Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Spring Gremolata

Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Spring GremolataHoled Up for the Holiday
Easter is going to be different this weekend. To be fair, we’ll still do most of the same things we would normally do. There will be Easter baskets and chocolate bunnies (though they may be a bit smaller). There won’t be any fancy clothes, which frankly, won’t upset too many of us. We’ll just put on our “good” pair of sweats. There will be Easter dinner but there will not be the traditional purple goblets that my grandmother always used. Well, at least not at my house. My sister will probably use them while also wearing her “good” sweats.

But what to cook?

During the first full week of the shelter-in-place order, I was thrilled to know that HoneyBaked Ham was still up and running. So I walked up the street and bought a bigger ham than I needed and a couple of their soup and chili mixes. We ate ham for dinner and had sandwiches for days. I used the bone to make a fantastic soup and put the rest of the ham in the freezer for later use. We happily devoured that ham but it left me with a problem for Easter. We normally do ham on Easter but at this point, my family can’t even look at it. And, I agree which means we’re going with door number two…leg of lamb.

Lamb for Easter is a no-brainer. It’s springtime—and few things are more synonymous with springtime than lamb. There are a number of ways you could choose to prepare your lamb. I’m opting for a butterflied leg, to make it easier to slice. Growing up my grandmother would do a full, on the bone, very traditional leg of lamb that she studded with garlic cloves and then roasted in the oven. (Yes, there was mint jelly.) It was fantastic. But, I’m just not feeling it. Maybe I’m bored, maybe I’m rebellious. But, I want something with brighter bolder flavors so I’m throwing mine on the grill.

This recipe has a decidedly Middle Eastern flavor with Aleppo pepper and lemon. Feel free to substitute what you don’t have. I’ve had to do a lot of that lately. Every meal has been a bit of an adventure. The pepper can be swapped for hot paprika or even straight-up red chili flakes. I would encourage you to use as many of the fresh herbs as possible though I get it. They may be hard to come by. If you can find them rejoice. That bright, happy, fresh flavor is something that everyone could use a little of right now!

Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Spring Gremolata
Yields 12 servings
Adapted from NY Times Cooking

1 boneless butterflied leg of lamb, 5 to 6 pounds (ask our butchers)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
8 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper, or substitute hot paprika or red chile flakes
Grated zest of 2 lemons
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice,
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup chopped mint
2 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced

Season the lamb

Pat the leg of lamb dry with paper towels and place it on a rimmed baking sheet. Season all over with salt and pepper.

Make the marinade
Set aside 1 teaspoon of the garlic. In a bowl, combine the remaining garlic with the thyme, oregano, cumin, Aleppo pepper, lemon zest, and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice. Drizzle in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil (just enough to create a paste). Rub the mixture all over the lamb. Cover it with plastic wrap and allow it to marinate for minimally 1 hour or, overnight in the refrigerator.

Prepare the gremolata
In a small bowl, combine a pinch of salt, the remaining teaspoon of garlic, the remaining tablespoon of lemon juice, parsley, cilantro, mint, and scallion. Stir well.

Drizzle in the remaining oil. Season with more lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste.

Allow the mixture sit for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld and mellow.

Grill the lamb
Remove lamb from the refrigerator and allow it to sit at room temperature for at least an hour.

Prepare grill. When the grill is hot, place lamb over direct heat. Grill the lamb for 12 to 15 minutes per side until the lamb reaches 125º to 130º F for medium-rare in the thickest parts. Cook for a few minutes less per side if you like your lamb more on the rare side.

Allow the lamb to stand for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

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