Make Ahead

Caramelized Spicy Leg of Lamb with Mint Yogurt

March 22, 2010
4 Ratings
  • Serves 6 with some leftovers
Author Notes

I created this dish as a school project last year and have continued to tweak it. It's very easy to put together, perfect for entertaining and hits just the right balance between spicy and orange caramelized flavors for a broad range of palates at the table. The meat has so much flavor that it does just fine standing alone without a sauce or pesto, but I serve this with mint yogurt on the side. When I first experimented with the mint yogurt, I was afraid the flavors would mute the spicy orange flavors. Instead, it's the perfect flavor complement to round out the dish when used for dipping lamb morsels. (I should note that the picture represents all that was left over the next day after a party where I served this dish. I had to make new mint yogurt for the picture as all that was gone.) —TheWimpyVegetarian

Test Kitchen Notes

This recipe yields a dish that takes center stage on the table, for a number of reasons. The first reason is that its presentation is easy on the eyes: the caramelized lamb slices sit in the soft glow of the paprika, cumin, coriander and cayenne rub in which they marinated and the orange juice in which they were braised. The reason this steals the show lies in its heat: two teaspoons of cayenne! While the yogurt dip does an admirable job of tempering the spice, you’re not going to want any competing strong flavors on the table with this one. A fruited couscous salad would be all that you need. Note: I made this with a boneless leg of lamb as I did not have a hacksaw handy to get through a bone-in one. - cheese1227 —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Lamb Spice Marinade and Caramelizing
  • Part 1
  • Lamb Spice Marinade
  • 10 peeled, and coarsely chopped garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • zest from 1 large navel orange
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 5 pounds leg of lamb, sliced through the bone into large steaks
  • Part 2
  • Caramelized Leg of Lamb
  • 1/2-1 cups orange juice
  • Mint Yogurt
  • 8 ounces Greek-style yogurt
  • 1/2 bunch fresh mint, finely minced (about 30 leaves)
  • pinch salt
  1. Lamb Spice Marinade and Caramelizing
  2. In a large bowl to be used for marinating the leg of lamb steaks, combine all the ingredients for the marinade except the lamb. Mix well. Add the lamb steaks rubbing the marinade over all the surfaces of the lamb. Add additional oil only if necessary. Marinate in the refrigerator for 4 hours, turning the lamb occasionally.
  3. One hour before cooking the lamb, remove the marinade from the refrigerator to allow the meat to come to room temperature.
  4. When ready to saute the steaks, add enough olive oil to a saute pan to cover the surface. Heat to medium-high heat , remove the lamb from the marinade (reserving the marinade), and sear the lamb until well browned on both sides. You will need to do this in shifts or use 2 separate saute pans to accomodate all the steaks. Don't crowd the steaks during the browning stage.
  5. Combine 1/2 cup of the orange juice with the reserved marinade. When the lamb is browned on both sides, reduce the heat and add the orange juice / marinade oil mixture and heat to a simmer. Continue to simmer, adding additional orange juice when caramelization starts, until the lamb reaches the doneness you want. Remove the meat and let it sit under foil for about 10 minutes before cutting. If necessary, continue to cook the sauce until it caramelizes. Remove from the heat to drizzle over the the lamb when it has been sliced.
  6. Cut the meat across the grain, drizzle with the caramelized orange spicy sauce in the pan (if desired), and serve with Mint Yogurt (recipe below) on the side.
  1. Mint Yogurt
  2. Combine the ingredients and let sit for 1 hour to allow flavors to meld.
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