Here’s a delicious roast leg of lamb with herb breadcrumb crust recipe for all you lamb lovers! Tender, juicy and delicious lamb is something that many people either love or hate because of it’s strong and distinctive flavor. My appreciation and fondness for lamb has increased over the years especially after learning different cooking techniques in culinary school. In particular I remember having to laboriously clean racks of lamb by “frenching” the bones of the chops.
I visited my local Sprouts Natural and Organic grocery store and picked up a nice boneless leg of lamb from New Zealand. The butcher was nice enough to clean and butterfly the lamb, saving tons of time prepping. For this dish I wanted to incorporate fresh strong herbs and roasted garlic into the recipe and add some extra texture.
The butterflied boneless roast leg of lamb was stuffed with herbs and sweet roasted garlic to infuse more flavor. Each side of the roast was then seared until golden brown then placed in the oven to roast further. Before the lamb reached the desired serving temperature, the surface was coated with Dijon mustard, and then the herb breadcrumb crust.
I like to serve lamb medium-rare to medium, so I removed the roast when the internal temperature reached about 130/135°F, and allowed it to rest for 15 minutes. The exterior crust was golden brown and had a nice crunch, contrasting the soft texture of the meat. The herb mixture of fresh rosemary, thyme, parsley, basil and mint nicely complimented the bold flavor of the lamb.
Homemade breadcrumbs are great to use for this recipe, especially since you can control the size of the crumbs as a coarser crumb works best and gives more texture to the crust. I used garlic sourdough croutons which I made from a delicious rosemary sourdough loaf!
The roast leg of lamb with herb breadcrumb crust was served with my farmers market roasted spring root vegetables, and enjoyed with a nice bottle of Pinot Noir from Domaine Alfred Chamisal Vineyards in Edna Valley.
TIP: When roasting larger pieces of meat and trying to get to the perfect serving temperatures, don’t forget about carryover cooking! As you rest your meat to keep the juices locked in, the meat gradually continues to cook and could make the difference if your meat is pink and juicy, or gray and dry. Typically temperatures recommended are based on the temperature of the center of the meat, this ensures the roast is done and food safe temperatures are reached. As the meat is removed from the heating element, food will continue to cook due to heat transfer (conduction) from the hotter outside surface of the food to the inside; this is carryover cooking in action. This will continue until the temperatures on the surface are equal to the interior of the meat, which could be a 5 to 10 degree increase in the center of your roast! This means your meat could go from medium to medium rare and so on, if cooked a tad too long. Also keep in mind, the higher the roasting temperature and size of the roast, the more potential for a longer duration of carryover cooking.
- 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely diced
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- * Reserve 1.5 tablespoons for lamb filling
- 1 boneless half leg of lamb (3 to 4 pounds), butterflied, trimmed of surface fat, and pounded to even ¾-inch thickness, at room temperature
- Olive oil, as needed
- Salt and black pepper, as needed
- 1 whole head of roasted garlic (optional)
- 1.5 tablespoons fresh herb filling (see above)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- Fresh herb filling (see above)
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup bread crumbs (fresh), coarse
- Place oven rack to the lower-middle position. Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Combine the chopped rosemary, thyme, parsley, mint and basil in a medium sized bowl. Add the minced garlic and olive oil, stir to combine.
- Remove 1.5 tablespoons herb mixture to small bowl and reserve for the lamb filling.
- Combine the remaining herb mixture, grated Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs for the bread topping, reserve.
- Lay a few pieces of plastic wrap on a flat surface, enough to fit the butterflied lamb. Place the lamb with interior side (which was against bone) facing up on work surface. Cover with additional plastic wrap, and pound out the meat to ¾ inches in thickness.
- Drizzle 2 teaspoons of olive oil onto the pounded meat and season lamb generously with salt and pepper.
- Evenly spread the roasted garlic over the meat. Spread the 1.5 tablespoons of reserved herb mixture over the meat, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge.
- Roll the lamb into a tight cylinder, and then tie the entire length of the roast with butchers twine to prevent the roast from unrolling during cooking.
- Season the outside of the tied roast with salt and pepper, then rub with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Line the bottom of a rimmed baking sheet with foil, then place roasting rack on the sheet, set aside.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, about 3 minutes. Sear lamb until well browned on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Using tongs, stand roast on each end to sear about 30 seconds per end. Transfer the seared roast onto the rack.
- Roast until the thickest part of the roast reaches 120°F, approximately 30 to 35 minutes.
- Remove the roast from the oven and transfer lamb to cutting board. Remove and discard the string. If the roast begins to unravel, insert toothpicks to help close the areas.
- Coat the exterior of the lamb (sides and top) with the Dijon mustard.
- Gently press the breadcrumb mixture onto the top and sides if the roast with your hands, pressing down to create a solid, even coating adhering to the meat.
- Place the coated roast back on the rack. Cook until the thickest part of the roast reaches 130-135 °F (medium-rare), approximately 15 to 25 minutes.
- Transfer meat to cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest 10 to 15 minutes. Cut into ½-inch slices and serve.
Source: Cooks Illustrated