I am a proponent of marinating meat without acid such as wine, vinegar, soy or lemon juice. Using an acidy liquid to marinate will eventually begin to “cook” the meat making it tough and leathery. By using olive oil, herbs and black pepper you give the meat great flavor and the oil helps break down the tough muscle making it more appealing in texture and flavor. Don’t use salt in marinating because this will draw out the juices of the meat causing it to be dry and tasteless.
Ask your butcher to remove the bone and gland and to butterfly the leg for you. Discard the gland (he will do this for you,also) and use the bone to make your stock.
The stock for the sauce can be made the day before along with the stuffing and the marinating of the Leg of Lamb.
1 6-7 LB Leg of Lamb, Bone Removed and Butterflied
1/4 Cup Roasted Garlic Cloves, Smashed
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1/4 Cup Roasted Garlic Olive Oil
Several Sprigs of Fresh Herbs Such As Rosemary, Parsley, Basil, Thyme
1 Cup Dried Cranberries
1 Cup Dried Apricots, Finely Diced
1/2 Cup Dried Golden Figs, Finely Diced
1/2 Cup Dried Mission Figs, Finely Diced
1/2 Cup Golden Raisins
1 Cup Madeira Wine
2 Cups Water
1 Cup Sliced Shallots
4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
3 Cups Fresh Bread Crumbs, Chunky NOT Fine
1/2 Cup XVOO
2 Teaspoons Sea Salt
1 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
2 Bunches Watercress, Large Stems Removed (About 8 Ounces)
6 Carrots, Cut Into Large Chunks
6 Celery Stalks, Cut Into Large Chunks
1 Large Onion, Cut Into Large Chunks
Lamb sauce for serving. Recipe follows.
Lay the leg of lamb on a board cut side up and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper, rub in the garlic olive oil and smashed roasted garlic. Lay the assortment of herbs on top of the meat and fold the meat over as if closing a book. Place the meat in a non-reactive dish, or pan, and rub the out side with any of the left over oil. Sprinkle with pepper and lay more herbs on top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
In a medium large sauce pan combine the dried fruit with the Madeira wine and the water. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Turn down the heat to a slow simmer and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool before draining. Drain the fruit and set aside the liquid.
Melt the butter in small sauté pan over medium heat. Once the butter becomes hot and bubbly add the shallots and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the reconstituted dried fruit, bread crumbs, olive oil, shallot mixture, salt and pepper and thoroughly combine. Add half of the reserved dried fruit liquid and the watercress and once again combine. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
After marinating the lamb overnight, remove the lamb and stuffing from the refrigerator and lay the leg of lamb cut side up. Remove the herbs and season with sea salt. Evenly spread the dried fruit mixture over the cut side of the meat. Roll the meat into the leg shape and tie with butcher’s twine every two inches. Bring the twine completely around the meat length wise to secure the ends.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (375 degrees F if using a convection oven) with the rack in the lower third of the oven.
Place the meat in a roasting pan on top of the cut up carrots, onion, celery, the herbs and garlic used to marinate the lamb overnight, and the reserved liquid from the dried fruit. Drizzle the roast with a few tablespoons of XVOO. Roast the leg of lamb for 1 hour and 30 minutes for medium. (140 degrees F on an instant read thermometer)
Remove the pan from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes before slicing. (You could cover the meat lightly with foil to keep warm for up to an hour keeping in mind it will continue to cook. This is a great way to get the meat a little more done then medium by using the residual heat of the meat instead of leaving it in the oven. It will stay very moist yet be a bit more done. You can also drain the juices from the pan using a baster or fat separator and add it to your stock before you make the sauce.)
The Bone From the Leg of Lamb
8 Carrots Cut into Chunks, Divided in Half
2 Large Spanish Onion Cut into Chunks with Skin On, Divided in Half
8 Celery Stalks Cut into Large Chunks, Divided in Half
1/2 Cup Fresh Garlic, Divided in Half
XVOO Olive Oil
2 Cups Madeira Wine or Red Wine
Preheat oven to 425º.
Place the bone and half of the vegetables and garlic into a roasting pan or large sauté pan and toss with olive oil to coat. Roast for 1 hour until the bone and vegetables are nicely browned. Remove all from the pan and place in a Dutch oven or stock pot with the rest of the vegetables. De-glaze the pan with the wine scraping up the brown bits. Pour this into the stock pot and cover the bone and vegetables with water by about two inches and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cover with a lid. Simmer for several hours (I like to let it simmer for at least 8 hours and many times I will let it go over night). Strain the stock and refrigerate until the fat comes to the top.
Remove the fat and make a roux using equal parts fat and flour (start with 8 tablespoons of each. The amount of roux you will incorporate into the stock will depend on how much stock you have.) Cook this mixture over medium heat for about 10 minutes stirring constantly. This helps reduce the flavor of raw flour and makes for a more delicious sauce. Bring the stock to a boil and add the cooked roux, a little at a time, whisking all the while ,until the roux is dissolved and the stock is thickened into a sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Strain into a serving bowl and spoon some of the sauce on to each persons slice of meat.