Oven Roasted Boneless Leg o’ Lamb with Pancetta and Fresh Mint

One of my favorite meals on the lunch menu of Dayton’s restaurant was a sandwich comprised of thinly sliced roast lamb, caramelized red onions and tangy goat cheese sandwiched between two slices of house-baked green olive bread… my mouth waters to this day just thinking about it!  This wonderful sandwich affirmed that lamb is more versatile than a meat traditionally prepared and served  during  the Easter holiday season.

Several weeks ago I was perusing the meat counter at a local market and came upon a beautiful boneless leg of lamb that was crying out to be taken home and showcased at our table.  Admittedly it was a bit on the expensive side but I justified the purchase on the number of meals that could be prepared with the leftovers, including a lamb sandwich or two on homemade olive bread, as well as an easy and delicious lamb hash.  The first meal from the 4-1/2 pound boneless leg was a spectacular Portuguese inspired oven roasted creation infused with the flavors of fresh garlic and mint, complemented with pancetta and smoked paprika.  The pan drippings gave rise to a flavorful, mouth-watering sauce that napped the tender slices of perfectly roasted meat… a delightful meal indeed!

Oven Roasted Boneless Leg o’ Lamb with Pancetta and Fresh Mint

Preheat the oven to 350°.  Cut into 1/2″ cubes and place into the bowl of a food processor:

  • 4 oz pancetta, excess fat trimmed

Untie and roll out flat, with the outside surface of the meat on top:

  • 1 – 4-1/2 to 5 lb boneless leg o’ lamb

With a sharp knife trim excess fat, then cut a series of 1/2″ – 3/4″ deep slits along the grain of the thickest muscles.  Turn the butterflied leg over and repeat the process on the thick inside muscle tissues.

To the pancetta in the food processor add:

  • 4 T minced fresh mint
  • 4 T minced Italian parsley
  • 6 whole garlic cloves, peeled and microplaned
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Pulse and process to form a smooth paste:

With your fingers distribute and press the mixture into the slits:

Re-roll and tie the leg, working and pressing the pancetta mixture into the slits as necessary, as well as into the open spaces on each end:

Place on a wire rack in a shallow roasting pan and roast until the internal temp reaches 135°,  approximately 1 – 1-1/2 hours.  Remove from the oven and transfer the lamb to a cutting board.  Tent with foil and allow to rest approximately 10 – 15 minutes.  During the resting period the internal temp will rise an additional 10 degrees.  In the meantime, prepare the sauce.

To the hot roasting pan add:

  • 1/4 C chicken or beef stock
  • splash of dry white wine

Deglaze the pan, loosening the brown bits clinging to the bottom of the roasting pan:

To a heavy 12-inch skillet or sauteuse over medium high heat add:

  • 1-1/2 T unsalted butter

When the butter has melted add:

  • 1 large shallot, minced

Sauté until the shallots become translucent:

Transfer the deglazed pan drippings to the sauteuse, stirring to combine.

Simmer for a minute or two to begin reduction.  Add:

  • 2 T minced Italian parsley

Stir to combine and reduce until thickened.  If necessary, season with:

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Turn off the heat and add to the pan:

  • 4 T unsalted butter

Swirl the pan over the burner to incorporate the butter, producing a glossy, rich sauce.  Thinly slice the lamb, adding any remaining juices from the cutting board to the sauce.


Arrange the slices on warmed serving plates.  Nap the lamb with the butter sauce and serve… Bon Appetit!

©2011 Via Aurea Designs, Inc., All Rights Reserved


Tags: , ,

Categories: Lamb

Author:Steve Meyer & Dayton Azevedo

Food and fine cooking have been our passion for many years, fueled by the year-around abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, poultry and meats, as well as aromatic spices and herbs readily available to us here in the San Francisco Bay Area, making adventuresome, creative and delicious 5-star cooking a reality in our kitchen. Our aim is to make it yours as well by utilizing our step by step instructions and serial photographs. Bon Appetit from our kitchen to yours...!


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