One of my weaknesses is a good deal so when I was passing the butchers counter at the local supermarket and saw a HUGE leg of lamb at what was frankly a giveaway price I bought it without a thought of what I was going to do with said joint of meat.
The first notion that came to mind was to roast the leg in the classical manner (garlic, rosemary etc) and invite the in laws for a nice spring lunch but they had already made plans. So the question remained what was I to do? Using the magic that is Twitter I decided to pick the brains of of a few foodie talents… all of whom possess considerably greater culinary imagination, skill and knowledge than myself. My thanks to all those who replied with suggestions … they were so great that I was inspired to cook and post!
A selection of them (and links to the blogs … all of which are worth checking out) are below.
@stacie_stewart (Masterchef semi-finalist, food blogger and beehive baking queen)
Bone it and divide into 4x 750g portions. Then make lamb curry, hotpot, shepherds pie and steamed lamb suet pudding … all the recipes for the lamb are on [my blog]
@ruhlman (food writer, broadcaster and blogger)
separates it into its separate muscles and cook individually, or make lots of shepherds pie and lamb sandwiches tomorrow! … if you do a good job, you can cook those lamb muscles almost like loin.
As a result of the great idea I decided to follow Michael Ruhlmans suggestion and debone the leg. I liked the idea of separating each muscle by butchering along the seams. The should ensure that each portion of lamb would be free of connective tissue running thorugh it (gristle to you an me) and cook evenly as it would be composed essentially of the same meat.
I wanted to make a good job of this so to get me started I found a great video guide by The Healthy Butcher which illustrated the basic steps of removing the bone to leave a butterflied leg.
Joint opened up along the fatty seam and the bone now exposed as per the video.
I continued to cut carefully close around the bone until it could be removed. Use the bone as your guide and take you time and you won’t go far wrong …or lose much meat.
Now, to separate the meat by cutting between the muscles. If you get this right there is not actually much cutting to do as the muscles will almost peel apart like the segments of an orange. Just use the knife to ease them apart and trim the edges. The meat around the shank was left whole as the there is a lot of fine connective tissue (this cooks down when braised give you that yummy rich stickiness) .
I ended up with (from left to right) six fillet like pieces from the upper leg, two large boneless cuts for braising and the bone with some some trimmings. Don’t throw that bone away!… added to a braise it will add fantastic richness, I bagged it up with the trimmings and put it in the freezer.
I took one of the fillets and placed it in a marinade of crushed garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and Herbes de Provence for about half an hour. I went heavy on the garlic (one of the giant cloves from the elephant garlic I grew last year).
The marinated lamb was seared on a hot grill on for a few minutes on each side and then finished in the oven.
Rested for about 10 minutes before carving, the meat was superbly tender and juicy, presumably a result of not being cut across the grain when the leg was butchered. The result of my labours was probably the best piece of meat I have cooked this year … served on ratatouille with some mixed leaves.