One of the “Smoked Entrée of Day” menu items on the Columns Hotel menu was the Smoked Leg of Lamb with Rosemary Sauce, which sold for $12.50 per plate. The meat smoker in the back was usually filling the neighborhood with mesquite, hickory, oak, or pecan smoke aroma on a typical day.
I recreated this dish at home and was part of our Christmas Day meal at the cabin.
Leg of lamb is typically sold with the bone in and weight around 5 to 7 pounds each, but before they can be prepared for service a bit of butchering must be completed to remove the bone(s). Once the bone is removed, the leg is stuffed with fresh rosemary leaves and then tied with butchers twine to hold it up in one piece.
Once tied up the lamb leg is marinated overnight in a simple red wine and water liquid and the next morning is set out to the smoker.
After the smoker is set up with a hot fire and some wet wood, the prepared and seasoned leg of lamb is placed on the smoker pit for six to eight hours for a cool smoke. Once the smoke is completed the leg of lamb can be refrigerated for up to 3 days before roasting, which is about 15 to 20 minutes per pound, or about 1 ½ hours in a pre-heated 350° F oven. The complete butchering tips and images are described below. For more details on how to smoke meat check out the Smoked Seafood Salad recipe, it has a primer on smoking foods.
Removing the Bone
The first step is to find the bone and start separating the muscle from the connective tissue to get to the bone. Then making cuts around the bone to remove any muscle and connected tissue. Once the bone is removed, the bone cap is cut out and the leg meat is now boneless.
|Lamb leg with bone exposed||Making first cuts with boning knife|
|Cutting away from the bone||Knife under bone, almost done|
|Final cuts removing bone||Removing bone cap|
Removing Fat and Silver Skin
Then the next step is to remove some of the fat and silver skin from leg using a boning knife.
|Cutting a thin layer of fat & silver skin||More leg muscle meat exposed|
Stuffing and Tying
Next is to add the rosemary leaves and seasonings, then to tie it up into a nice whole piece.
|Rosemary leaves added||Starting with the butchers twine|
|Continuing with tying the leg||Leg of lamb all tied up|
Once the leg is tied up it is now ready to marinate. The marinade consists of red wine, water, garlic, salt and white pepper. The total amount of marinade varies depending on the number of legs prepared, but for this one leg it was 1 ½ cups red wine, ½ cup water, a few cloves of garlic, and one teaspoon each of salt and white pepper. The ingredients are mixed and then added to a plastic bag with the lamb leg, and then it all sits in the refrigerator overnight.
Marinating the lamb leg in a zip-type bag.
Smoking the Meat
The next morning I stoked up the smoker, soaked the wood, and set the leg of lamb along with a turkey breast too. About seven hours later the perfectly smoked foods are ready to be refrigerated for later use, or roasted in the oven until done and ready for service time.
|Fresh marinated meats on the smoker||Seven hours later, ready to chill or roast|
The rosemary sauce served with the lamb made from a lamb stock reduction, red wine, garlic, shallots, and fresh rosemary leaves. The lamb stock reduction was made with the lamb bones, which were cut in half to expose the inside marrow for more flavor and then covered with cool water. A cut up onion, celery, and carrot were added to the stock and brought to a slow simmer, then allowed to continue simmering for 4 hours. The liquid is strained from the stock then allowed to reduce by half, and then the red wine, garlic and shallots are added with the fresh rosemary. Again, quantities vary depending on your taste and quantity of liquid. This is brought to a simmer for 30 minutes, then strained again, and thickened either with a dark roux or with Wondra flour slurry.
Cutting and Plating
Nice smoke ring around the lamb leg
Smoked Leg of Lamb with Rosemary Sauce