GREEK EASTER LAMB WITH OREGANO POTATOES (for six)
a 7 to 8 pound leg of lamb
For the marinade:
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ bunch each oregano, thyme and rosemary, chopped
½ cup olive oil
½ cup lemon juice
¾ cup red wine
salt and pepper to taste
For the dry lamb rub:
4 garlic cloves
¼ bunch each of oregano, thyme and rosemary
¼ cup olive oil
For the potatoes:
2-¼ pounds roasting potatoes
4 teaspoons lemon juice
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup olive oil
½ bunch oregano
1. Combine the marinade ingredients and season to taste. Place the lamb in a large, deep container and pour in the marinade. Turn the lamb in the marinade so that it is coated all over. Cover and refrigerate overnight. When you take the lamb out, set the marinade aside.
2. Using a mortar and pestle, crush the ingredients for the dry rub together until they form a paste. Season to taste. (Alternatively, place ingredients in a food processor and finely chop. With motor running, slowly add ¼ cup olive oil and blend until mixture becomes a loose paste.)
3. Make 10 to 15 small incisions all over the surface of the marinated lamb using a small, sharp paring knife. Stuff each of these little holes with the dry rub and rub whatever is left over the surface of the lamb. Season the lamb well with salt and pepper and rub it with the olive oil.
4. Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 450*. Cut the potatoes into wedges lengthways. Place them in a large roasting pan and toss with the lemon juice, zest, olive oil and oregano. Season well with salt and pepper. Place the lamb fat side up on a rack over the potatoes and put in the oven. Immediately turn the heat down to 350*. When 45 minutes are up, baste with fat that has accumulated in the bottom of the pan.
5. After 1 hour, start testing for doneness. Any leg of lamb from 5 to 8 pounds will take between 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours to reach an internal meat thermometer reading of 125* (insert thermometer into the thickest part of the leg – without touching the bone). If necessary, add some of the marinade during roasting to stop everything from drying out.
120* very rare
125* rosy rare
130* medium rare
140* medium – the official “safe” temperature where all harmful bacteria are killed
6. As soon as the lamb is done, remove it from the oven and place on a carving board or platter. Discard any trussing strings. Let it stand for between 15 and 25 minutes before carving so that its juices can retreat back into the meat. The internal temperature of the lamb will rise somewhat during this process. While the lamb is resting, leave the potatoes in the roasting pan in the oven until they are nicely browned and cooked through.
7. If the lamb must wait longer still, tent aluminum foil over it to keep it warm. You can use a warming oven, but make sure the temperature does not exceed 120* or the lamb will continue to cook. You can keep it warm for an hour or more. Turn the oven off and leave the potatoes in it to keep warm until you are ready to serve.
adapted from Theodore Kyriakou and Charles Campion, The Real Greek at Home