Few things can compare to the juicy textured taste of well-cooked lamb. For centuries, people have perfected the fine art of lamb roasting and now it’s easier to get it right than it ever was. That is, of course, if you have the right tools for the job.
It is possible to cook lamb in a regular oven, but using a rotisserie provides superior roast because the cut gets even heat all around. Ideally, your roast will be golden brown on the outside and extra tender on the inside. Want to know how to do it? You are in the right place.
Things are not as easy as throwing the meat onto the rotisserie spit and ramping up the heat. You need to choose the right leg of lamb and marinate it. Here are some general tips.
Legs of a lamb come bone-in or boneless and they are both great for rotisserie ovens. If you want to go boneless choose the leg that has been rolled and tied. Just so you know, butterflied legs are better for grilling and regular ovens because of their uniform thickness.
The lamb’s leg should sit in the marinade overnight (in the fridge, of course). Rolled and tied legs don’t need that much time to soak up the flavors, but a few extra hours won’t hurt.
Give the leg a good rub of large-grain sea salt. You can make small incisions here and there for the salt and other spices to sink in. As for the spices, you can let your imagination run wild. Cilantro, rosemary, and even lemon work great.
The trick is to grab some fresh basil and stick the leaves into the small incisions you’ve made. Take several cloves of garlic, cut them in half, and give the leg a good rub. Adding vinegar or wine helps hold all the flavors together.
Apple cider vinegar is a great match for the lamb and the same goes for full-bodied merlots and pinot noirs. Before cooking, it’s important to keep the leg at room temperature for up to an hour.
Start with the back burner at 450°F — this applies for rotisseries and regular ovens. Put the leg on the rotisserie spit and make sure it’s balanced and sits well. If you are not using a rotisserie, put the leg on small rectangular sticks so it sits about half an inch above the tray. In a rotisserie oven, fill the drip tray with liquid but don’t fill it all the way up.
Grab a mortar and pestle, add some more spices and herbs, then grind it all up. Since you’ll be brushing these on, add two or three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to hold it all together. Feel free to give the leg a generous brush before you put it in the oven. You can repeat the process every hour or so, but be careful not to keep the oven open for long.
For a rotisserie or regular oven, timing and temperature can make or break your roast. As said, you start at 450°F and keep cooking at that temperature for no more than 15 minutes. You’ll know it’s time to lower the heat when the leg gets that gold color and becomes crusty.
Then, pull the temperature down to 350°F and keep cooking for two more hours. The timing may depend on the size of the leg. In general, about 20 minutes per one pound of meat should be adequate. Anyway, you don’t want to rush things because slow cooking brings out all the delicious flavors you want.
If you are cooking the leg in a regular oven, rotate/flip the meat to ensure an even roast. It’s okay to do it every 45 minutes or so. Either way, you can use a meat thermometer to gauge if the leg is ready. For example, the read of 145°F usually signals medium-rare.
After cooking, the leg needs to rest for a while — about 20 minutes should do the trick. This allows the juices to settle back into the meat and pull the flavors together.
When you start carving, begin from the thickest part and gently cut along the shank. Of course, if you are using a rotisserie, remove the leg from the skewer first. As for the slices, half-inch slices are great because they are easy to serve and retain all the nice juices.
At this point, you should have perfectly cooked lamb. It goes really well with grilled or steamed seasonal vegetables and potatoes. And remember, many of the tips apply for both a rotisserie and a regular oven. Finally, the rotation or the rotisserie does help you get a better and more evenly cooked roast.