Roast Lamb

We get a whole lamb, twice a year, from a local farmer who raises sheep in order to train sheep dogs. The butcher prepares it for us, and part of what he does is to “bone and butterfly” the two legs and the two shoulders. (If you don’t know much about lamb, you might foolishly think they have four legs.) This, we find, is the highest and best use of the legs and shoulders. People who say they don’t like the taste of lamb say they like lamb when they have this.


  • 1 leg of lamb, boned and butterflied
  • 2-3 heads of garlic (less if big heads, more if smaller heads)
  • 6 tablespoons dried rosemary
  • 6 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 2 cups of decent quality olive oil (plus 1/2 cup more)
  • 1 cup of red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 cup of soy sauce (or wheat-free soy sauce for gluten-free)
  • 1/2 cup sherry or good old red wine (opened a while ago) or mirin


  1. Trim off from the lamb any truly egregious chunks of fat or gristle. Cut the lamb into large chunks that leaves a couple that are very thick (for people who like their meat rare) and a couple that are thinner. I usually cut the lamb into about 3 pieces total. The meat will look very messy.
  2. Peel the garlic and either chop it fine with a knife, or grind it up in the food processor.
  3. Mix the garlic well in a bowl with the rosemary and thyme.
  4. Rub the herb/garlic mix all over the meat.
  5. If you have a gallon-size zip-lock bag, put the meat into that. Otherwise lay the meat snuggly possible in a bowl or pot that isn’t much bigger than the meat.
  6. Whisk together all the liquid ingredients (including 2 cups of the olive oil) and pour them all over the meat so that the meat is truly soaking.
  7. Soak for 4-48 hours (preferably the higher number) in the fridge.
  8. About 90 minute before cooking, take out the meat and let it come to room temperature, still soaking in the marinade.
  9. Preheat the grill to very hot.
  10. Throw down the meat on the grill. Let it sear and then turn down the heat some. Pour some of the remaining olive oil on it to keep it moist. Turn occasionally. Test with a meat thermometer or by cutting into it to see when it is done to your taste. (This takes about 35-45 minutes usually.)
  11. Put it on a board, pour a little more olive oil over it, and wait 10-15 minutes.
  12. Serve either by slicing very thin or by cutting into chunks.

Note: Leftover lamb is totally heavenly with good hummus and really fresh cherry tomatoes. The mate loves leftover lamb on bread with ratatouille and cheese.

Also note: You can use some of the leftover marinade to cook heavenly roast potatoes and/or onions and/or carrots in the oven, but you must be sure to cook the marinaded vegs all the way to 180 degrees for at least 20 minutes to kill any germs that may have formed in the marinade. (Generally this is not a problem since you would cook those for at least an hour at 350 degrees.)

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