This week has been a whirlwind. Jeremy and I have been packing since we got back from our trip to Palm Desert last weekend, we got the keys to our new place in North Hollywood on Wednesday so slowly started moving things over then, but yesterday was the big rent-a-U-Haul-and-put-all-the-stuff-we-couldn't-fit-in-my-ford-focus day. It was tiring, and at times this past week I wondered if we'd actually be able to move all our stuff to the new place in time, but with the help of friends it came off without a hitch and everything was made it over to North Hollywood in one piece. To celebrate the new place, and since it's getting close to Easter, I thought I'd make my Dad's leg of lamb recipe. I've posted this recipe before over at my old blog, 52 Weeks of Greek, but wanted to make it again here because I was craving it terribly. It's my favorite preparation for lamb; the garlic, oregano, olive oil, pepper and butter are simply there to enhance the lamb's natural earthy flavors, and roasting it in an oven bag helps keep the meat nice and juicy and prevents it from drying out. And now that the whole place smells like lamb, it really feels like home. However, looking around me at all the boxes that still need to be unpacked leaves me longing for the Palm Desert again...
Ahhh the Palm Desert. Such a beautiful place. It was so great to get away with Jeremy last weekend and try all the amazing selections at the Food & Wine Festival there. I'd never been to a food/wine festival before and didn't know what to expect, but I was handed a wine glass by a friendly face immediately upon entering, and at that point I knew I was going to have an excellent afternoon. Each vendor was set up with their own table, and there was an even mix of both food and wine companies with glass-rinsing stations set up throughout. There were so many great vendors there, it was very difficult for me to narrow it down to my top three, but somehow I did it, so here it goes. My favorites from the wine selections were Crispin Cider (an alcoholic apple cider company with a wide array of tasty ciders, my favorite of theirs was The Saint, a creamy Belgian Trappist-style cider with hints of maple), South Coast Winery (a winery over in Temecula that had an amazing and fruity sparkling Syrah, Ruby Covee, which is something I'd never seen or heard of before, and I'm a pretty big Syrah fan), and King Estate (a winery from my native Oregon that had a wonderfully light, crisp, and mildy sweet Signature Pinot Gris). My favorite of the foods were Kerrygold's Cashel Blue Farmhouse Cheese (The best mild and creamy clue cheese I've EVER had. Sometimes I find myself waking up in the middle of the night, craving it like a madwoman, and then I softly weep into my pillow because all of the grocery stores are closed), Tinto restaurant's Venison Neck Croquettes (absolutely amazing, they were pieces of venison neck meat lightly breaded and fried), and Pierro's PizzaVino, (they had an actual wood burning pizza oven set up at the festival and were making them fresh every few minutes. The difference in taste and texture between regular and woodfire pizza is huge, Pierro's pizza crusts were suuuuper fluffy and soft on the inside and nice and crunchy on the outside, and all the toppings were cooked to perfection, especially the cheese). After the food & wine festival we hit up the Shield's Date Farm, which I've wanted to go to ever since I saw a quirky short documentary about it three years ago. There were many different kinds of dates, and Jeremy and I split a date milkshake, which was delicious. You can see me enthusiastically mimicking the Shield's date sign above. I'm sorry, I just couldn't help myself.
Boneless Leg of Lamb, with netting, about 3-4 lbs
10 Cloves of Garlic, 8 whole and 2 minced
1 and 1/4 Cups Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Butter
2 Tablespoons Black Pepper
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Greek Oregano
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Plastic Oven Bag
Keep the netting on the lamb intact while you use a sharp small knife to poke 8 whole evenly spaced throughout the leg of lamb, about 1.5 inches deep. Push 1 tablespoon of the black pepper into the holes with your fingers and then rub the whole leg down with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Then, puncture the whole garlic cloves in one or two places with a knife and then stuff them into the holes in the lamb (puncturing the garlic cloves will help their flavor to seep out more readily). Place the lamb in an oven bag, tie a loose knot at the top, and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, remove the lamb from the refrigerator about 3 hours prior to when you want to begin roasting it. In a small bowl mix together the oregano, salt, and remaining tablespoon of black pepper. Set aside. Rub the leg of lamb down with another tablespoon of the olive oil, then rub it down thoroughly with the spice mixture. Pour the lemon juice, minced garlic, and remaining olive oil into the oven bag and then place the leg of lamb inside. Tie a knot at the top and refrigerate for another 2 and 1/2 hours.
Remove the oven bag of lamb from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit while the lamb warms to near room temperature. Open the bag and toss in the butter, then re-tie the bag in a tight knot. Place the oven bag in a roasting pan and then make 3 small holes, about 1 inch long, in the very topmost part of the bag so that the hot air can escape but the cooking juices won't be able to seep out of the bag.
Place the pan in the oven and roast for 20 minutes, then lower the heat to 325 and cook another 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the lamb reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit for a medium-done lamb. However, it is important to note that if your lamb leg is larger than 3-4 pounds it will take longer to cook, and the shape of the leg will also affect the cooking time, as thicker short legs will take longer to cook than longer, thinner ones.