A leg of lamb meets its destiny on the grill. Lacquered by fire, its gamy nuance is tamed and its affinity for the aromatics of forest herbs and garlic is enhanced. It is our opinion that lamb should never be cooked past medium-rare (135°F). Past that point it loses its moisture and succulence and begins to take on the livery flavors that folks who say they hate lamb think it tastes like.
Prep: 15 minutes (plus 40 minutes for garlic paste and rub)
Grill: About 1 hour and 15 minutes.
BBQ TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT
– Long-handled tongs
– Long-handled spatula
– Heavy-duty kitchen twine
If you have a bone-in leg of lamb, you can remove the bone. You will need a butt-end leg weighing about 5½ pounds to end up with a boneless 4-pound piece. To remove the bones:
1. Cut around the hip, or “aitch,” bone with a slender knife, following its contours with the tip of the knife. When you get to the socket of the leg bone, cut between the socket and the ball of the leg bone. Remove the hipbone.
2. Cut through the side of the leg closest to the leg bone, opening it up as you cut until you have exposed the bone. Cut around the leg bone until it is released from the meat all the way around. Lift the bone and cut around the other ball joint of the knee until you can remove the bone.
Or you can leave the bone in and make 1-inch-deep slits all over the meat and stuff them with the herb and garlic paste mixture from step 2. Proceed with the recipe as written, but you will probably need to extend the cooking time to about 2 hours.
Indirect heat, medium (325° to 350°F)
3- or 4-burner grill – middle burner(s) off
2-burner grill – 1 side off
Clean, oiled grate
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
Clean, oiled grate on medium setting
INGREDIENTS (MAKES 10 TO 12 SERVINGS)
¼ cup Roasted Garlic Paste
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Provençal Herb Rub
1 boneless leg of lamb (butt end), about 4 pounds
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
Oil for coating grill grate.
1. Heat the grill as directed.
2. Mix the garlic paste and the 1 teaspoon herb rub together in a small bowl and rub over the interior of the leg of lamb. Roll the lamb into a compact roast and tie it in place with heavy-duty kitchen twine.
3. Mix the 1 tablespoon herb rub with the olive oil in another small bowl and rub over the outside of the roast. Season with the salt and pepper.
4. Brush the grill grate and coat with oil. Put the lamb on the grill away from the heat, cover the grill, and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the leg registers about 135°F for medium-rare, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. If your grill has a temperature gauge, it should stay between 350° and 375°F. If you are using charcoal, you will probably have to replenish the coals after the first hour.
5. Remove the lamb to a large serving platter, using tongs and a spatula for support. Let rest for 8 to 10 minutes; remove the twine, slice, and serve.