8 cloves of garlic, cut into slivers plus 25 whole cloves
15 anchovy filets (usually one small tin) finely chopped
3 Tbsp. olive oil (for lamb)
2 Tbsp. Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 cup of Cote due Rhone red wine (or another dry red wine that you like to drink)
3 cups beef broth
1 Tbsp. olive oil (for gravy)
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary (for gravy)
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme (for gravy)
Salt and pepper to taste (for gravy)
For Garlic Gravy
NOTE: If you haven’t made a leg of lamb before, it can be intimidating but take it on as a challenge. It really isn’t hard to cook a leg of lamb. There is just some prep work involved to get the meat ready and flavored perfectly. Leg of Lamb (actually, lamb in general) is very fatty. So you want to remove as much of the excess fat as possible. If you have a good butcher, they’ll do this for you. If you are going to do it (and maybe this is your first time?) just be sure you have a sharp knife and set aside ½ hour to you can pay attention to the meat.
First, take it out of its packaging and rinse with cold water. Pat it dry with paper towels and put on a stable cutting board. “Feel the meat” (yes, you heard me right)! While you can see a lot of the excess fat that you’ll want to remove, it you feel it, you will find hard, think fat that absolutely must be removed. It is not pleasant to try and cut, chew or eat. So, using your sharp knife, cut away that heavy, think fat layer. Remove any excess fat you find BUT (very important here) leave a bit of fat to protect the meat and to add tons of flavor to the dish. Once you’ve trimmed your lamb, you are ready to start creating little slices to insert your garlic and anchovies. Follow the steps from that point on.
Another note for my friends that wouldn’t “think of eating an anchovies”, you aren’t going to taste or see anything resembling an anchovy when this lamb is finished cooking. The anchovy is like a secret weapon. It is salty and gives this unbelievable taste to the meat. It melts right in and is absolutely delicious. I wouldn’t even mention it to your Anchovy Hating Friends. What they don’t know, they will love!!!!
The most important thing to watch here is cooking time and your oven. It doesn’t matter how many hours I tell you to roast the meat for IF your oven is “different”. Guess what? They are all different. I made this recipe at my nieces home this year and what usually took 1-½ hours took 2 ½ hours (that oven just did not heat up!). So use the time to cook as a guideline and rely on a good thermometer. With that said, there are also lots of debates on how well-done lamb should be. I personally like my lamb more cooked than my beef so I aim for medium (still pink in the middle). BUT, at this same dinner with family, I had people demanding rare lamb and others that didn’t want to see any pink or blood at all. Well done was the mantra for them. (Imagine those poor chefs in big restaurants! How do they do it?) So, know your oven or be willing to give yourself more time and flexibility in the kitchen, buy a thermometer and do the best you can with the demands of your family. No matter how you like your lamb, the flavors in this recipe are amazing.