2013 Update: In today’s Seasonal Pantry I take a look at local lamb from a single source, Williams Ranches in Sebastopol. You can read that column here. As promised in the column, here is my recipe for Leg of Lamb with Sausage Stuffing and Mustard Glaze, along with links to several other delicious dishes, perfect for the holiday. Today’s column features a master recipe for cooking butterflied leg of lamb in the oven.

2012 Update: It is an annual tradition for me, writing about spring lamb, especially as Easter approaches. That’s the theme of today’s Seasonal Pantry, which you can read here. Today’s recipes are Rack of Lamb with Roasted Asparagus, Watercress & Sorrel Gremolata and Lamb Chops & Flageolets with Sorrel Gremolata.

This blog post originally appear in the spring of 2011 and it includes the first recipe I ever published, as I promised in today’s column.


As I promise in this week’s Seasonal Pantry, which you can read here, I’ve posted links to recipes for leg of lamb from the Seasonal Pantry archives. As it turns out, the recipes I referred to specifically were published before the column was archived on line. Actually, I believe both were published before there was a Press Democrat Web site. I’ve been writing the column since 1997. I’ve included those complete recipes in this entry.

Burrata is delicious with most spring vegetables

Today’s Pantry focuses on side dishes–Burrata with Spring Garnishes, Warm Avocado with Creme Fraiche & Caviar and Poached Leeks with Deviled Eggs–and they are all excellent with any of these legs of lamb.

Burrata, a fresh mozzarella-style cheese with thick cream and shards of mozzarella inside, comes wrapped and tied

Grilled Leg of Lamb with New Olive Oil

Leg of Lamb with Spring Garlic, Thyme & New Potatoes

Braised Leg of Lamb with Ginger-Garlic Paste

Oven-Roasted Leg of Lamb with Sausage Stuffing and Mustard Glaze

Serves 6 to 8

This recipe has special meaning for me, as it was the first recipe I ever published. When it appeared in the Sebastopol Times & News a few days before Easter in March, 1986, it was like magic. Speers Market sold out of leg of lamb, I received many phone calls from strangers and I’ve never been without a deadline since then. Is it any wonder that this dish is a beloved spring ritual?

  • Mustard Glaze (recipe follows)
  • 1 leg of Sonoma County lamb, boned, 6 to 8 pounds
  • olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound Italian sausage, removed from casings
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon fresh summer savory
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Make the mustard glaze and set it aside.
  3. Remove the papery outer covering of the lamb (the fell) and set the meat aside. Pour the olive oil in a heavy skillet, add the onions and saute until soft. Add the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes more. Add the sausage, crumble it with a fork and cook until about half done.  Stir in the mustard and the herbs.  Toss with the bread crumbs and remove from the heat.
  4. Place the boned leg of lamb, outside down, on a work surface. Spread the stuffing over the inside of the lamb, roll it and tie it tightly with kitchen twine. Set on the rack of a roasting pan. Use a pastry brush to coat the lamb with the glaze.
  5. Set the lamb in its roasting pan on the middle rack of the oven and cook for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees and cook for 45 minutes more. Use an instant-read meat thermometer to test the meat, pressing the thermometer into the center part of the lamb. For rare meat, remove from the oven when it reaches 135 degrees; for medium rare, remove when it reaches 140 degrees. Cover lossely with a sheet of aluminum foil and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. Transfer the meat to a work surface and set the roasting pan over a stove-top burner on medium heat. Add 3/4 cup water and scrape the pan to loosen any drippings. Add leftover mustard glaze, stir well and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Add the tablespoon of chilled butter, a teaspoon at a time, whisking after each addition until the butter is just melted. Pour into a sauce bowl.  Cut the lamb into 1/4-inch slices, arrange on a platter and top with sauce. Pass remaining sauce on the side.

Mustard Glaze

  • 3/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh summer savory
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  1. Whisk all ingredient together in a small bowl and set aside until ready to use.

Leg of Lamb with Garlic Rub & Tapenade

Serves 6 to 8

This festive recipe celebrates the connection of Sonoma County and Provence, France.  Both regions produce fine lamb, excellent olive oil, and a bounty of great vegetables, including garlic.  If you don’t want to bother with stuffing the lamb, you can omit that step; the garlic rub adds a tremendous amount of flavor.

  • Olive tapenade, store-bought or homemade (recipe follows)
  • Garlic rub (recipe follows)
  • 1 leg of Sonoma County lamb, boned
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper in a mill
  • 10 rosemary sprigs, 6 to 8 inches long
  • 2 pounds new potatoes, scrubbed
  1. First, make the tapenade and set it aside.
  2. Make the garlic rub, cover it, and set it aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  4. Place the leg of lamb on a work surface, fat side up.  Remove the fell (the thin outer covering) and as much fat as possible.  Rub the lamb all over with the garlic mixture.  Season with salt and pepper, turn the leg over, and spread the tapenade over the inner surface of the lamb.  Roll up the leg lengthwise around the tapenade, pressing the roll tightly together as you do so, and tie up the roll with twine. Tuck 6 of the rosemary sprigs into the twine around the outside of the lamb.
  5. Set the lamb on a rack in a roasting pan and set in the oven. Immediately reduce the heat to 350˚F, and roast for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours (15 to 20 minutes per pound for rare lamb), or to an internal temperature of 125˚F.
  6. Remove the lamb from the oven, cover lightly with aluminum foil, and let rest 15 to 30 minutes.   Set the lamb on a work surface, remove the twine and the rosemary, cut into 1/4-inch slices, and arrange on a serving platter.  Some of the tapenade will probably fall out as you slice the lamb; place it in the center of the platter, season with lamb with a few turns of black pepper, garnish with the remaining 4 rosemary sprigs, and serve immediately.

Olive Tapenade

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

  • 2 1/2 cups olives (a mix of Kalamata, niçoise and cracked green, or other olives of choice)
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 tablespoon Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 2 anchovy fillets, packed in oil, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Black pepper in mill
  1. Remove the olive pits and discard them. Using a very sharp knife, mince the olives (do not use a food processor), place them in a small mixing bowl, and toss with the garlic, parsley, and capers. Using a small mortar and pestle, pound the anchovies until they form a paste.  Add the paste to the olives, pour in the olive oil, and toss together lightly.
  2. Let sit 30 minutes before using.

Garlic Rub for Lamb

For 1 leg

  • 1 garlic bulb, cloves separated and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon crushed black peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary needles
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Put the garlic cloves into a large suribachi, sprinkle generously with some of the kosher salt, and crush the garlic until it is nearly liquefied.  Add the remaining salt, pepper, and rosemary and mix thoroughly.  Stir in the olive oil until the mixture forms a thick paste. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.
  2. To use, rub all over a butterflied leg of lamb, set the lamb in large shallow container and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and as long as overnight. Bring the lamb to room temperature before grilling or roasting.

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