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A Leg Up

03/08/2016 02:37AM ● Published by Family Features

Spring celebrations wouldn’t be the same without one classic centerpiece: leg of lamb. Whether roasted or grilled, a leg of lamb is a tried and true addition to the Easter or Passover table. As elegant as it is, it’s also quite simple to prepare.

For a new take on tradition, swap conventional mint jelly with a vibrant salsa verde or mint-pistachio pesto for a fresh, but familiar, flavor that complements the rich taste of American lamb.

Boneless Leg of American Lamb
Follow these easy guidelines for preparing the perfect roast:

  • For generous portions, figure on one half pound of American lamb per serving.
  • Use a good meat thermometer to determine doneness. Medium Rare: 145°F; Medium: 160°F.
  • Remove the roast from the oven when the internal temperature reaches 10 degrees less than your desired temperature; it will reach desired doneness while it rests, allowing the meat’s juices to settle.
  • Carve the roast across the grain so the meat will be tender.

Find more springtime celebration-worthy American lamb recipe ideas at

Roasted Boneless Leg of American Lamb with Fingerling Potatoes, Leeks and Mint Salsa Verde


Mint Salsa Verde
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
  • 3 anchovy fillets
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3-3 1/2 pounds boneless leg of American lamb, butterflied
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 3 large leeks
  • 2 pounds fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Position rack in lower third of oven (so roast will be in the middle) and heat to 325°F.
  2. With food processor running, add garlic cloves. When finely minced, stop motor, remove top and scrape down bowl. Add parsley, mint, anchovies, capers, salt and pepper. Pulse until ingredients are finely chopped. Pour in 2 tablespoons olive oil and pulse to combine. Transfer about two-thirds of paste to small bowl and cover with remaining olive oil. Cover tightly and refrigerate until serving time, or up to 2 days.
  3. Lay lamb flat on cutting board with fat side up. Trim fat to no more than 1/8 inch. Turn meat over and trim away any large chunks of fat from interior, but leave the rest intact. Be careful not to trim away connective tissue that holds meat together. Season lamb on both sides with 2 teaspoons salt.
  4. Spread salsa verde paste over interior of meat to edges, rubbing into crevices. Reserve remaining salsa verde. Roll lamb up lengthwise into cylinder. Use kitchen twine to tie cylinder at 1 1/2-inch intervals. Tie another piece of twine lengthwise to secure ends. Allow lamb to sit at room temperature 1-2 hours before roasting. (If you plan to wait more than 2 hours before roasting, loosely cover and refrigerate roast, but bring to room temperature before cooking.) Pat outside of roast dry using paper towels before roasting.
  5. Trim dark green tops from leeks. Halve leeks lengthwise and rinse well. Pat dry and cut into 2-inch pieces. Put leeks and halved potatoes in large roasting pan. Drizzle vegetables with olive oil, season with remaining salt and toss to coat. Spread vegetables around roasting pan in even layer. Place lamb roast on top, seam-side down and transfer to oven. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of meat reaches 135°F for medium-rare, about 1-1 1/2 hours.
  6. Transfer lamb to cutting board and allow meat to rest for 20-30 minutes, loosely covered with foil. (The internal temperature will increase to 145°F.) Bring reserved salsa verde to room temperature. Toss vegetables in roasting pan to coat in pan drippings. If they are tender and browned, set aside in a warm spot while meat rests. If not, return to oven to finish cooking.
  7. Trim away kitchen twine and cut roast into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange slices over vegetables. Stir salsa verde to incorporate oil, spoon it over meat and serve.

Grilled Butterflied American Lamb Leg with Mint-Pistachio Pesto


  • 3 pounds boneless leg of American lamb, butterflied
  • salt and pepper (to taste)
Mint-Pistachio Pesto
  • 1 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1 cup fresh mint (leaves only)
  • 1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (to taste)
  • freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • pinch red chili pepper flakes


  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Lay lamb leg open on a cutting board. Trim off visible fat. Season lamb generously with salt and pepper; allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to grilling.
  3. Toast pistachios by placing in single layer in shallow dish or pan and baking 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. In food processor, add pistachios, mint, parsley, oil, vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, pepper and chili flakes; blend until somewhat chunky.
  5. Heat grill to medium-high. Grill lamb leg to medium-rare (remove from heat when thermometer reads between 130°F and 135°F), or to desired doneness. Rest meat, lightly covered, for at least 10 minutes before serving. Slice meat across grain into thin slices.
  6. Serve lamb with pesto, grilled vegetables and salad.

Sponsored by American Lamb Board

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