Serves 6 to 8.
- 1⁄2 cup chopped mixed fresh rosemary, thyme and oregano
- 2 chopped garlic cloves
- 2 tsp. lemon zest
- 1 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
- 6 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 bone-in leg of lamb, 5 to 6 lb.
- 12 fresh rosemary sprigs
- 5 heads of garlic, 1⁄4 inch cut off the top
- 1⁄4 cup Madeira, (optional)
- 2 cups beef stock
Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 470°F.
In a small bowl, combine the mixed herbs, chopped garlic, lemon zest, the 1 tsp. salt, 3 Tbs. of the olive oil and pepper. Coat the lamb with the mixture.
In a large roasting pan over medium-high heat, warm the remaining 2 Tbs. oil. Add the lamb and brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter.
Arrange the rosemary in the center of the pan. Place the lamb, fat side up, on top. Arrange the garlic heads around the lamb. Roast 15 minutes on the higher heat and then turn down to 350 and continue cooking until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat, away from the bone, registers 135°F for medium-rare, about 1 hour total. Transfer the lamb to a carving board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 15 minutes.
Skim the fat from the pan, set over medium heat and add the Madeira or ½ cup of beef broth, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan and smash the roasted garlic. Add the rest of the stock. Strain the sauce into a saucepan, set over medium heat and cook until thickened, 5 to 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.
Carve the lamb into thin slices and arrange on a warmed platter. Serve the sauce along side.
To create a delicious sauce after roasting the lamb, this recipe employs a technique known as deglazing. When meat is roasted in a pan, the caramelizing process produces a fond, a coating of browned bits on the pan bottom. After the meat is removed, the pan is deglazed by adding wine, stock or other liquid. The liquid is heated and the cook stirs and scrapes with a wooden spoon to release the browned bits, which add depth of flavor to the finished sauce.