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Tasty way to cook lamb

I would love it if you would create a recipe for butterflied leg of lamb. Lamb is one of my favourite meats. I prefer it to beef and I am always looking for new ways to prepare it -- roasted, barbecued, you name it, I love it.

I would love it if you would create a recipe for butterflied leg of lamb. Lamb is one of my favourite meats. I prefer it to beef and I am always looking for new ways to prepare it -- roasted, barbecued, you name it, I love it.

Linda King, Victoria

I love it when a reader asks for a recipe for one of my favourite entrées. Butterflied leg of lamb can be prepared in all sorts of succulent ways. Today I've studded it with garlic, and marinated it in balsamic vinegar, citrus juice and zest, fresh herbs and olive oil.

To "butterfly" a leg of lamb you have to remove the hip and leg bones. Once that's done, you make a few shallow cuts on the inside part of the meat. That enables you to unfold the meat and turn it into something that looks like a giant, thick steak; quite different from the long, round roast you started with.

Now, you could get a sharp boning knife, carefully follow the bones and remove them yourself. Or, you could do what I do and get my favourite butcher to butterfly a leg of lamb for me. When I do, I always ask him to give me the bones, which I turn into stock and use to create a tasty jus for the lamb once it is cooked, sliced and plated.

To make this stock, I place a small onion, celery rib, carrot and two garlic cloves, all sliced, in a roasting pan and toss them with a bit of olive oil. I then add the bones and set the pan in a 375 F oven and roast the mixture for 45 to 60 minutes, or until nicely coloured.

I transfer the bones and vegetables to a stock pot -- a tall pan I put on the stovetop -- and I cover the roasted ingredients with eight cups of water, plus a tablespoon or so of tomato paste, a bay leaf, a few black peppercorns and a sprig or two of fresh rosemary. I then bring the mixture to a simmer and simmer it 21/2 to three hours, or until a nicely flavoured stock is created.

Add additional water to the stock when simmering if needed. When it's done, strain it into a clean container.

Butterflying a leg of lamb speeds up the cooking time and makes carving much easier. It also creates much more surface area to flavour.

In the summer, I usually cook a butterflied leg of lamb on the barbecue, but in the fall and winter I like to bring the cooking indoors and roast the lamb in the oven, which I've done in today's recipe.

The best way to check the lamb for doneness is to use an instant-read meat thermometer, remembering that the meat will continue to cook once removed from the oven and allowed to rest before slicing.

For rare lamb, the internal temperature in the centre of the thickest part of the meat should be 125 to 130 F. For medium-rare it should be 130 to 135 F. Medium lamb should be 140 F, and well-done 150 F.

Another good thing about a butterflied leg of lamb is that, because some parts of it can be thick and others thinner, you usually end up with meat of varying degrees of doneness -- which is great if you have some guests who like to eat lamb rare, and others who like it more well done.

Eric Akis is the author of the recently published Everyone Can Cook Slow Cooker Meals. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.


Garlic-Studded Butterflied Leg of Lamb With Herbs and Citrus

In this recipe, boneless lamb leg is tastily marinated and flecked with aromatic slices of garlic. When slicing, be sure to do so against the grain of the meat.

Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus 8 hours marinating time

Cooking time: About 50 minutes

Makes: 8 servings

3 Tbsp chopped fresh mint

3 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp finely grated lemon zest

2 Tbsp lemon juice

2 tsp finely grated orange zest

1/4 cup orange juice

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

3 Tbsp whole grain Dijon mustard

n freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 (5-6 lb.) butterflied leg of lamb

6 large garlic cloves, thickly sliced

n salt to taste

2 1/2 cups lamb or beef stock

Make the marinade by combining the first 10 ingredients in a large, sided dish or bowl. With a sharp paring knife, make numerous slits in the lamb and insert the garlic slices into them. Set the lamb in the dish or bowl and turn to coat with the marinade. Cover, marinate and refrigerate the lamb for 8 hours, turning occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 450 F. Set the lamb in a shallow-sided roasting pan, fat side up. Spoon the marinade over the lamb; season with salt.

Roast the lamb for 20 minutes, and then reduce the heat to 325 F and cook to the desired doneness, about 30 minutes more for medium-rare.

When the lamb is cooked, set on a platter, tent with foil and rest 15 minutes. While the lamb rests, make jus to serve with it. To do so, skim excess fat from the surface of the liquid in the roasting pan. Set the roasting pan on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Pour in the stock, bring to a simmer and simmer 5 minutes.

Slice the lamb and arrange on a platter. Serve the jus in sauceboat alongside.

If there is a cooking issue that has you scratching your head, send your question to Eric by e-mail at eakis@timescolonist.

com, by fax to Ask Eric at 250-380-5353 or by regular mail to Ask Eric, Times Colonist, 2621 Douglas St., V8T 4M2