Friday, July 6, 2012

Grilled Lamb Gyros

I feel like I hit this one out of the ballpark.  The lamb I grilled up for dinner last night was probably the best lamb I have ever tasted.  At least on par with some of the dishes I tasted at the Lamb Jam last month.  (This may sound arrogant but I am dead serious.)
This recipe is from Epicurious and was perfect for this heatwave we are experiencing in DC.  Even though I have the luxury of sitting in air-conditioning all day, this heat makes me want to do nothing.  I don't want to walk anywhere, I don't want to clean dishes, and I really did not want to fiddle with a labor-intensive recipe.  The American Lamb Board sent me a leg of lamb from Superior Farms and I had all these intentions to make some crazy recipes with it. In the end, I chose a simple recipe and it turned out to be extraordinary.

Here is how I would describe this recipe to my friends. "Throw mint, basil, parsley, rosemary, oregano, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, salt and pepper into a food processor. Blend until smooth. Throw mixture into a gallon-size Ziploc bag with lamb. Marinate for 24-48 hours in fridge. Take out and leave at room temperature for 1 hour. Place lamb on a hot grill and close lid of grill. Allow to cook for 15 minutes. Flip the lamb, brush on some of the marinade, and grill on medium heat for 15 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 150F."  (I love my meat thermometer.)
Because it was so hot outside, I actually left the grill and stood inside my apartment building while the meat cooked.  I monitored it through the window and could see my apartment neighbors pausing as they walked by the grill.  The lamb smelled that good.  They looked around and saw me standing by the window giving them the stink-eye that said "get away from my lamb." They backed off.

Here is the recipe from for those who want more thorough directions. Please note that I only used a one-pound slab of meat because I didn't want to waste the lamb in case the recipe wasn't good. That was a mistake. I should have cooked the entire leg.

1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
4 sprigs chopped fresh rosemary leaves. (rub down the length of the stem to remove leaves. Discard stem)
2 Tbs dried oregano (fresh is not better in this case!)
8 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
the zest of 1/2 lemon
the juice of 2 lemons, or 1 cup of fresh lemon juice sold in the plastic lemon in supermarkets.
1 Tbs course salt
1 Tbs freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
One butterflied leg of lamb (ask your butcher to do this for you and have them remove tough membranes and fat).

Combine first 11 ingredients. Rub well into both sides of lamb. Place lamb in large zip-type storage bag or leave in bowl covered. Place into refrigerator for at least 2 days and up to 3.
Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before cooking to allow lamb to come to room temperature. Wipe off most herb mixture, reserving marinade for basting.
Roast lamb over coals or low gas grill heat covered for 20 minutes, basting and turning after 10 minutes. Remove cover and baste and grill another 10 minutes (5 minutes each side) or until lamb is cooked medium - medium rare. Remove to platter, tent with foil and let lamb rest for at least 15 minutes.

This lamb recipe is really amazing. The herb mixture leaves this tasty crust and the lamb is juicy and flavorful. I did cook the first side on high heat just to make sure it got a good crust on it. It was so great being able to use the herbs from our balcony garden. We sliced it up and made lamb gyros with pita bread, hummus, lettuce, red peppers, onions, a yogurt sauce and feta cheese. Even Marshall ate it up and he is not the biggest fan of lamb. Look at this picture below. Isn't it gorgeous? The best part was I barely had any clean up other than to scrape down the grill.

Happy Grilling!

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