Red meat is one of the elements/ components of the Mediterranean diet that is high up in the pyramid, meaning that is should be eaten once to a maximum of a few times a month. Well if there is one period of the year that you should treat yourself with a delicious Roast Lamb leg, red meat component of the Med diet, this is certainly the end of the year and the beginning of the New Year.
Roast Lamb Leg it is an impressive dish on the New Year’s table even though it is more difficult to make than Turkey or Gammon, but at the same time it is also more delicious if prepared properly. Sheep and goat keeping has been in the life of Mediterranean people for thousands of years and their products in meat and dairy forms has been in the Mediterranean diet for equal number of years.
Lamb varies in tenderness and smell/flavor depending on the country of origin due to the food it’s fed and grasses it is grazed on. Mediterranean origin lamb has a distinct flavor recognized by most butchers and chefs. It should be noted that at all times fresh lamb should be preferred over frozen one but where no fresh lamb is available, frozen lamb is acceptable. There are many recipes for Roast lamb based on Mediterranean diet ingredients such as olive oil, herbs and vegetables.
Lamb meat is the most easily digested meat of all the meats and contributes to a healthy diet from a nutritional perspective. Lamb meat is an excellent source of proteins and contributes significantly to the iron zinc and vitamin B requirements of the body. In addition it should be noted that more than half of the lamb fat is monounsaturated, same as that of the olive oil, and typical of the Mediterranean healthy diet.
Roast Leg of lamb – the recipe
The first thing one should know when purchasing a lamb leg intended to be roasted is not to remove the thin outer fat known as ‘’fell’’. This fat, should not be removed because it helps roasted lamb leg retain its shape and most importantly its juiciness.
A lamp leg, about 4-5lbs (2-2.5 kgs)
2 Tbs virgin olive oil
2 strips of lemon rind
1Tb of freshly squeezed lemon
3 springs of fresh rosemary
1 tsp dried oregano
1 head of garlic
½ cup of red dry wine (if desired you can mix sweet and dry wine for a sweet after taste)
Salt and black pepper
The lamb leg should be removed from the refrigerator at least 2 hours prior to cooking and should be dried with paper towels.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (about 235 degrees Celsius)
Prepare the “rubbing’’ ingredients in a food processor. These are the olive oil, 3 garlic gloves out the garlic head, 3 strips of rosemary, 2 strips of lemon rind, 1 Tb of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 tsp dried oregano, salt and pepper.
Rub the entire surface of the lamb leg with prepared mixture, ‘’rubbing’’ ingredients.
Place the lamb on a rack in roasting pan and place in the oven for about 30 minutes, turning the leg midway the cooking period.
Reduce the temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, 190 degrees Centigrade, until it reaches your desired doneness. As a rule of thumb, one can use 25 mins/lb or 1hour/Kg.
Let the roast leg rest for about 20 minutes as this will allow the internal juices to be redistributed thus resulting to a juice all round leg.
Discard the fat as desired. It is suggested that some fat is kept behind for flavor and taste.
Carve the lamb in slices, the thickness of which is as desired.
Roast lamb leg can be served with own sauce and many assortments and accompaniments as the desire and imagination dictates.
Enjoy and Happy New Year!