Roast Leg of Lamb

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French and American cooks approach roasting differently. The French prefer roasts crusty on the outside, rare on the inside and the texture fleshy. So they roast at a high temperature for a short time. Americans (and English), on the whole, are squeamish about blood oozing from meat. They like their roasts well done and with a firmer texture. So they maintain a constant, low temperature. I find the following compromise the best of both worlds: crusty on the outside and tender yet juicy in the center.

Unless you are handy with a boning knife and have a merit badge in knot tying, have the butcher bone and tie the roast.

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1 whole leg or shoulder boneless leg of lamb     several cloves garlic      kosher or sea salt

fresh ground black pepper      cup dry red wine     cup beef broth     1T sugar

1T balsamic vinegar       a handful of fresh mint leaves

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Preheat the oven to 450. Make several deep incisions with a small knife all over the meat. Insert a thin slice of garlic into each. Rub the lamb well with salt and pepper, place in a roasting pan. Put the pan in the oven and turn off the heat. Let sit until the oven is almost cool (approx. 45 min.). Turn the heat to 325 and continue cooking until medium-well-done (approx. 17 min per lb.). Remove pan from oven and place roast on a warm serving platter. Cover loosely with foil. (The juices that run out should be pink: If too bloody for your taste, return the roast to the oven for another 20 min. or so; if too clear, next time lessen the cooking time.)

Drain all fat from the roasting pan. Put it on the stovetop over high heat. Sprinkle in sugar. Let it brown. De-glaze pan with red wine, stirring constantly to dissolve and incorporate all small bits. Add broth and balsamic vinegar, return to simmer. Bruise the mint leaves and add to pan. Remove pan from heat and strain sauce into a gravy bowl.

Cover a serving platter with wheat pilaf or rice. Remove butcher’s twine from lamb and place the roast on top. Surround it with broiled tomatoes. Serve with buttered peas and carrots or fresh asparagus. Pass mint sauce on the side. (Serves 6-8)

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