Jim and my son-in-law, Seth, share a birthday, and usually on a weekend near the date, we have a celebratory dinner. After James and I found a boneless leg of lamb at Costco, the dinner menu started to take shape.
We ended up with ginger-butternut soup, leg of lamb with mustard coating, potatoes Anna, and a mixed-greens salad tossed with fresh oranges and walnuts, dressed with a citrus-walnut vinaigrette. For dessert, Guinness cake and vanilla ice cream.
I'd never roasted a leg of lamb, so I consulted a couple of cookbooks. Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking included a recipe for the herbed mustard coating. The roast came out moist and delicious. You'll want to coat the lamb a few hours ahead of time so that it picks up more flavor.
Gigot a la Moutarde
1/2 cup Dijon-style prepared mustard
2 T. soy sauce
1 clove finely minced garlic
1 tsp. ground dried rosemary
1/4 tsp. powdered ginger
2 T. olive oil
Whisk all the ingredients together until it becomes mayonnaise-esque. Spread the mixture over the lamb and refrigerate until you're ready to roast it. Our roast was in a mesh bag (to keep it together sans bones), but we just spread the coating right over the string.
Roast the lamb in a 325-degree oven, allowing the internal temperature to rise to about 160 degrees for medium doneness. That should take 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours, but check the temp with an instant-read thermometer at 2 1/2 hours. You'll want a bit of pinkness remaining in the center for the best taste and tenderness. If you like your lamb rare, figure on a couple of hours or so, and roast until the center temperature is 140 degrees.
Be sure to deglaze the pan with a little beef broth, hot water, or wine; defat and strain it, and spoon over sliced lamb. Save and refrigerate any juices that you don't actually eat; they'll come in handy with leftover lamb.
We had lots of leftovers, so the next day we made a version of gyros. The real thing is made from uncooked ground lamb combined with herbs and spices and baked meatloaf-style or, more authentically, roasted on a spit. We simply used thinly sliced lamb (Jim sliced it with an electric knife to get the thinnest possible slices), re-heated it gently, and stuffed slices into pita halves, topping the lamb with tzatziki sauce, feta cheese, chopped onion, and chopped tomato.
8 ounces plain yogurt (we like Stoneyfield Farm whole-milk yogurt)
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
Pinch kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 1/2 tsp. olive oil
1 teaspoons red wine vinegar
3 or 4 mint leaves, finely minced
Simply mix all the ingredients together and spoon generously over lamb-stuffed pita. Top with crumbled feta, chopped onion, and chopped tomato.
We still had leftover lamb, so I made shepherd's pie. And that finished it off! I simply ground up the cooked lamb in the food processor and didn't really measure the amount, but it was probably around 3 cups or so. (You can, of course, make shepherd's pie using beef.) I like to mash my potatoes with plenty of butter. In a pinch, I've been known to use Potato Buds, but don't tell anybody!
1 large clove garlic
1 tsp. dried rosemary, crumbled
4 T. butter
2 T. flour
3/4 cup lamb juices and/or beef broth
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 potatoes, cooked and mashed
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place roughly chopped cooked lamb, garlic, onion, and rosemary in food processor and chop till fairly fine. Melt the butter in a skillet; add flour and cook until smooth and blended. Add juices and/or broth; stir and cook until thickened, at least five minutes. Add the lamb mixture and salt and pepper to taste. Blend well and place in a 1 1/2 quart casserole. Spread the mashed potatoes on top, making sure they're spread to the rim of the casserole. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the meat is bubbling hot and the potatoes are somewhat browned.