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Persian Roast Leg of Lamb
We ate a lot of leg of lamb when I was growing up, and whether it was roasted or turned into kebabs, my dad was always in charge of cooking it. I decided recently that it was time for me to tackle a roast leg of lamb myself. Naturally, I bought my leg of lamb from Lava Lake and turned to Cook’s Illustrated for guidance. The recipe below is based on one I learned in Cook’s Illustrated The Best International Recipe.
Instead of using the recipe’s recommended cilantro, thyme, paprika, and cumin, I decided to take advantage of a fresh batch of the Persian spice blend advieh. Made from nose-pleasing spices like cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, cardamom, cumin, and — the most magical ingredient of all — dried rose petals, it’s a lovely way to encourage and welcome Spring.
But if advieh isn’t your thing, I’ve included a few variations below so you can change the flavor to your favorite.
But I do encourage you to indulge yourself and buy some dried petals so you can try the advieh. Why just stop and smell the roses when you can eat the roses?!
Persian-Spiced Roast Leg of Lamb
Serves 6-8 | Prep 45 minutes | Roast 45-60 minutes | Rest 15 minutes | Whole30 compliant
1 cup chicken broth
1 boneless leg of lamb (around 4 pounds)
5 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly smashed
2 teaspoons dried mint leaves
4 teaspoons advieh
4 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon coconut oil or ghee
salt and ground black pepper
Place oven rack in lower-middle position and preheat to 375F. Place a roasting rack inside a large roasting pan, then pour the chicken broth into the roasting pan. Set aside.
Prep the lamb. Cover a work surface with a large piece of plastic wrap. Remove the string or net bag from the lamb, and place it – rough side up – on the plastic wrap. Cover with another large piece of plastic wrap and bludgeon with a meat mallet or rolling pin until the meat is about 3/4 inch thick.
Make the spicy fat. Place the garlic, mint, advieh, 4 tablespoons coconut oil (or ghee), 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a food processor. Blend until smooth. Rub half the spicy fat mixture on the meat, leaving a 1-inch border around the edges. Save the remainder of the spicy fat for later. (Am I mistaken in thinking that Spicy Fat could be an awesome band name?)
Roll it! Roll the lamb into a tight cylinder and tie with twine. It works best if you wrap it around crosswise every inch or so, then wrap it lengthwise a time or two. I am not skilled at wrapping, and I did it totally half-assed, but it worked out just fine. You don’t need to stress about roast wrapping, but if you want more guidance, you might watch this video. Pat the lamb dry with paper towels, then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
Brown it. Heat a large, non-stick over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or ghee). When the fat is hot, about 2-3 minutes, add the lamb and brown it on all sides. This takes a little time ’cause you want a nice brown crust all the way around. Don’t forget to stand the roast on its ends, too. Cook’s Illustrated used tongs in their instructions, but I had to resort to two wooden spoons. The process took about 10 minutes to brown the whole thing.
Roast it. When the roast is brown all over, place it on the rack and slide the whole thing into the oven. In a microwave or saucepan, melt the remaining spicy fat mixture, and every 10-15 minutes, brush the outside of the roast with the spiced fat. The meat will be cooked to medium rare when the internal temperature registers 130-135F, about 45-55 minutes. I like mine a little more well done, so I roasted for 60 minutes. Transfer the lamb to a cutting board, cover with a tent made from a big-ass piece of foil, and let it rest 10-15 minutes. Cut into 1/2-inch thick slices and devour. If you have juice/drippings in your roasting pan, you can strain them through cheese cloth, then use as a drizzle sauce for the sliced lamb.
Tastes Great With…
Make it a meal with these delicious sides.
You Know How You Could Do That
If advieh isn’t your thing – although how anyone can resist eating rose petals is beyond me – you can replace the dried mint leaves and advieh with the following:
This version will taste most similar to the advieh version: mildly sweet spiciness.
2 teaspoons dried mint leaves + 4 teaspoons Lebanese Seven-Spice Blend from Well Fed 2
This version is has more of a spicy bite with mild heat and a “sausage” note from the fennel.
1/2 cup fresh cilantro or parsley leaves + 4 teaspoons Merguez Sausage Seasoning from Well Fed 2
Moroccan Ras el Hanout:
This version has less heat than Merguez and a snap from the ginger.
1/2 cup fresh cilantro or parsley leaves + 4 teaspoons Ras el Hanout from Well Fed
The original Cook's Illustrated Recipe
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves + 2 teaspoons dried thyme + 2 teaspoons paprika + 2 teaspoons ground cumin
Spread the lamb with spicy fat.
Roll into a cylinder.
Tie with twine.
Give it an encouraging squeeze.
Brown on all sides…
…including the ends.
Place on a roasting rack over a baking dish.
Let it rest in a foil tent. HazMat gloves optional.
Admire the spicy brown crust. Ignore the weird shape of my roast. (First-timer!)
Slice and devour.
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I made the advieh and have been using it for various things. The best was on roasted chicken thighs. Yum!
Thanks for all that you do.
I can’t wait to make this over the weekend.
You continue to dazzle with your recipes, ideas and encouragement. I am so glad to have found your blog and cookbooks!
You’re so nice! Hope you like this recipe.
Just beautiful. We are lamb fanatics around here, and I have never found any better than Lava Lake. Can’t wait to try the advieh.
I have used your recipes for my Easter lamb for the past two years (Deconstructed Gyro Salad in ’12, and Baked Kibbeh in ’13). So amazing. This roast is on the menu for Sunday, and I can hardly wait! One question:
Could I pound, slather, and tie the roast ahead of time? If so, how many hours could it wait (refrigerated, of course) before cooking without adversely affecting the flavor?
How fun! I feel like we have an Easter tradition together 🙂
I think you could do the pound/slather/tie exercise on Saturday and let it marinate up to overnight, and it would be just fine. Enjoy!
Thanks for this lamb recipe we did it last Sunday just like you have here and it was phenomenal. My first attempt to cook a leg of lamb and we also used the Lava Lake Lamb and will also do so in the future but order more for a better price per pound?
Born and raised (in Boston) Persian here and I love, love, love this recipe! I made a batch of the advieh and even impressed my mom–yay!
I’m glad it was a hit! Advieh is so fragrant!