Muscle Name(s): Tons, it’s a leg.
Other Names: Piernas, Sin Cana
Cooking Style: Roast or Braise
Certain cuts have certain connotations for me. Whenever I think of Porterhouses I think of Fiorentinas in Italy; whenever I think of London Broil I think of Saturday nights with my wife back when we were dating. And whenever I think of leg of lamb I think of back when I was a Viking, sailing the heaving North sea with nothing but a flagon of mead and an haunch of rarest mutton to stave off the biting cold. That last part didn’t entirely happen, but the fact remains that cooking and eating a leg of lamb conjures up something primal. There’s no mistaking that you’re eating a part of a once-living creature when you can see a recognizable part of it’s anatomy right in front of you.
There are two distinct schools of though relating to the cooking of a leg of lamb. You can either roast a leg until it’s achieved your desired doneness (rare, medium rare, etc), or you can slow cook it until it’s falling apart tender. Slow cooking a leg of lamb is, in my overly entitled opinion, a bit of a waste of time for such a great cut. It certainly tastes fine slow cooked, but you’ll get such better results using that method if you went for my second favorite cut of lamb - the shoulder. Most butchers charge much more for the leg than they do the shoulder, so you’re playing yourself out of a better meal and also actual money.
This being the most quintessential of British cuts I figured I’d pass along a simple recipe from the man himself. It’s on page 239 of the Meat Book which I’m just going to assume you have at this point.
River Cottage Roast Lamb
1 leg of lamb (or mutton which we didn’t even talk about but oh my god if you can find it, do it!)
2 or 3 large garlic cloves cut into thick slivers
4 Anchovy Filets chopped into pieces
Sprigs of Rosemary, broken up
Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1. Put the lamb into a roasting pan and cut slits in the meat three quarters to an inch deep
2. Push a piece of garlic, rosemary, and anchovy in each slit
3. Rub all over with olive oil and roast in a 450 degree oven for a half hour
4. Pour the white wine over the lamb, dial the oven back to 325 and let it chill out for another 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the size of the leg and how you like it cooked.