Summer is all about grilling at my house. There is something about the grill and fresh summer ingredients that always inspire me to try new recipes and even cook old favorites out on the open flame. Pretty much everyone feels comfortable throwing a few burgers on the grill but when it comes to larger pieces of meat the process can seem intimidating. In truth, it couldn’t be easier.
First, I only cook on a charcoal grill. I personally like the flavor that charcoal gives you and there’s always the option to experiment with different wood profiles; mesquite, cedar, etc. If you prefer a gas grill, just adjust the heat according to the recipe. One of my favorite things to cook is a boneless leg of lamb. It seems sort of fancy and different and I also happen to love the leftover lamb sandwiches.
You can very easily find a boneless, butterflied leg of lamb at your local butcher or market. No matter where we purchase it though, I find that I always need to do some additional trimming of the fat. Do not get me wrong – fat is good. You want a layer of fat on the meat to give it flavor but the fat on lamb can be excessive. I usually trim off anything in excess of ½-to-1-inch all around. Presto! Ready to marinade.
Once you’re done with the cooking process, it is crucial to let the meat rest for at least 5-10 minutes. First off, it will allow the meat to cook a bit longer and secondly, it will provide time for the juices to redistribute throughout the meat. You want the lamb to be medium-rare to perhaps medium because there is nothing worse than over-cooked lamb – trust me! We love to serve it with some grilled asparagus, crusty bread and maybe some corn on the cob but you should feel free to experiment. That’s the beauty of summer and grilling!
Grilled Leg of Lamb
1 boneless, butterflied leg of lamb, trimmed (about 4-5 pounds)
8 oz plain greek yogurt
¼ cup Dijon Mustard (grainy or smooth variety)
2 tbsp dried rosemary
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
Trim fat from lamb, place in plastic, zip-top bag and add marinade ingredients. You can mix the marinade first and then add it to the bag but I generally save myself a step and throw everything in the bag at once. Use your hands to smash the ingredients around in the bag so they are all mixed together. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour or more, while the grill is getting hot.
Before putting the meat on the grill, let the lamb sit at room temperature for a few minutes to get the chill off. When arranging the coals for the grill, pile up some of the charcoal on one side of the grill to create a “hot zone” and then put the rest of the coals out in a single layer for medium heat on the rest of the grill. You’ll know when the grill is the right temperature when you can hold your hand over the medium part of the grill for about 3 seconds.
Sear the lamb on each side for 3-4 minutes on the hot part of the grill (fat side down first). You will likely get some flare-ups as the marinade cooks down a bit but this will create a nice crust. Just be sure you keep the flames somewhat in check. If they get too high, control with a spray bottle of water. Move the lamb to the other side to cook and close the lid. Let the lamb cook about 15 minutes each side. You can check it with a meat thermometer—the thickest part should read 125-130 degrees for medium rare—or you can do what I do and press into the thickest part of the meat. There should be a fair amount of springiness or give left as you press down.
Take the meat off the grill and cover with foil. Let it sit for at least 5-10 minutes before attempting to carve. Do not skip this step! You do not want to lose all the juice by cutting into it too quickly. Slice thinly and enjoy!
Serves approximately 4 with leftovers.