the end because it rested already!&mdashand serve.

But there&rsquos one key difference. With pork, you want to cook it to at least medium. But lamb can be eaten anywhere from rare to well done. (Medium-rare is perfection if you ask me.) So there&rsquos a bit more finesse to deciding it&rsquos done. But just a bit!

Before roasting I like to unroll the meat, season it inside and out, and then roll it back up, tying it so the roast holds its shape. If you&rsquod rather not do the tying, ask your butcher to do it, then just skip seasoning the inside, using all the seasonings in the recipe on the outside. Also, sometimes a boneless leg of lamb comes in a sort of net bag, all ready for the oven. In that case, again, just season the outside of the meat, then roast it right in the netting (but remove the netting before carving).

Note that all of what I&rsquom saying applies to a boneless leg of lamb roast. Roasting a bone-in leg, a rack of lamb, a lamb loin, or chops&mdashthat&rsquos for another post. :)

Cook's Notes

Making Gravy
While lamb is resting, remove rack from roasting pan and place pan across 2 burners over medium-high heat. Add wine to the drippings in the pan, bring to a simmer, and reduce by half, scraping up any brown bits with a wooden spoon. Whisk in 1 1/4 cups broth and return to a simmer. Whisk together remaining 1/4 cup broth and flour in a small bowl, then whisk into wine mixture. Simmer until thickened slightly, less than 1 minute. Add any accumulated juices from platter or carving board and pour through a fine sieve into a bowl. Ladle into a gravy boat and serve with lamb.

Lamb may not be as popular as chicken or pork for an everyday meal, but we're here to convince you that this meat really is just as versatile and special as the others in your weekly rotation. The most common cuts of lamb include lamb loins, ground lamb, lamb shoulder, and leg of lamb. While some cuts are more suited to casual weeknight meals&mdashsuch as ground lamb for burgers or lamb loins&mdashothers, like a rack of lamb, are best for an extra-special holiday dinner. Ahead, we're sharing our favorite lamb recipes that will inspire you to cook with this protein more often.

Our Lamb Shoulder Barbacoa, pictured here, is a labor of love but it's just right for a summertime meal. Start by creating a paste of ancho chiles, light brown sugar, chipotle in adobo sauce, the juice and zest of a few limes, and spices. Marinate the lamb shoulder in the paste, then wrap the meat in banana leaves and grill over indirect heat for two hours until it's tender and succulent. The result is a delicious, flavorful meat that you can pile into tortillas and top with salsa verde, sliced radishes, and sour cream.

If you want to get dinner on the table in less than one hour, prepare our Zucchini, Lamb, and Summer Squash Kebabs with Buttermilk Dill Marinade. They're the perfect light summer meal and a great way to highlight seasonal produce and a top-round leg of lamb. On a chilly night, make our Lamb and Bulgur Stew with White Beans. Simmer ground lamb with paprika, diced plum tomatoes, and bulgur in water towards the end of the cooking process, add cannellini beans, baby spinach, and feta cheese until everything is cooked through. It's a hearty dish that you simply can't pass up when the weather turns frosty.

Whether you start by serving something like our Crown Roast of Lamb with Pilaf Stuffing for Christmas dinner or our Grilled Lamb Burgers with Yogurt-Feta Sauce to celebrate the start of summer, you'll quickly see that lamb recipes deserve a place on your table all year long.

To make this classic holiday ham, lacquer a smoked Virginia ham with mustard and brown sugar, dot its surface with pineapple rings and maraschino cherries, and coat with a garlicky pineapple sauce before baking.

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Approaches to Cooking a Crown Roast

My goal here is to offer a solid method for cooking a crown roast of lamb, with the highest priority being that we don't risk ruining the meat. That objective forced me to make some fundamental decisions about how I was going to cook and serve it, and the first is whether or not to stuff it before roasting.

See, crown roast recipes often call for stuffing or adding a crust before cooking. They look more grand that way, which is a bonus as far as presentation is concerned. But stuffings and crusts also introduce variables that make creating a master crown-roast recipe difficult, since different crusts and stuffings have different moisture levels and densities, and therefore different cooking times. Some have raw meat or eggs and require higher cooking temperatures to be fully cooked.

That doesn't mean it's not possible to cook a stuffed crown roast successfully it just adds a variable that increases the chance of things going wrong. It's exactly like a turkey: Yes, you can stuff it, but if your goal is perfectly cooked meat, the easiest thing is to take that stuffing out of the equation by cooking it separately.

