No one knows lamb like the Greeks, Turks, and Arabs of the Middle East. Here’s how a leg of lamb might be grilled over a live fire by bedouins (Arab nomads) – rubbed with saffron, caraway, and cardamom and served with a relish of preserved lemons and coriander. Although nomads would roast the lamb leg over a wood fire on a spit, we’ve given directions for backyard grilling using a charcoal or gas grill with a rotisserie setup. The beauty of rotisserie grilling is that the roast bastes itself as the surface fat melts and rolls around the meat. Lamb legs aren’t always completely covered with fat, so even when using the rotisserie we like to baste the meat with some olive oil now and then to ensure even browning. If you don’t have a rotisserie, cook the lamb on your grill using medium indirect heat, turning and basting every 20 minutes or so. Alternatively, you could roast the leg over a wood fire with a spit.

Prep: 5 minutes (plus 10 minutes for marinade and relish)
Rest before grilling: 1 to 2 hours
Grill: 1 to 1½ hours.

– Rotisserie for grill
– Long-handled basting brush
– Heavy-duty heat-resistant gloves.

– If a whole leg of lamb is too big for your rotisserie (or just too much meat), use a half leg (4 to 5 pounds) and reduce the cooking time by 30 minutes or so. We prefer the sirloin or butt end (near the hip) because the meat is more tender. Of course, it doesn’t have the classic protruding bone of the shank half.
– If you want to grill-roast only a half leg but think you’ll use the rest of the leg meat for other meals, buy a whole leg and have your butcher cut a few thick lamb chops from the sirloin end of the leg. Then roast the rest of the leg.
– To carve a leg of lamb, slice off any bits of meat from the thicker sirloin end, then grip the shank (bone) with a kitchen towel and your hand. Run the knife from the bone end to the sirloin end as close to the bone as possible to loosen one side of the leg meat from the bone. Leave the meat attached to the bone and make thin slices down through the loosened leg meat. Repeat on the other side of the leg, and then cut any remaining meat from the bone.

– For smoky-tasting leg of lamb, soak 1 to 2 cups of oak wood chunks or chips in water for 1 hour, then add half to the coals at the beginning of grilling and half after the first batch dies out. If using gas, put the chips in a smoker box or wrap them in perforated foil and put directly over one of the heated burners.
– You could serve the lamb without the lemon relish, but we like its tart, salty counterpoint. To make a pan sauce instead, spoon off almost all of the fat from the drip pan and then scrape the remaining contents of the drip pan into a small saucepan. Also add any juices from the platter on which the meat has been resting. Bring to a boil and add about½ cup red wine and½ cup chicken stock. Boil until the liquid is reduced to about¾ cup. (Once the liquid boils, it also helps to pour the hot liquid into the drip pan and scrape the drip pan thoroughly. This deglazes extra
flavor from the drip pan. Pour the contents back into the saucepan. If you know ahead of time that you’ll be making a pan sauce, you could replace the aluminum drip pan with a shallow roasting pan that you can boil liquids in).

Indirect heat, medium (325° to 350°F)
3- or 4-burner grill – middle burner(s) off
2-burner grill – 1 side off
Heavy-duty drip pan set between banks of charcoal
Grate removed
Rotisserie set up
Indirect heat, medium ash
Split charcoal bed (about 2 dozen coals per side)
20 replacement coals
Heavy-duty drip pan set between banks of charcoal
Grate removed
Rotisserie set up
Indirect heat, medium ash
12-by-12-inch bed, 3 inches deep
Additional wood for replacement
Rotisserie set up.

½ cup Bedouin Dry Marinade
1 bone-in whole leg of lamb, 5 to 6 pounds, surface fat trimmed to ¼inch
½ cup olive oil
2 cups Preserved Lemon Relish.

1. Scatter the dry marinade all over the meat, patting it in with your fingers. Cover loosely and let rest at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours.
2. Heat the grill as directed, setting the drip pan(s) in the grill below the area where the lamb will rotate.
3. Slide the lamb leg onto the skewer of the rotisserie setup. Secure according to the manufacturer’s directions.
4. Put the skewered lamb into the rotisserie assembly. The lamb should be suspended away from direct heat and turn freely above the drip pan(s) as the rotisserie rotates. Cover the grill and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the leg (without touching the bone) registers about 125°F for medium-rare or 135°F for medium, 1 to 1½ hours total. Brush the lamb with the olive oil every 30 minutes or so. If your grill has an external thermometer, it should stay at around 350°F. If you are using charcoal, you will probably have to replenish the coals after the first hour.
5. Remove the rotisseried lamb to a large serving platter, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the skewers.
6. Carve the lamb (see Tips), and serve with the lemon relish.


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