Heston Blumenthal's barbecued leg of lamb is beautifully tender and succulent.
- CourseMain meal
- Prepare20 mins
- Cook40 mins
- Total time1 hr
Untie the lamb, turn it fat-side down on a board, then cut a 2-3cm deep slash along each major muscle in the leg. This will help to open it out a little more and encourage even cooking.
Season the lamb very generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cover and leave at room temperature for 20 minutes to allow the salt to penetrate the meat, and for the temperature of the meat to come up a little. Meanwhile, set up your barbecue so it's hot and ready to cook. Add the olive stones to the coals, if using charcoal (see Heston’s tips).
Place the leg of lamb fat-side down onto the barbecue, using tongs. The lamb fat will start to drip and potentially flare up in flames; control this by moving the lamb to a cooler part of the barbecue if needed. For the next 20 minutes or so you want to continually turn the meat and move it from hotter to cooler parts of the barbecue to create a nice chargrilled exterior to the lamb and to regulate the cooking.
Now find a spot away from the direct heat, but where you still have a good bit of heat radiating. Finish off the cooking at this moderate to low temperature for a further 10-15 minutes. If you have a probe, take a measurement in the thickest part of the meat; you are looking for between 50-55ºC at this point.
Mound the herbs directly onto what’s left of the coals, and sit the lamb directly above, on the rack, allowing the smoke to waft over your lamb for a few minutes. If you are using a gas barbecue, put the herbs on the rack, and sit the lamb on top. Once smoked, move the lamb to a plate and let it rest for 10-15 minutes. After resting, the temperature of the lamb will slowly rise to around 60ºC. Slice thinly, season with a few flakes of sea salt and enjoy.
To cook in the oven and finish on a barbecue:
1. Prepare and season the lamb as in steps 1 and 2 in the recipe. Cover and leave at room temperature for 20 minutes to allow the salt to penetrate the meat, and for the temperature of the meat to come up a little. Preheat the oven to 110ºC, gas mark 1/4.
2. Place the lamb fat-side down on a foil-lined roasting tin. Bake for 1 hour - 1 hr 15 minutes, until cooked but still pale. If using a probe, you are looking for 50-55ºC in the thickest part. Wrap the lamb in the foil and leave to rest for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, set up your barbecue so it's hot and ready to cook. Add the olive stones to the coals, if using charcoal (see below).
3. Put the lamb fat-side down on the barbecue, using tongs, and cook as step 3 in the recipe. If you have a probe, take a measurement in the thickest part of the meat; you are looking for between 60-65ºC at this point.
4. Smoke the lamb over the herbs as in step 5 of the recipe above, then let it rest for 10-15 minutes. After resting, the temperature of the lamb will slowly rise to between 65-70ºC. Slice thinly, season with a few flakes of sea salt and enjoy.
Olive stones burn at a very high temperature and emit a lot of heat. If you have some, add them to the coals after lighting.
Measuring with a probe:
Barbecuing this lamb is about connecting with one beautiful ingredient; the feel, smell and flavour - and keeping the cooking simple. However, using a probe to measure cooking temperatures can still be helpful, so they are included in this recipe.
Cooking on a barbecue isn’t a precise art, and each piece of lamb will vary too. Barbecuing the lamb from raw, as above, will give meat that’s medium. Cooking it in the oven then finishing it on the barbecue will give medium-well done. Both methods are ideal for lamb leg, a cut that needs that little bit more cooking but will stay succulent.
Always make sure the surface of the meat is thoroughly cooked.