Slow Cooked Leg of Lamb
Updated May 2, 2023
Looking for a show-stopping dish for your next special occasion? Look no further than a slow-cooked leg of lamb! With its tender, juicy meat and rich, savory flavors, this classic dish is sure to impress your guests and leave them begging for seconds. And the best part? It's surprisingly easy to make, even for novice cooks.
History of Leg of Lamb
Leg of lamb has been a popular and beloved dish for centuries, dating back to ancient times. Lamb has been a staple in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, where the animals were traditionally raised for their wool and milk, as well as their meat. In fact, lamb was often used as a sacrificial animal in religious ceremonies, particularly in the Jewish and Islamic faiths.
In Europe, lamb became a popular meat in the Middle Ages, particularly in England and France. During this time, wealthy households would roast an entire lamb on a spit, often serving it with mint sauce. As time went on, lamb became more widely available and affordable, and it has remained a favorite in many cultures ever since.
Today, leg of lamb remains a classic dish that is often reserved for special occasions, such as Easter or Christmas. Slow-roasting the leg of lamb is a traditional method that brings out the meat's tender, juicy flavors and is perfect for serving a crowd.
Slow cooking involves cooking meat at a low temperature for an extended period, allowing the meat to become tender and flavorful. A leg of lamb is an ideal cut of meat for slow cooking, as it has a good balance of meat and fat, which helps to keep it moist and juicy. To ensure your leg of lamb is cooked to perfection, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. The following temperature table explains when the meat is done, from rare to well-done:
|Level of Doneness||
125°F - 130°F (51.7°C - 54.4°C)
130°F - 135°F (54.4°C - 57.2°C)
135°F - 145°F (57.2°C - 62.8°C)
150°F - 160°F (65.6°C - 71.1°C)
Slow-cooking a leg of lamb is the best option because it allows the meat to cook slowly, allowing the flavors to develop and the meat to become tender and juicy. This method also allows for the fat to melt, which adds to the richness and flavor of the meat. Additionally, slow-cooking is forgiving and allows for a wider margin of error in terms of timing, ensuring that the meat is cooked evenly and to the desired level of doneness. With slow-cooking, the leg of lamb will emerge from the oven with a deliciously caramelized exterior and a succulent, melt-in-your-mouth interior.
Here are a few more tips:
- Preheat the oven: Always preheat the oven to the desired temperature before placing the lamb inside. This ensures even cooking and prevents the meat from becoming overcooked.
- Use a meat thermometer: Use a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the lamb, ensuring that it is cooked to the desired level of doneness. The ideal internal temperature for medium-rare lamb is 135°F to 140°F, and 145°F to 150°F for medium.
- Cover with foil: Covering the lamb with foil during the initial roasting period helps to trap in the juices and prevent the meat from drying out. This also allows the lamb to cook in its own juices, adding to the depth of flavor.
- Baste the lamb: Basting the lamb with its own juices during the cooking process helps to keep the meat moist and flavorful. Use a spoon or brush to coat the lamb with the pan juices every hour or so.
- Rest the lamb: Letting the lamb rest for at least 10 minutes after it comes out of the oven allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more tender and flavorful dish.
Ingredients and Tools
To make this Slow Cooked Leg of Lamb recipe, you will need the following ingredients and tools:
- FFF Leg of Lamb: The star of the show, this leg of lamb is slow-cooked to perfection and seasoned with garlic, onion, rosemary, and red wine for a delicious flavor.
- Salt and Pepper: Used to season the lamb and enhance its flavor.
- Olive Oil: Drizzled over the lamb to help it cook evenly and add flavor.
- Garlic: Placed in the roasting pan with the lamb to add flavor.
- Onion: Also placed in the roasting pan with the lamb to add flavor.
- Rosemary: Used to season the lamb and add a delicious herb flavor.
- Beef Stock/Broth: Used to create a nutritious gravy.
- Red Wine: Added to the pan to create a sauce sauce.
- Flour: Used to thicken the gravy.
- Metal roasting pan
- Aluminum foil
- Large spoon
- Cutting board
How to Make Slow Cooked Leg of Lamb
- Preheat the oven to 335°F.
- Prep the garlic, onion, and rosemary by peeling the garlic and chopping the onion into chunks. Strip the leaves from the rosemary sprigs and discard the stems.
- Place the garlic, onion, and rosemary in a large metal roasting pan. Make sure the pan is big enough to hold the lamb leg comfortably.
- Place the lamb leg in the roasting pan on top of the vegetables, with the fat side facing up. Sprinkle the lamb generously with salt and pepper, and rub it in with your hands.
- Turn the lamb leg over so that it's sitting mostly on the garlic and onion. Sprinkle more salt and pepper on the other side, and rub it in with your hands.
- Drizzle the olive oil over the lamb leg, making sure it's evenly coated.
