ROASTED LEG OF LAMB WITH ITALIAN ANCHOVY AND ROSEMARY MARINADE AND SALSA VERDE (for six to eight)
one 7 to 8 pound leg of lamb
6 garlic cloves
9 anchovy fillets, drained and patted dry on paper towels
¼ cup olive oil
2-1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1. Mince the garlic and anchovies and mash to a paste with a large heavy knife, then stir together with the oil and the rosemary in a small bowl.
2. Pat the lamb dry with paper towels and place it in a glass or ceramic bowl, fat side up. Make several small, 1 inch deep slits in lamb with a paring knife, then rub marinade over entire surface of lamb, pushing some marinade into slits. Marinate lamb, loosely covered, at room temperature 1 hour. (Lamb can be marinated, covered and chilled, up to five hours. Bring to room temperature, about 1 hour, before proceeding).
3. Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 450*. Place the lamb fat side up on a rack in a roasting pan. Set lamb in oven and immediately turn the heat down to 350*. When 45 minutes are up, baste with fat that has accumulated in the bottom of the pan.
4. 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).
120* very rare
125* rosy rare
130* medium rare
140* medium – the official “safe” temperature where all harmful bacteria are killed (essentially overcooked)
5. 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.
6. 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. Serve with salsa verde (recipe follows).
SALSA VERDE (about ¾ cup)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
9 flat anchovy fillets, drained, patted dry and minced
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped shallot
2-1/2 tablespoons drained, bottled capers (preferably nonpareil) rinsed and finely chopped
6 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste
1. Whisk together lemon juice, anchovy and oil in a small bowl until blended. Stir in shallot, capers, parsley and mint and season with salt and pepper.
adapted from Gourmet Magazine, April, 2005