If you want a meal that will really impress your family and guests then Herb Encrusted Roast Leg of Lamb is the perfect dish. It does take some work but the results are just fabulous! It’s tender, flavorful, and succulent. This is definitely not an after work Wednesday type of dinner!
For me there’s little food in the world that is as wonderful as lamb. I don’t buy it often as it’s expensive but I was just given a semi-boned leg of lamb and I’m in heaven! Tonight I’m going to make it in a traditional Irish way. My husband isn’t crazy about lamb (that’s what I get for not marrying a good Irish boy) but one of my good Irish sons and his girlfriend are coming for dinner and I know my son is going to be very happy!
The leg of lamb must be brought to room temperature before roasting so I take the leg out of the refrigerator about an hour before I begin roasting it. I rinse then dried well with paper towels.
It will be roasted in an herb crust so I make fresh breadcrumbs. Please don’t try to do this with dried breadcrumbs. They won’t stick and you’ll be left with a naked leg! *blushing*
To make the breadcrumbs easier to make I first cut the bread into about 1 inch chunks. I used a good Italian bread.I pulse 1/3 of the loaf of bread in the food processor until they’re crumbs. I want to end up with at least 3 cups of breadcrumbs.
To prepare the herbs I mix rosemary, thyme, sage, garlic powder, and season with a little salt and pepper. I add this mix to the breadcrumbs. I mix them really well.
Then I add 5 tablespoons of butter to the crumbs and make sure all the breadcrumbs get buttery. The breadcrumb mixture should be sticky.
This is when I preheat my oven to 400°F. Mine tends to run a bit hot so I don’t want to do this too early.
I rub the leg with an additional tablespoon of softened butter.
I press the breadcrumb mixture on the surface of the lamb. I want the crust to be about 1/4 inch thick. I sprinkle the breadcrumbs with one hand and press it in with the other.
In a roasting pan I add the rack for my lamb. And because no Irish meal is complete without potatoes I arrange some baby potatoes and some sliced onions in the bottom and pour in about 1 1/4 cups of chicken stock.
My leg of lamb goes on the rack and the whole thing is covered in aluminum foil. I roast the lamb for about 30 minutes. Then the temperature is lowered to 325°F and I continue roasting it for 15 minutes per pound.
When there are 30 minutes left in the roasting time I check the temperature and, if it’s about 125°F I remove the foil. I’ll leave it in the oven, checking the temperature until the meat reaches 130° – 135°F.
I’ll let the roast rest for at least 15 minutes before carving and serve it with the potatoes, onions, and some lovely spring peas.
Herb Encrusted Roast Leg of Lamb
For the meat:
- One semi-boned leg of lamb (about 4 pounds)
For the herb crust:
- 3 cups soft fresh breadcrumbs
- 4 teaspoons mixed dried herbs: rosemary, sage and thyme
- Salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste
- 1 clove of garlic, chopped fine
- 6 tablespoons of butter, softened, divided
For the roasting pan:
- Potatoes (about 12 small baby potatoes)
- 1 large onion, sliced thin
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Remove lamb from refrigerator, rinse and dry with paper towels, and let come to room temperature – about an hour.
- Pulse bread slices in food processor until they are crumbs.
- Make a mixture of dried rosemary, sage, thyme, and garlic powder to equal about 4 teaspoons.
- Mix herbs and salt and pepper to taste with breadcrumbs.
- Add 5 tablespoons softened butter to breadcrumb mixture and work it around so the breadcrumbs are all coated with butter.
- Rub entire leg of lamb with the remaining tablespoon of butter.
- Press breadcrumb mixture on the lamb until you have a crust about 1/4 inch thick. (If you don’t have enough to cover the entire bottom of the roast that’s fine)
- Place rack in a roasting pan and arrange potatoes and onion slices in the bottom of the pan.
- Pour the chicken stock into the pan. You can add more if it evaporates while it’s cooking.
- Place the leg of lamb on the rack and cover the entire pan with aluminum foil.
- Roast the lamb for 30 minutes at 400°F then reduce the temperature to 325°F.
- Continue roasting the lamb, still tented in foil, for about 20 minutes per pound.
- Remove the aluminum foil for the last 30 minutes of roasting.
- Remove the roast when the internal temperature is 145°F for medium rare and 160° for medium. Allow roast to rest for at least 10 minutes before carving.