Every time I go to my mother's in Romagna the roast leg of lamb are sacred. Actually, I can't tell if we eat a lot of lamb in Romagna or if my house has always eaten a lot of lamb... anyway, it is one of my three favourite meats! Cooking leg of lamb at Easter is a tradition I brought from my family of origin to the family I created with Francesco. This was also our first Easter as cohabitants in our beloved Monte Isola... and I must say that quarantine is certainly an unusual but wonderful experience: we have practically been on our honeymoon for two months! Of course it's not easy to be deprived of freedom, but I'm very happy in our house! My father always told me that I should choose a house that would be a paradise for me and never a prison... and never was his advice more valuable! Living in paradise makes quarantine very pleasant, so I am not complaining at all! I don't know how families of 2/3 people do it in two-room flats without a garden and terrace, worse if with windows facing grey buildings and decadent streets! We ate this exquisite roast leg of lamb lacquered with chestnut honey that Vittorio gave me in our beautiful terrace on the lake in the middle of the Pre-Alps... so shut up and fly!

Honey lacquered leg of lamb: my recipe

Lamb is defined as a sheep (female) or ram/ ram (male) less than 12 months old. lamb is a domestic herbivorous animal that is reared by humans for its delicious meat if slaughtered when young, or for the production of wool or milk if left to mature. lamb meat is lean (the leg has only 103 kcal per 100g) and its protein has a high biological value.

Difficulty: Easy

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Preparation: 10 minutes

+ marinade resting time

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Cost: Medium

Calories: it gets worse

Although it is more delicate than mutton, its strong flavour can be stemmed by a long marinade. Some recommend leaving it overnight in water and lemon or boiling it a few moments before cooking... frankly, I disagree! The characteristic flavour of roast leg of lamb is its goodness and pleasure, and if you have good quality and therefore young meat, there is no need to intervene before marinating! If the meat smells and weighs too much... you are probably about to eat a leg of lamb or so!

Leg of lamb, ingredients for 2 gluttons:

  • 1 leg of young lamb, weighing between 1 kg and 1.3 kg
  • 1 litre of red wine
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of chestnut honey
  • black pepper from 
  • laurel
  • rosemary
  • 4 fairly large potatoes with a nice oval shape
  • rock salt

Equipment needed:

  • 1 baking tray
  • baking paper
  • 1 wooden chopping board at least as long as the leg
  • 1 pestle
  • 1 large aluminium bowl
  • 1 small aluminium bowl
  • 1 meat filleting knife
  • 1 tablespoon
  • 1 silicone brush

Roast leg of lamb, preparation:

Step 1: marinating

  1. Wash the leg under running water and place it in a pan, possibly capable of containing the whole leg, with 1 litre of red wine, 4 or 5 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon of honey or caster sugar and 1 tablespoon of coarse salt. I used the same honey, which I also used at the end of the cooking time for the lacquering.
  2. Cover with plenty of cling film and place it in the lowest shelf of the fridge for between 24 and 48 hours (in my case it was from 16:30 on Friday to 12:30 on Sunday, so 44 hours). This recipe is delicious and very simple, it just asks you not to be in a hurry... so don't delay this resting phase!

Step 2: Preparation for cooking

  1. Peel the potatoes with a potato peeler, wash them in cold water and place them on the cutting board. Cut them lengthwise first in half, then in half, then in half again: basically into 8 segments of roughly the same size. Place the potatoes in an aluminium bowl as you cut them and season with extra virgin olive oil, coarse salt, chopped rosemary and black pepper, preferably crushed with a pestle and not ground.
  2. Cut a piece of greaseproof paper large enough to completely cover the baking tray, brush on a little oil and gently lay the leg and seasoned potatoes on it.

Step 3: cooking

  1. Stick a probe in the leg to measure the core temperature, which for lamb must be at least 65°C. This part is crucial for masterful cooking... so if you don't have a probe, invest a few euros to buy one! It will come in very handy in the kitchen! I chose an oven with a built-in probe that turns off when it reaches the desired core temperature: I love it! Remember that cooking time is a relative measurement: it depends on the oven and the piece of meat. With the probe you can't go wrong!
  2. Bake in a preheated static oven at 200°C and let the core temperature reach 65°C (in my oven it took just under 40 minutes). In the meantime, prepare the lacquering sauce in a small aluminium bowl with 2 tablespoons of honey, 4 tablespoons of evo oil, black pepper and coarse salt crushed together and chopped bay leaf.
  3. When the temperature has reached 65°C open the oven, remove the plate and lacquer the leg of sauce with the silicone brush. Meanwhile start the grill, mine reaches 300°C. While the temperature is being reached, take the opportunity to turn the fries with the help of kitchen tongs.
  4. Put it in the oven and wait until the lamb reaches 70 °C at the heart: in my oven it took about 5 minutes.

Step 4: Presentation

  1. I love presenting meat in wooden cutting boards so I have a large one for 2 people and 2 small ones for single portions. Lay the leg on the cutting board.
  2. Gently and with kitchen tongs, lay potato by potato on the cutting board. This phase will take you a couple of minutes, but it is absolutely calculated: during this time you will allow the juices of the meat to redistribute thanks to the convergence of the heat at the heart. If you leave the probe stuck in the leg when it is already out of the oven, you will find that the temperature rises a couple of degrees more. My leg reached 72°C at the heart and I assure you it was pure perfection! Succulent, tender as butter... delicious!
baked leg of lamb recipe honey lacquered leg of lamb

Honey lacquered leg of lamb: 2 different wines that go very well with it! (And which in general always go well with all roast legs of lamb)!

As I am wont to do, I like to range with both conventional and unusual food and wine pairings. First, I want to identify with you the textures, aromas and flavours of the leg of lamb. The lamb meat is deliciously succulent, tender, flavourful and not particularly savoury. The long marinade takes away some of the strong flavour that lamb sometimes has and enriches it with new aromas. The 'canonical' pairing calls for the same wine as the marinade, but a ploy can be to use a delicate, unstructured white or red wine. This way we have a greater possibility of pairing.

  1. Still red wine. I chose a South Tyrolean Pinot Noir 2018 from Salegg Castle because it is a wine with a medium structure, a delicious spicy bouquet, an interesting balance between softness and freshness and good persistence on the palate.
  2. Still white wine. You can combine it with a Soave Classico as Calvary 2017 by Pieropan. I really like this pairing because I like the contrast between the lacquer which has sweet and at the same time bitter notes taken on by the honey which caramelises the wine's savouriness. In addition, its scent in which elderflower flowers dominate really goes well with the flavour of the lamb!

What did you eat at Easter? What wines did you pair with it? How do you cook lamb? Tell me in a comment!

Cheers

Chiara

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