There's another problem with stuffing. On a crown roast, there's a cap of fat that covers the loin on the inner wall of the crown. If we were cooking the racks separately, we'd sear that fat cap, rendering some of the fat while crisping its surface to a delicious crust. But when it's hidden on the inner wall of the roast, there's no easy way to sear it. (I even tried a blowtorch—it's possible, but a little awkward.)

Considering all of this, I decided that the best method is to cook the crown roast by itself so that the focus is on getting the meat just right and the surface as browned as possible. Then, as an optional step, we can stuff it afterward with a premade dressing.

In the photos here, I'm using warm couscous with dried fruits and pistachios, but really you can do almost any kind of dressing or stuffing. If it seems like too much of a pain to stuff the crown roast after cooking solely for presentation's sake, you can absolutely skip it and serve whatever you want on the side.

Season lamb generously with salt and pepper on all sides. Place inside two gallon-sized zipper lock bags along with optional aromatics (for particularly large racks, split into 4 four-rib sections and use more bags as necessary). Squeeze out as much air from bags as possible with hands and close zipper lock, leaving one-inch un-sealed. Slowly submerge lamb in large pot of water, until only sealing edge of bags is exposed. Any remaining air should be forced out of bag as it is submerged. Seal bag completely. Repeat with remaining bags, then set all bags aside.

Heat at least two gallons of water on the stovetops to 130 degrees for medium rare or 145 degrees for medium, using instant-read thermometer to ensure temperature accuracy (in some homes, the hot tap may be hot enough without having to use the stovetop). Pour water into picnic-size chest cooler. Add water until cooler is filled with water at desired temperature, sealing cooler in between additions in order to retain heat. Add lamb to cooler, seal, and set it warm spot for at least 45 minutes, and up to three hours, checking temperature of water after 15 minutes to ensure that it isn't losing heat too rapidly (water should lose at most 1 degree of temperature after 15 minutes—if it has lost more, top up with boiling water, and drape cooler with several bath towels to help insulate.

Remove lamb racks from bags, discard aromatics (if using), and pat dry with paper towels. Heat oil in heavy-bottomed 12-inch stainless steel, cast iron, or non-stick skillet over high heat until lightly smoking. Add lamb to skillet fat-side down and sear until well-browned on all sides, turning with tongs as necessary, about 5 minutes total (for particularly large racks, sear lamb in two batches, tenting first batch with foil after searing to retain heat). Tent seared lamb with foil, allow to rest 5 minutes, carve, and serve.

Light large chimney starter 3/4 filled with charcoal (4 quarts, about 75 briquettes), and burn until coals are coated in thin layer of gray ash, about 20 minutes. Empty coals and spread evenly over half of grates. Position grill grates on top of grill, cover grill, and heat until grate is hot, about 5 minutes. Scrub grill clean with grill brush if necessary. Meanwhile, remove lamb racks from bags, discard aromatics (if using), and pat dry with paper towels. Rub lamb racks evenly with oil. Place racks, fat-side down over coals and grill until well browned on all sides, about 6 minutes total, moving lamb to cooler side of grill as necessary to avoid flare-ups. Remove lamb from grill, tent with foil, allow to rest 5 minutes, carve, and serve.

Roast Leg of Lamb

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An easy, flavorful Roast Leg of Lamb is perfect for Easter Dinner this year. Tender bone in whole Leg of Lamb roast with fresh rosemary and garlic cloves.

Like Prime Rib, Leg of Lamb is a simple Main Dish Recipe that makes for a stunning Easter dinner and is so much easier than it looks!


This delicious and easy lamb recipe is perfect for holiday dinner even if it’s your first time making Leg of Lamb. If you follow some simple guidelines and tips below, you can easily get a flavorful roast lamb every time. There is also a step by step if it’s your first time carving a Leg of Lamb.

One of the most important keys to cooking a beautiful Roast Leg of Lamb is to buy your lamb leg from the butcher and not from the grocery store meat aisle. You want a fresh young (but not too young) lamb and to have the butcher trim the thick outer layer of fat off to make sure it won’t taste like older, tougher mutton.

You can ask the butcher to include the lamb shank but it’s not necessary, unless you plan on using the bones to make a stock later. You do want a bone in lamb for a more naturally flavorful Roast Leg of Lamb, but the shank is more for looks.

