Ever wanted to cook a whole leg of lamb at home over fire, or even better, suspended on a tripod? You can. Here’s the jist: Build a large fire of hardwood and charcoal. The smoke from fruit wood such as apple or cherry will add additional flavor, and you continue feeding for about 3 hours or so before cooking so that you develop a deep bed of hot, glowing embers. The leg should be basted about every fifteen minutes throughout the cooking process. The surface should not be allowed to burn while developing a consistently dark, rich glaze. Alternatively, the lamb leg can be slowly roasted in the oven.
The Buddha’s hand used in this recipe is a fruit in the citron family. It has a sweet, lemon blossom aroma and has no juice or pulp. The pith is not bitter so the fruit can be zested or used whole.
Chef’s note: One important thing to know about suspending a leg over fire is that you’ll need a leg with the shank attached, so that a hook can be put through two muscles together to firmly secure the leg. Shepherd Song can easily provide custom cuts like this, just send us a message!
This recipe is by chef Ben Spangler. Hailing from Minnesota, Ben draws from his Midwestern roots to create dishes that are unpretentious and delicious. Ben has competed on national television for the Food Network and appeared on local Minneapolis food networks. He is currently executive chef at Mercy in Minneapolis.
1 garlic clove sliced (optional)
4 rosemary sprigs
1 small bunch of thyme chopped
1 Tablespoon oregano
2 Tablespoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
4 Tablespoons of salt
2 oz red wine vinegar
1 Buddha’s hand zest or lemon zest
1 shallot minced
1 oz tarragon chopped
1 small bunch parsley chopped
3 sliced Thai chili peppers
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon oregano
1 cup water
1 acorn or other squash
Small handful of salad greens (pictured are dandelions)
1 ½ cups chestnuts
¼ cup ricotta cheese
1 oz micro greens
For the Brine
Add salt, minced shallots, chopped tarragon and parsley, sliced Thai chilis, cayenne pepper, oregano, red wine vinegar, Budda hand zest in a cup container, then add the water. The brine is better if made the day before so flavors can develop.
Lamb Leg Seasonings
- Shell and slice garlic into small chunks.
- Roughly chop rosemary and thyme.
- Make small diagonal slits across leg and then crosshatched.
- Rub with salt and pepper extensively.
- Insert garlic cloves (optional) and rosemary and thyme sprigs into slits.
- Lightly dust with oregano and cayenne pepper.
- Use a large meat hook to puncture through top half of shank and two muscle groups to ensure a strong hold.
- Slice acorn squash ¼” thick and then score each chestnut without cutting into flesh.
- Roast chestnuts until they crack open (about 15-20 min) while turning to prevent burning. Cool the chestnuts, then peel. Reserve the chestnut meat.
- Pan roast slices of acron squash on low heat until cooked through and reserve.
Roasting The Leg on a Tripod
- Hang on tripod over the fire.
- Make certain coal or wood is evenly distributed and not too hot as leg needs to roast slowly.
- Add coals when necessary.
- Splatter with brine every 20 min a few teaspoons at a time on all sides.
- Rotate if possible.
- Alternative: If using an oven be sure to cover with tinfoil and roast at a low temperature. At the end, turn your oven high for 10 minutes to brown and crisp the surface.
- When lamb leg reaches 120-130⁰ F in the center of the muscle remove from heat.
- Allow the lamb leg to rest after it comes to temperature for 15 minutes before slicing.
Finish and Serve
The outside of the leg will be more well done than the inner. Be sure to use the meat thermometer to determine rare to medium, or well done temperatures.
- Reheat squash slices in a hot pan before plating.
- Plate greens first, then squash and parsley.
- Season squash with oil, salt and pepper.
- Garnish with ricotta cheese, micro greens and roasted chestnuts.
- Thinly slice lamb leg.
- Drizzle with ½ teaspoon of brine.