One-Pot Wonders

Leg of Lamb With Garlic Sauce

March 25, 2010
7 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 2 hours
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 8 generously
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.

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. —ChefJune

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: ChefJune is a long-time Food52 member and food and wine educator in Boston.
WHAT: A garlic-spiked leg of lamb that's finished with (what else?) more garlic—30 cloves, to be exact.
HOW: Make slits all over a leg of lamb, then stuff garlic and anchovies into each one. Rub the leg with herbs and olive oil, then bake until medium-rare. Serve alongside a garlic and red wine sauce cooked in the pan drippings.
WHY WE LOVE IT: A classic leg of lamb at first glance, this recipe by ChefJune has several details that elevate it from the expected to the exceptional. The meat is fragrant from the herbs, briny from the anchovies, and robust from the red wine sauce. Make sure to test the temperature frequently towards the end—the last thing you want is 5 pounds of overcooked lamb! —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 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 thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • For the garlic sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 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° F. Place the meat on a rack in a roasting pan, and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350° F, and cook for 40 to 45 minutes for medium-rare lamb. The temperature on an instant-read thermometer should register 130° F. (That’s how it’s supposed to be!)
  3. To make the garlic sauce, heat the 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 of 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.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • davis p
    davis p
  • ChefJune
  • obleak1
  • jellygood
  • coffeefoodwrite
30+ years a chef, educator, writer, consultant, "winie," travel guide/coordinator

29 Reviews

mblewis September 5, 2022
Absolutely the best lamb I have ever made. I've prepared this three times in the past two months, and will undoubtedly revisit it many times over.
Philip Z. December 24, 2018
Not to take away anything away from your version, but this is a very old recipe. My mother who died almost 20 years ago, used to make this for our Easter dinner every year during my childhood, over 60 years ago. I have her very stained recipe and the main recipe is identical, but the sauce has a minor difference in that my mom's recipe did not use quite that many cloves of garlic and they were minced in the sauce. I have made it dozens or times myself. It was a nice surprise to find it here.
davis P. July 2, 2017
I cooked this for my French partner and his little French son, and they both said it was the absolute best lamb they'd *ever* tasted. I credit this entirely to the recipe (and the lamb producer), and not at *all* to my abilities! I didn't change a thing about the recipe, though my leg was a little smaller, so started checking temp earlier. I will definitely make this again!
ChefJune July 3, 2017
So glad you all liked it. It's my favorite way to prepare lamb - among many..
JenBae June 1, 2016
This looks and sounds great! Can you make this with a boneless leg of lamb? If so, how many lbs should it be without having to adjust the measurements of the other ingredients?
ChefJune June 1, 2016
JenBae, I have never ever made it with a boneless leg, but I'm sure you could. I so prefer the added flavor the bone provides. I'm not sure on the amount you'd need for boneless, but a good butcher could surely advise you.
JenBae June 1, 2016
Thank you! I can't wait to try it.
julie April 18, 2016
I had the pleasure of dining with Chef June last Christmas, and this lamb was absolutely rocking! Julie
GsR April 12, 2016
There is so much wrong with this recipie for Passover. First, for ashkanizm roasted lamb is not permitted for the Seders, second, mixing fish and meat in the same dish is not kosher, and thirdly, leg of lamb is not a kosher cut. I have never seen kosher leg of lamb in North America. But other than that, how was the play mrs. Lincoln?
ChefJune April 13, 2016
Did someone suggest this dish for Passover? I know I didn't.
GsR April 13, 2016
It was listed under the Passover recipies
ChefJune April 13, 2016
I'll bet the person who listed it wasn't Jewish. I've done lamb for Passover, but not this recipe, and I've used shoulder.
GsR April 13, 2016
Sounds about right. Hag Samach v'Kasher!
ChefJune April 14, 2016
and to you and yours.
ChefJune December 22, 2015
For anyone who's curious, this is going to be our Christmas dinner this year. Haven't made it in a while, and seeing it all over this site lately reminded me how good it is, and how much everyone always loves it. Have already pulled the Chateauneuf-du-Pape to serve with it and am salivating myself. :)
Pegeen April 13, 2014
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.
obleak1 April 24, 2011
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.
ChefJune April 24, 2011
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!
ChefGam April 10, 2014
I'll be roasting a 7-8 lb leg to medium temp. How long should I roast after decreasing the temp to 350? Thanks!
ChefJune October 27, 2015
Just realized I never answered this question. Ooops! I always use a probe thermometer set for the temperature I want at the finish. So it's hard for me to say exactly how much longer to go for a larger leg. I often roast a larger than 5 lb leg, and my probe beeps incessantly when the desired temperature is reached. I really recommend that.
jellygood April 15, 2011
One of my favourite lamb recipes (albeit cooked with white not red wine) is a similar recipe by Simon Hopkinson Look forward to trying your red wine version!
J-Dizzle August 20, 2010
Mmmmm - can't wait to try this recipe soon! :o)
coffeefoodwrite April 11, 2010
Oh this looks absolutely delicious. I love lamb AND GARLIC and am very much looking forward to trying this!
RuthD April 7, 2010
Congrats! what a wonderful idea. I love the anchovies and the garlic. I'm drooling just thinking about it.
dymnyno April 7, 2010
CONGRATULATIONS! I just ordered your cookbook 'Festivals Cooks at Home" from Amazon...
melissav April 5, 2010
I made this yesterday and it was a breeze and delicious to boot! Thanks for the recipe.
Furey A. April 1, 2010
I love that underneath the herbed crust, there's a world of garlic. This sounds outrageous, in a good way.
dymnyno April 1, 2010
I love the addition of anchovies!! The recipe is so simple but very creative. I will make it soon.
Food B. March 25, 2010
The anchovies must lend a briny taste. I'm sure it's lovely with the lamb.