Tender Wine Infused Leg of Lamb Recipe
Easy Elegant Tender Wine Infused Lamb Recipe
This is by far my favorite way to cook lamb for entertaining, holidays, or special occasions. Once you've tasted it, I think it will become one of your favorite recipes as well.
Slow cooking takes time for this one but the work involved is minimal and it is very easy.
I made this recently and when bad weather forced a cancellation of party plans, I froze the results of my efforts in smaller family size portions, which were just as delicious when defrosted and reheated.
For something different and impressive, give this Gluten Free recipe a try to sit back and enjoy the meal, your company -- and the compliments!
How to Select Leg of Lamb
Fresh leg of lamb should have firm flesh that is pink or pale red in color. Fat should be white and firm with marbling throughout.
American lamb tends to be larger and milder in flavor than lamb from New Zealand or Australia, which is also usually smaller. Prime and choice labeled cuts are better.
Leg of lamb with the bone in is sold in whole and half-leg sizes. The shank or narrow end is a tougher cut of meat, although with this recipe, that won't really matter as the result is extremely tender regardless of cut.
Bone-in leg of lamb remains moister and more tender than de-boned leg of lamb and is not as difficult to carve as you might think. (We've included instructions for that below.)
Select your meat carefully. Leg of lamb can be costly, but you can save a lot if you buy it on sale or in the spring when fresh lamb is more plentiful.
Fresh lamb will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days but can be frozen for 6 to 9 months. If you are freezing the meat for the long term, you might want to rewrap it in airtight plastic wrap and then a layer of heavy aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn. Cooked lamb will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or can be frozen for up to 3 months. As with any frozen foods, be sure to label the package with the date and contents so you can be sure to use it within the appropriate time frame.
If you buy frozen leg of lamb, be sure to thoroughly defrost the meat in your refrigerator prior to roasting.
You'll Need a Large Covered Roaster for this Lamb Recipe
Traditional Speckled Graniteware Roasters
This is the type of roaster we use. It is inexpensive, functional, and durable. (We actually use one that belonged to my wife's grandmother!)
Granite Enameled Roasters are also available in other sizes as well. Do not use aluminum or teflon roasters. If you have a roaster you use for a good sized turkey it will probably work for this recipe too.
Preparing the Leg of Lamb
Before using the leg of lamb in the following (or any other) recipe, you must prepare the lamb for roasting. Trim any silvery skin and visible fat slabs from the surface of the meat. Rinse in cold water and pat dry. If leg of lamb is too large for roaster, you (or your butcher) can cut it at the joint into two shorter pieces.
Need to Scale Recipe Down?
Use 4 good size lamb shanks instead of a whole leg and cut amount of other ingredients, except garlic and tomatoes, in half. Lower oven temperature to 375 F. Monitor cooking time carefully as this will still cook in less time, even with lower temperature.
- 6 medium or 4 large Onions - sliced
- 1 lb. peeled baby Carrots
- 1 head of Garlic separated into cloves - if small heads use 2
- 6 Bay leaves
- 1 bunch fresh Thyme
- 4 teaspoons dried Thyme
- 1 Lamb Leg with bone in - 6 to 7 lbs
- Freshly ground Black Pepper
- 2 bottles Dry White Wine
- 4 to 5 lbs. potatoes - peeled and cut into quarters or wedges
- 8 Tomatoes -peeled and cored or 1 can whole tomatoes in puree with tomatoes quartered
- Layer onions, carrots, garlic, bay leaves and thyme on the bottom of a non-reactive roaster (with cover) large enough to hold lamb. Place lamb on top of onion and carrot mixture and roast, uncovered, at 425 F for 30 minutes.
- Remove roaster from oven and season lamb with salt and pepper to taste. Return to oven and roast 30 minutes more. Remove roaster from oven, leaving oven on. Place roaster on top of stove, slowly pour wine over lamb, cover, and bring liquid to boil.
- Return roaster, covered, to oven and roast 4-5 additional hours until lamb is fork tender, but not yet falling off the bone. (Timing will vary according to size and age of lamb and type of roasting pan used.)
- Check on lamb from time to time, reducing oven heat if lamb begins to burn or liquid begins to evaporate too much.
- When lamb is fork tender, bury potatoes and tomatoes in liquid. Cover and roast until potatoes are cooked through, about 1 hour more. Lamb should now be very tender, still juicy and falling off bone.
You can peel and cut potatoes ahead of time if you leave them submerged in water in a large bowl in the refrigerator to keep them from turning black
A Word about Cooking with Wine
The wine you use in this or most any other recipe will matter a great deal in the results. You do not need to use the best but fabulous wines can be found for reasonable prices. A good rule of thumb is to only cook with wines you would drink.
Carving a Leg of Lamb
This leg of lamb is so tender it literally falls off the bone. It can be sliced the traditional way or you can cut it up and serve it stew-style if you prefer.
Below are some helpful videos that will show you how to slice leg of lamb. There are some slight variations in approach, but all cut against the grain. My favorite is the first one, but you might want to take a look at the others as well. You can learn something from each of them.
Remember: It is important to remove lamb from the roaster and let it stand for 20 to 30 minutes prior to carving.
A Good Carving Knife is Essential
Made in Germany from high-carbon steel with triple riveted polypropylene handles, this good looking set comes with a lifetime warranty. Set includes an 8-inch carving knife and a 6-inch fork. Click link for more details.
You'll Also Need a Cutting Board
Video Instructions for Carving a Bone-in Leg of Lamb
Health Benefits of Eating Lamb
Although classified as a red meat, lamb is lean and nutrient rich. A 3-ounce serving of lamb has about 175 calories and provides nearly five times the essential omega-3 fatty acids and ALA (alpha linoleic acid) of a 3-ounce serving of beef. Lamb also has virtually no carbohydrates.
ALA is a precursor of Omega-3 fats in the diet. These fats are good for you because Omega-3 fats are associated with decreased risk of inflammation and heart disease.
Lamb is also a good source of iron, zinc, selenium, phosphorous and vitamins B12, niacin, B1, B2, B6, folate, biotin, pantothenic acid,and choline, which can help lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Grass-fed lamb has the highest amounts of Omega-3s and ALA as conventionally fed lamb (25 to 50% more), so you might want to look for that. To date, no artificial or synthetic growth hormones are used in lamb production in the U.S.
Health beneficial long chain omega-3 fatty acid levels in Australian lamb, Ponnampalam E.N., Butler K.L., Jacob R.H., Pethick D.W., Ball A.J., Hocking Edwards J.E., Geesink G., Hopkins D.L. (2014) Meat Science, 96 (2) , pp. 1104-1110.
Livestock and Meat Trade Data Lamb and mutton: Annual and cumulative year-to-date U.S. trade. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. Available online at: http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/MeatTrade/LambMuttonYearly.htm. 2011.
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