Leg of Lamb doesn’t need a marinade, it is a naturally tender cut so leaving in a marinade too long can actually make the meat tougher. Herbs like fresh rosemary or sprigs of thyme plus garlic cloves are enough to make a flavorful lamb roast that is tender and juicy, and easier for you to make!

The cooking time for this Leg of Lamb recipe is for a medium rare to medium roast lamb. Like a Prime Rib, a whole leg of lamb is a large cut of meat so there will be a few cuts that are rare and medium well so your Easter dinner guests are sure to get the cut they like best.

Roast Leg of Lamb goes best with side dishes that won’t overpower the rustic, naturally flavorful roast lamb. For a simple and delicious Easter Dinner, serve Leg of Lamb with Parmesan Smashed Potatoes, Roasted Vegetables, and French Bread Rolls. Mint jelly is a traditional topping for Leg of Lamb, use the bonus recipe below to turn a store bought mint jelly into a tasty sauce.

Can you make Roast Leg of Lamb in the Slow Cooker?

To make Slow Cooker Leg of Lamb, use a bone in lamb leg about 4 pounds. Prepare and season the lamb according to the recipe instructions. Place lamb in slow cooker. Add 2 cups beef stock to the slow cooker around the lamb. Cook on low for 10 hours. Remove from slow cooker and place lamb fat side up in roasting pan. Drizzle oil on lamb and bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes to brown.


Roast Turkey

Baked Ham (with Brown Sugar Glaze)

HoneyBaked Ham (Copycat)

Perfect Garlic Prime Rib


  • Ingredients: 2 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup vinegar, 1 jar mint jelly, 1/3 cup minced mint leaves, 1 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Simmer sugar, water, and vinegar in a sauce pan over medium low heat for 5 minutes.
  • Whisk in mint jelly until well combined.
  • Stir in lemon juice and mint.
  • Serve alongside Roast Leg of Lamb or store for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.


    • After the lamb has rested for 15 minutes, place on a clean cutting board.
    • The bone runs fairly close to the middle at an angle, so you can start carving either side of meat.
    • Slice the roast lamb meat across the grain. Cut straight down to the thickest part of the meat until you reach the bone (like a bone in ham). The cuts are going to be perpendicular to the bone (like a lowercase t) and the meat will still be attached.
    • To cut the slices off of the bone, turn your knife so it’s going the same direction of the bone. Starting at the furthest end of the bone, cut slices off the bone keeping knife close to the bone.
    • If there is leftover meat on the bone, carefully slice off or use bone for a rich stock for Lamb Stew.


    Garlic Roasted Red Potatoes

    Scalloped Potatoes

    Sautéed Green Beans

    Piccadilly Carrot Soufflé (Copycat)


    • Serve: Roast Leg of Lamb can be at room temperature for up to 2 hours before it should be stored.
    • Store: Cool lamb roast completely before placing in an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 4 days.
    • Freeze: Make sure lamb is completely cool so no moisture collects. Store in the freezer for up to 2 months in a sealed container or freezer safe bag.


    Roast Leg of Lamb is fully cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees, according to the USDA Food Safety Website. Measure the doneness by using a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the leg of lamb without hitting bone.

    The Best Roast Chicken - Easy

    Roast chicken makes a popular alternative in the Sunday roasts because it is a much lighter, healthier meat with a lower fat content than red meats and has another advantage most of this fat is monounsaturated.

    Roast chicken is very popular in the summer months when the weather (may) often be warmer so traditional roasts are not as popular.

    Roast the Leg of Lamb

    Some recipes will have you turn the roast every 20 minutes so that it cooks evenly. This isn't a bad technique, but it is kind of a hassle and means you can't use a probe thermometer while roasting. Plus, every time you open the oven door you slow down the cooking.

    Instead, try using a technique where you start at a high temperature like 425 F for about 20 minutes, then lower the heat to 325 F and cook it the rest of the way. For a leg of lamb, that means until the probe thermometer reads 140 F for medium-rare (150 F for medium). For a 6 to 9-pound leg of lamb, this whole process should take about two to three hours.

    Once the lamb reaches 140 F, take it out of the oven, tent it with foil, and let it rest for about 20 minutes. This will let the juices redistribute throughout the meat and also allow the meat to hit its target temperature of 145 F.

    Watch the video: Jehněčí kýta na víně s rajčaty - videorecept (May 2022).


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