It’s Father’s Day and I get to make what I like. This means barbecued lamb. Like for my birthday, I decided I would go Moroccan.
On my birthday I used a Ras el Hanout (top of the shop) from Whole Spice. Today, I am blending my own. Ras el Hanout is a complex blend of spices that can be used in a variety of dishes to make them “Moroccan.” This blend is not a set list of spices, so today I am making a blend that is a bit simpler.
When you buy a leg of lamb from a butcher you have three choices. You can ask for a shank half—the lower half—the top half, or the whole leg of lamb. Which you choose depend on your planned number of diners. A bottom half will feed 5-6, the top half feeds 7-10, and a whole leg will feed a crowd.
Tip: When making your choice do not forget to allow for leftovers—mmmm, lamb sandwiches!
To go with my lamb, my Moroccan feast will have: a vegetable tajine, garlic couscous, and zucchini. Jan, of course, made one of her variations on my mother’s chocolate mousse.
Karl’s Moroccan Ras el Hanout Barbecued Lamb
Half a leg of lamb
2 Tbs. olive oil
3 Tbs. Karl’s Moroccan Spice Mix II
6 cloves garlic, mashed to a paste
1 Tbs. sumac, powdered
1. Bone and butterfly the half of a leg of lamb. Trim off any excess fat.
2. Mix the oil, garlic and spice mix into a paste.
Note: Double the marinating ingredients to make a whole leg of lamb.
3. Spread the marinade over the meat and place it in a plastic bag. refrigerate at least four hours—preferably overnight.
4. An hour before you plan to cook the meat, set it on the counter to come to room temperature.
Tip: Lamb at room temperature cooks more evenly than cold meat right out of the refrigerator.
5. Build a bi-level fire in the barbecue and place an empty aluminum pan on the cool side.
Tip: The pan directs the heat of the coals toward the back of the grill and reduces the heat of the “cool” side of the grill by about five degrees. This gives you a gentler and longer bake as you are finishing the lamb. This slows the cooking and is more forgiving time wise and produces a much more juicy and tender roast.
6. Lay the lamb on the hot side of the grill, put the lid down, and broil for 8-10 minutes.
Tip: Close all of the vents, so that the dripping fat does not cause flare-ups that will burn the surface of your meat.
Note: This sears the meat, locking in the juices and gives you a good char. The thickness of your roast determines how long you should sear the meat. You are not trying to cook the meat through, you just want to just to seal the outside surface and give it some color.
7. Turn the meat over and broil, covered, for 5-6 minutes.
8. Move the meat to the “cool” side of the grill and insert a constant read thermometer into the thickest part of the meat.
9. Close the lid and open the vents. Bake the lamb until the thermometer reads 143º F.
Tip: This temperature produces a perfect “touch of pink” medium rare roast.
10. Transfer the lamb to a serving platter and tent with foil. Let the meat rest for ten minutes.
11. Slice the lamb across the grain and serve with sumac on the side for the diners to sprinkle on their meat.
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