Grilled Leg of Lamb with Caramelized Lemon Jus

Jeremy’s parents were here recently to visit us for the first time since they moved across the country in 2004. They wanted to meet their new grandson or something—go figure. 🙂 Anyway, they were only here for a few days, but I wanted to make sure to cook them at least one nice meal, because I haven’t had the opportunity to do so since long before I knew my way around the kitchen.

I was already planning to make my July Daring Bakers challenge for them, but asked for Jeremy’s input as to what they might like for dinner, and his response was lamb. His response is almost always lamb, parents or no parents, so I’m always on the lookout for a new recipe. I decided to try out the grilled stuffed leg of lamb in the August Bon Appetit, which is served with caramelized lemon jus, and Jeremy brought home an appropriately boneless hunk of meat for me to pound into oblivion. After stuffing and trussing the lamb, I gave it an hour or so to marinate in lemon juice and olive oil while making the lemon jus. Jeremy’s mom was good enough to entertain Nolan while I worked, and then watched over the grilling lamb when I had to go pump.

It took longer to cook on our cast iron grill pan than I anticipated, despite my efforts to keep the stuffed lamb on the flat side. I had more than enough time to prep some rainbow chard for a side, blanching the leaves separately from the stems. The recipe didn’t mention whether or not to strain the jus, so I went ahead with it. I think my decision to make the jus in advance and keep it warm on a back burner contributed to a bitter overtone, as it contains whole grilled lemon slices, pith and all. A pinch of extra sugar tweaked its flavor just enough to offset the bitterness, though, and the acidity of the jus paired up nicely with both the meat and the simply sauteed chard.

Grilled Leg of Lamb with Caramelized Lemon Jus

1 well-trimmed 4 to 4-1/2 pound boneless leg of lamb with shank end removed
4 large garlic cloves; 3 chopped, 1 sliced
2 tsp finely grated lemon peel
20 fresh sage leaves (about), divided
4 oz thinly sliced pancetta (Italian bacon)
3 T fresh lemon juice
3 T extra-virgin olive oil

Open lamb, boned side up, like book. Trim most sinew and fat, being careful not to cut any holes in meat. Make one 3/4- to 1-inch-deep full-length cut in each thick portion of lamb (do not cut through to work surface). Cover lamb with sheet of plastic wrap. Using rolling pin, pound to even 1- to 1 1/2-inch thickness (lamb will be about 8×19 inches).

Peel off plastic wrap. Sprinkle lamb evenly with salt and pepper, chopped garlic, and lemon peel. Top with 15 sage leaves, spaced evenly apart. Cover with pancetta. Starting at 1 long side, fold lamb in half. Tie lamb tightly at 2-inch intervals into long roll. Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper. Whisk lemon juice and oil in medium bowl; season with salt and pepper. Brush mixture all over lamb and let stand at room temperature 1 hour.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Place lamb on grill and sear on all sides. Continue to grill until thermometer inserted into thickest part registers 130°F for rare, turning and brushing occasionally with lemon juice mixture, about 45 minutes. Transfer to cutting board. Let rest 10 minutes. Cut lamb into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Serve with Caramelized Lemon Jus.

Caramelized Lemon Jus

1 large lemon, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices
1/3 C extra-virgin olive oil
3 large shallots, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
10 large fresh sage leaves
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
3 T sugar
2/3 C dry white wine
2 C beef broth

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Grill lemon slices until charred, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to plate; chop coarsely.

Heat 1/3 cup olive oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add sage leaves, garlic, and grilled lemon pieces with any juices, then sugar. Cook until shallots start to color, about 5 minutes. Add wine, and simmer until liquid has mostly reduced. Add beef broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until jus is reduced to 3 cups, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Source: Bon Appetit, August 2008

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