- Pour the beef stock, water, and red wine around the lamb in the roasting pan. The liquid may not completely cover the lamb, and that's okay. This liquid will create a flavorful broth that you can use to make gravy later.
- Cover the roasting pan tightly with foil, making sure the edges are tightly sealed.
- Place the roasting pan in the oven and let it cook for 4 hours. This long cooking time is necessary to break down the tough fibers in the lamb and make it tender.
- After 4 hours, remove the roasting pan from the oven and carefully remove the foil. Be careful, as the steam will be hot.
- Use a pair of tongs or a spatula to turn the lamb leg over so that the other side is facing up. Check the meat to ensure that it's tender enough to pry a bit off easily with a fork. If it's not tender enough, return it to the oven, covered, for another 30 minutes to an hour, until it's tender enough.
- Once the lamb is tender, return it to the oven, uncovered, for another 45 minutes to an hour. This will allow the lamb to brown and develop a crispy crust on the outside.
- Remove the lamb from the oven and transfer it to a serving platter. Cover the lamb loosely with foil to keep it warm while you make the gravy.
- To make the gravy, place the roasting pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Use a large spoon to skim off and discard some of the fat from the surface of the liquid in the pan.
- Sprinkle the flour over the liquid in the pan and use a whisk to mix it in, stirring constantly. This may take a few minutes as the liquid reduces.
- Once the flour is mixed in, slowly whisk in 1/2 to 1 cup of water until the gravy reaches your desired consistency. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour the gravy over the lamb and serve immediately. Enjoy!
How to Store Slow-Cooked Leg of Lamb
If you have any leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. To reheat, place the lamb in a baking dish with some of the gravy and cover with foil. Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 15-20 minutes, or until heated through.
Variations on the Recipe
There are plenty of ways to mix up the flavors of your slow-cooked leg of lamb. Here are a few variations you can try:
- Moroccan-style: Add some chopped dates, apricots, and spices like cinnamon, cumin, and coriander for a North African twist.
- Greek-style: Mix together some lemon juice, garlic, oregano, and olive oil and rub it all over the lamb before roasting. Serve with tzatziki and pita bread.
- Indian-style: Rub the lamb with a mixture of garam masala, turmeric, cumin, and coriander. Add some diced tomatoes, onions, and potatoes to the roasting pan for a one-pot meal.
Questions and Answers
Q: Can I make this recipe in a slow cooker?
A: Yes, you can make this recipe in a slow cooker. Simply follow the same steps as outlined in the recipe, but instead of roasting the lamb in the oven, place it in the slow cooker on low heat for 8 hours or until tender. Be sure to use a slow cooker large enough to fit the lamb leg comfortably.
Q: Can I make this recipe with a bone-in leg of lamb?
A: Yes, you can use a bone-in leg of lamb for this recipe. However, it will likely require a longer cooking time than a boneless leg of lamb. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the lamb to ensure it is cooked to your desired level of doneness.
Q: Can I use a different type of wine in the recipe?
A: Yes, you can use a different type of wine in the recipe. Red wine is traditional for this recipe, but you can experiment with different types of red wine to see which one you prefer. Alternatively, you can use white wine or even beer in place of the red wine.
Q: What can I serve with slow-cooked leg of lamb?
A: Slow-cooked leg of lamb pairs well with a variety of side dishes, such as roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, rice pilaf, or a simple salad. You can also serve it with a homemade gravy made from the pan drippings.
Full Recipe for Slow Cooked Leg of Lamb
- 3.0 lb FFF Leg of Lamb
- Salt and pepper
- 1.0 tbsp olive oil
- 3/4 whole garlic head
- 1 onion
- 2 rosemary sprigs
- 3 cups beef stock/broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup red wine
- 4 tbsp flour
- 1 cup water
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 335°F.
- Place garlic, onion and rosemary in a metal roasting pan. Place lamb leg right side up. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and rub it in.
- Turn lamb over and place it so it mostly sits on the garlic and onion. Sprinkle with more salt and pepper, rub it in.
- Drizzle lamb with olive oil. Pour broth, water, and wine around the lamb (may not completely cover). Cover with foil.
- Place in the oven and roast for 4 hours.
- Remove from the oven, remove foil. Turn lamb over. Check it to ensure the meat is tender enough to pry a bit off easily with a fork. If not, return, covered, to oven.
- Return uncovered lamb to oven for a further 45 minutes or until well browned.
- Remove lamb, spoon over pan juices generously. Transfer to serving platter, cover loosely with foil while you make the gravy.
For the Gravy
- Skim fat: Use a large spoon to skim off and discard some of the fat from the surface of the liquid.
- Add flour: Place pan on the stove on medium high. When the liquid bubbles, add flour. Use a whisk to mix it in – this may take a few minutes as the liquid reduces.
- Add water: Whisk in 1/2 – 1 cup of water until it becomes a gravy consistency to your taste. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.