The Best Cooking Method For A Leg Of Lamb

When it comes to serving a hearty, festive meal to a large group, a whole leg of lamb is an ideal choice. For one thing, the whole leg is formidably large, particularly when the butcher leaves in the bone. Moreover, while lamb may be pricier than other meats — including beef, the leg is one of the lamb's more moderately priced cuts. And for that, you get a truly impressive-looking cut surrounded by a layer of fat that tenderizes and protects the meat as it cooks while also imparting rich flavors and aromas. 

But as perfect as it may be as a holiday table focal point, leg of lamb is not all that popular as such in the U.S. Whether driven by price or by the fact that lamb isn't always readily available in American supermarkets, the upshot is that many people have never had an opportunity to cook a leg of lamb. Accordingly, they don't know how — and who wants to take on a holiday dish they've never cooked before? 

All in all, a leg of lamb can be a cinch to cook. And while various cooking methods exist, such as slow cooking — there's one way that will guarantee a flavorful, tender, and succulent meal every time. 

Roast your leg of lamb for delightful and easy results

Young animals make for the most tender meat. By definition, lamb is slaughtered before age one, and the leg is one of lamb's most tender cuts. Tender meats require no braising, stewing, or any other form of wet cooking. So, as a starting matter, cooking a leg of lamb requires no advance marinating, and it can be cooked using only the dry ambient heat of your oven — i.e., roasting. 

While there would be nothing wrong with braising a leg of lamb, the fact is that roasting yields what many consider to be the best possible results  — warm and tender on the inside, with a browned, caramelized crust on the outside. And the best part is that doing so requires nothing more labor intensive than preheating your oven to a low temperature, say 300 to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, placing the leg of lamb in a roasting pan, seasoning to taste, and setting a timer. 

According to American Lamb, for medium rare, you'll want to go with 20 to 25 minutes per pound, removing the pan from the oven when the meat reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. The time will be slightly longer for medium and well to get them to their respective internal temperatures.