Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Easter Lamb

Grilled Leg of Lamb
My husband and daughter love lamb. My daughter used to hate lamb, until she tried it. All it took was one bite and she was a convert. So when I asked them what they wanted for Easter dinner, the answer was a unanimous "lamb please." I usually convection roast my lamb but this time I decided to grill it. Steven was running errands so I was left with the grilling. I admit it -- grilling is not my strongest skill. But I was determined to grill the leg of lamb.

Once I started working on the grill, I kicked myself for failing to ask Steven to start the fire before he left. Have you ever noticed how hard it is to start a fire when you actually want one? Thankfully, we have a chimney (a metal cylinder used to start charcoal) and wax fire starter blocks. After a search through our garage, I found the chimney and the fire starters. I actually got the fire going. I was on a roll..... I know you are wondering, did I call Steven for advice? To be honest, I did have to call him once. (Yes, I did have to change some of the stuff I was doing). My husband is a minor grilling deity. (Which is why I don't have mad grilling skills). I had already gotten the fire going before I called him, so I thought that I was doing pretty well.
The grill is ready!
Grilled Leg of Lamb

The first step is the marinade. I like to marinate lamb overnight but if you have decided on lamb at the last minute, marinate it for at least for an hour. The longer you marinate the lamb, the stronger the flavor. I used a mustard-based marinade. I think this would also be great on pork.

Mustard Lamb Marinade:

Marinating lamb
1/2 C (120 g) of Dijon Mustard
5 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
1/4 C (60 ml) of Lemon Juice, Freshly Squeezed
1/4 C (60 ml) of Olive Oil
1 Tbsp of Rosemary, Chopped
1 Tbsp of Parsley, Chopped
1 Tsp of Kosher Salt
1 Tsp of Ground Black Pepper

Mix the ingredients together and rub onto the lamb. Loosely wrap the lamb in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.

Before grilling let the lamb sit for 30-60  minutes at room temperature.
Hot coals at last
Get your coals hot Hot HOT and place the lamb on the grill. I use a grill that has a good distance between the grate and the coals so I don't worry about flare ups (from the marinade dripping onto the coals). If you do not have a large distance between the coals and the grate, place a drip pan under the lamb and arrange the hot coals around the drip pan. 
Katie with the marinated lamb
We like our lamb medium-rare so I wanted 140F/60C to be the final temperature. Grilled or roasted meats continue to cook after they are removed from the heat, so I took the leg out at 130F/54C. (The ranges for lamb are: rare: 135F/57C; medium rare: 140F/60C; medium: 160F/71C; well-done 165F/74C).
Grilling the lamb

I initially set the top and bottom vents on the grill to full open.  The extra air feeds the fire and drives the grill temperature up significantly.  The high temperature sears the meat, creating a crust and sealing in the juices.  Because a leg of lamb is a thick cut I grilled it with the cover closed, trapping the heat in and cooking it from all sides.  Once the bottom was seared (about 10 minutes), I turned the lamb and seared the other side. 

After the lamb was seared I closed the vents about three-quarters of the way, reducing the heat.  Once the lamb reached 130F/54C, I took it off of the grill and covered it.  I let it rest for approximately 15 minutes, during which the temp continued up to 140F/60C.  It took a 4 pound (1.8 kg) leg of lamb (bone in) about 1 1/2 hours to grill. The result: beautiful medium-rare lamb.
A beautiful crust on the lamb
 The bottom line: will I make this again? Yes, I will. I think that convection oven roasting or regular oven roasting is easier but there is something about grilling. I like the taste and (I can't believe I am saying this) the adventure of grilling.  I really liked the mustard marinade; I will be using that again. I may try it on pork tenderloin.

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