The Genuine Kitchen: Grilled Leg of Lamb with Cranberry Salsa Verde

Big, fat, oven-roasted turkey - check.  Stuffing, gravy, cranberry

sauce - check.  Grilled leg of lamb with cranberry salsa verde? Oh yes!

Check please!

Whether it's Thanksgiving, or a big family get-together, this twist on

a traditional staple will wow 'em.  Bone-in leg of lamb has marvelous

flavor and is a traditional roast for festive family gatherings. There

is a great deal of versatility in this cut, but for me, it can only be

prepared one way - on a grill. Slow roasted on a grill keeps the lamb

really tender and moist, while adding a delicious smoky taste. The

yogurt and lemon marinade help carry the deep flavors of the lamb and

also help give the meat a nice crust. The lamb needs to marinate for

several hours, so plan accordingly.

A leg of lamb is one of simplest roasts to carve. There are no

complicated techniques involved and the only tools required are a sharp

knife and a cutting board. Hold the leg bone securely with a clean

kitchen towel and lift it up slightly so the leg is tilted. Slice the

rounded side of the meat into thin pieces until you hit the bone. Turn

the leg over so it sits steady on the board and carve the other side in

the same manner. Cutting should always be across the grain of the meat,

which radiates outwards from the bone and produces more tender slices.

Serves 6 to 8

1 (6-pound) leg of lamb, bone in, trimmed of excess fat
1/2 cup Greek-style yogurt
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
3 lemons, halved
Salsa Verde (recipe follows)

Put the lamb in a large roasting pan and pat dry with paper towels.

In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, rosemary, lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well to combine. Using your hands, rub the paste all over the lamb. Cover with plastic wrap and marinade in the refrigerator for at least 6 or even better overnight, turning occasionally.

Preheat an outdoor gas grill and get it very hot. Rub the grill grates with oil to prevent sticking. Put the leg of lamb on the grill, reduce the heat to the lowest setting, and close the cover.  Grill the lamb for 75 minutes, turning periodically, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the lamb registers about 135°F (be careful that the thermometer does not touch the bone.) Remove the lamb to a cutting board and allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving. The internal temperature will continue to rise 5 to 10 degrees. Right before serving, put the lemon halves, cut-side down, on the grill and char for 1 minute - you won't believe how much juice you get.

To serve: Drizzle the lamb with salsa verde and give a good squeeze of lemon juice.

Rainy-day method: Prepare the lamb as above, but roast in a roasting pan in a preheated 325°F oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours for medium-rare.

Salsa Verde

Makes 3/4 cup

1/4 cup of sugar
1 cup of cranberries
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, firmly packed, chopped
3 tablespoons capers, drained, rinsed, and chopped
2 anchovies in oil, drained and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 shallot, chopped
Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a large sauce pan over high heat, bring 1/2 cup of water and 1/4 cup of sugar to a boil.  Add the cranberries and cook for about 1 minute.  Remove the cranberries with a slotted spoon and place on a large plate (or small baking sheet with rim) to cool.  They shouldn't be mushy, but should be just popped.  

In a small bowl, combine the cranberries, parsley, capers, anchovies, garlic, shallot, zest, pepper, red pepper flakes, and oil. Mix with a spoon to combine.