Leg of Lamb with Garlic Sauce

By • March 25, 2010 13 Comments

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Author Notes: Everyone who has eaten this dish says it’s the best Leg of Lamb they’ve ever tasted. I agree, and I can verify that it's the highlight of one of the most requested classes I have ever taught. Just be sure you don’t overcook the meat. Lamb tastes best when it's rare and juicy.ChefJune

Food52 Review: A classic leg of lamb at first glance, this recipe by ChefJune has several details that elevate it from the mundane to the exceptional. The leg is larded not only with garlic, but with pieces of anchovy as well, which lend a rich brininess to the meat. A generous crust of herbs renders the meat fragrant, while a simple sauce of sauteed garlic (24 cloves!) and red wine, mixed with pan drippings, makes the dish even more juicy and robust. Make sure to test the temperature frequently towards the end -- the last thing you want is 5 pounds of overcooked lamb! - A&MThe Editors

Serves 8 generously

for the lamb

  • 1 5-pound leg of lamb, bone in (I especially like a long shin bone for presentation)
  • 6 large garlic cloves, slivered
  • 12 anchovy fillets, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Garlic Sauce

  • 24 garlic cloves, peeled, left whole
  • 1 cup dry red wine (such as Côte du Rhône)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley (preferably flat-leaf)
  1. Have your butcher prepare the meat by removing most of the fat and skin from the leg, and by removing most of the bare bone that protrudes from the leg. If you want a slightly smaller leg, have him (or her!) shorten it from the hip end. When you’re ready to roast it, trim lamb of any excess fat. Make many slits all over the lamb and insert a sliver of garlic and a piece of anchovy in each incision. Finely chop the rosemary and thyme and mix the herbs with sea salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the lamb with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and the herb mixture. Let it stand for 1 to 2 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place the meat on a rack in a roasting pan, and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F., and cook for 40 to 45 minutes for medium rare lamb. The temperature on an instant-read thermometer should register 130 degrees F. (That’s how it’s supposed to be!)
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a heavy skillet, and cook the 24 garlic cloves slowly for about 10 minutes, or until they are soft (don’t let the edges get crisp—or brown). Set aside in a small bowl.
  4. Remove lamb to a warmed platter, and turn off the oven. Cover with an aluminum foil tent and set it in the oven to keep warm while you prepare the sauce. On top the stove, put wine into the roasting pan, scraping the bottom well to loosen any brown bits or caramelized juices, and cook the wine over a high flame to reduce it by about one-third. Add the reduced liquid to the garlic cloves. Mash well with a fork, and add sea salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Slice the lamb and grind some fresh black pepper over it. Spoon on the sauce, and sprinkle it all with freshly chopped parsley.
  6. There are two wines that pair magnificently with this dish. Not surprisingly, they both come from Provence: Châteauneuf-du-Pape (my favorite is Clos des Pape), and Bandol Rouge (I love those from Domaine Tempier inordinately!) If you are on a budget, a Côte du Rhône will do admirably.

More Great Recipes: Lamb|Entrees|Olive Oil

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Comments (13) Questions (6)


over 1 year ago Pegeen

Pegeen is a trusted home cook.

I made this a while ago. The lamb and the wine recommendations were delicious. For anyone who might need help with a bone-in leg of lamb, here are a couple easy steps from Real Simple magazine on how to carve it nicely.


over 4 years ago obleak1

I made this today for Easter Sunday luncheon. Really outstanding dish. I set the lamb directly on the oven rack with a pan underneath. I did roast the garlic, used two cups of wine (a GSM), and strained the sauce and finished it with a bit of butter. Served with a gold potato gratin and thyme/brown sugar roasted baby carrots. Thanks June! This is going into the rotation.


over 4 years ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

so glad you liked it! Wow, when I read that you put the lamb directly on the rack, I was thinking about potatoes and mushrooms roasted on a sheet pan beneath with the fat and juices dripping down on them... Made my mouth water, even though the last thing I am tonight is hungry!


over 1 year ago akrainey

I'll be roasting a 7-8 lb leg to medium temp. How long should I roast after decreasing the temp to 350? Thanks!


over 4 years ago jellygood

One of my favourite lamb recipes (albeit cooked with white not red wine) is a similar recipe by Simon Hopkinson http://www.seriouseats.... Look forward to trying your red wine version!


about 5 years ago J-Dizzle

Mmmmm - can't wait to try this recipe soon! :o)


over 5 years ago coffeefoodwritergirl

Oh this looks absolutely delicious. I love lamb AND GARLIC and am very much looking forward to trying this!


over 5 years ago RuthD

Congrats! what a wonderful idea. I love the anchovies and the garlic. I'm drooling just thinking about it.


over 5 years ago dymnyno

CONGRATULATIONS! I just ordered your cookbook 'Festivals Cooks at Home" from Amazon...


over 5 years ago melissav

I made this yesterday and it was a breeze and delicious to boot! Thanks for the recipe.


over 5 years ago Furey and the Feast

I love that underneath the herbed crust, there's a world of garlic. This sounds outrageous, in a good way.


over 5 years ago dymnyno

I love the addition of anchovies!! The recipe is so simple but very creative. I will make it soon.


over 5 years ago Food Blogga

The anchovies must lend a briny taste. I'm sure it's lovely with the lamb.