I am making Greek lamb for my 65th birthday. I decided on stuffed artichoke caps—as the hot vegetable—and a Greek salad as side dishes. The kids are still on their keto/Atkins diet, so I had rolls for the starch eaters. For dessert, Jan made another variation of my mother’s chocolate mousse.
Sometimes, I try to keep my recipes firmly in the traditional ingredients of whichever cuisine on which I am basing the dish. Other times, I like to toss in some non-traditional ingredients. Soy sauce isn’t Greek, but it will boost the umami flavors of the grilled lamb.
When I buy lamb from the Halāl butcher, I usually have him butterfly it—removing the bone and cutting the meat into a fairly flat piece. While I was buying some olives and pickles, he also started pounding the meat flat—something he had never done before. Instead of a slab of meat with some parts that were thicker than others, I had an evenly flattened steak—12 inches by 18 inches by 1 inch thick. How was I going to get the well done bits that my wife likes and the medium rare bits that my son-in-law prefers.
I decided that what I needed to do was to roll the meat up in some way. When I came to this conclusion, I had already had already marinated the meat in massive amounts of raw garlic. If I simply rolled the meat into a roast, this garlic would never get enough heat to lose its raw taste. I found myself with a dilemma.
I looked on-line for suggestions, but the only recipes I found were for slow roasting in an oven. There were none for the hot fast heat of a barbecue grill. My solutions was to sear one side of the lamb—giving the garlic on that side a good grilling. I then removed the meat from the barbecue and folded the lamb in half—with the seared side on inside. Three skewers to hold it together, I put it back on the barbecue to finish grilling the lamb.
Karl’s Birthday Greek Barbecued Lamb
1 tsp. Kosher salt, separate uses
1 Tbs. fresh rosemary, minced with the salt (see note)
1 Tbs. fresh thyme, minced with the salt (see note)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
8 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 tsp. honey
2 tsp. dried oregano, rubbed
2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. lemon zest
½ leg of lamb (about 3-4 lb. boned and butterflied)
3 bamboo skewers
1. The day before your dinner, strip the rosemary and thyme from their stems and pile them on a cutting pad.
Tip: If you are using fresh oregano, add it to the pile of herbs.
Note: This is a trick I just picked up from the latest Cook’s Illustrated (May/June 2017). The salt draws out the moisture and oils and turns the herbs into a paste. The tiny bits of leaves then no not slide or pop around as much and this allows you to mince them much more finely.
2. Put all the marinade ingredients into a small bowl and mix them well.
3. Spread half the marinade on the inside surface of the lamb.
Note: Keep the bone for Scotch broth.
4. Roll the meat up and place it into a gallon plastic bag.
5. Pour half of the remaining marinade over the meat and then rotate the meat in the bag.
6. Pour the rest of the marinade in and spread it around until all of the meat is completely coated.
7. Press all of the air out of the bag and seal it well.
8. Put the lamb in the refrigerator and marinate it over night.
Tip: Turn the bag over every 4 to 6 hours.
9. An hour before you barbecue, set the bag of lamb on the counter to come to room temperature.
10. Prepare your grill.
Note: For charcoal, start your coals about 20 minutes before starting to cook. When most of the coals are well lit, spread them out in an even layer. For a gas grill, preheat your grill on medium high for 10 minutes.
11. Sear one side of your lamb by laying it directly over the heat for 2-3 minutes.
Note: Close the grill, if using gas.
12. Remove the lamb from the grill and fold the meat in half with the seared side on the inside.
13. Push three skewers through the meat, so that the halves are held firmly in place.
14. Return the lamb the barbecue, directly over the heat, and grill it for 6 minutes.
Note: Close the grill, if using gas.
15. Flip the meat over and insert a constant read thermometer.
Note: Again, close the grill, if using gas.
16. Continue grilling the lamb, until it reaches an internal temperature of to 128-130º F
17. Remove the meat from the barbecue and tent your meat with aluminum foil.
18. Rest the meat for 10 minutes.
Tip: As it rests, the heat will redistribute through the meat to reach an internal temperature of 155° F for rare lamb.
19. Remove the skewers, slice the lamb across the grain, and place it on a serving platter.