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Do you brine your leg of lamb? And should I remove the bone?

Do you brine your leg of lamb? And should I remove the bone?
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  • Do you brine your leg of lamb? And should I remove the bone?

    Post #1 - December 25th, 2008, 11:15 am
    Post #1 - December 25th, 2008, 11:15 am Post #1 - December 25th, 2008, 11:15 am
    All -

    Merry Christmas!

    We are cooking a leg of lamb for tonight's dinner, and it currently is bone-in. Should I remove the bone or does it add a lot more flavor?

    Also, I am reading a cooks illustrated recipe and they say to brine the lamb for two hours, what do you all think of that?

    J.R.
  • Post #2 - December 25th, 2008, 11:24 am
    Post #2 - December 25th, 2008, 11:24 am Post #2 - December 25th, 2008, 11:24 am
    I'm not the one to ask about brining - I'm generally not a fan because of the time and refrigerator space commitment and thus have no experience. I usually flavor red meat by stabbing it all over with a thin knife and sticking seasonings (slivered garlic cloves, herbs, salt) in the holes.

    However, I always do my LOL bone-in; I think it adds a lot of flavor. I suppose, if you're concerned about carving afterwards, you could de-bone it and then tie it back on the bone the way they do for beef rib roasts and have the best of both worlds.
  • Post #3 - December 25th, 2008, 11:26 am
    Post #3 - December 25th, 2008, 11:26 am Post #3 - December 25th, 2008, 11:26 am
    The Cooks recipe has you debone and butterfly then you put the rosemary thyme paste all over the inside then roll it back up.

    I think it might be a partial flavor thing.
  • Post #4 - December 25th, 2008, 11:30 am
    Post #4 - December 25th, 2008, 11:30 am Post #4 - December 25th, 2008, 11:30 am
    I've never done that with lamb, but have successfully with a pork roast; I don't see why it wouldn't work here. The flavors of rosemary and thyme will work well, too. You kind of need the space where the bone was to help with your filling - so if you're going that route, I wouldn't bother with the bone - in general, I do like to use bones whenever possible.
  • Post #5 - December 25th, 2008, 11:39 am
    Post #5 - December 25th, 2008, 11:39 am Post #5 - December 25th, 2008, 11:39 am
    Mhays -

    So you are a firm believer in leaving the bone in?

    Any thoughts on the brining? Cooks is the only recipe I have that suggests brining leg of lamb.

    J.R.
  • Post #6 - December 25th, 2008, 11:41 am
    Post #6 - December 25th, 2008, 11:41 am Post #6 - December 25th, 2008, 11:41 am
    Leave the bone in unless you want to stuff it.

    I wouldn't brine it so much as let it hang out in a rosemary-garlic-oliveoil-S&P rub all day. You can also cut little slits in it and fill the slits with slivers of garlic and little bits of anchovy (a tip of the hat to G Wiv for the anchovy tip).

    I always think of brining for ultra-lean meats. Not that a brine would hurt, but I've never done it and I've always had good results.

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #7 - December 25th, 2008, 12:09 pm
    Post #7 - December 25th, 2008, 12:09 pm Post #7 - December 25th, 2008, 12:09 pm
    HI,

    I tend to follow Julia Child's recommendations of slivers of garlic inserted everywhere. A rub with soy sauce followed by olive oil, then roast until rare to medium rare.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #8 - December 25th, 2008, 12:18 pm
    Post #8 - December 25th, 2008, 12:18 pm Post #8 - December 25th, 2008, 12:18 pm
    Like I say, I've stuffed meats before, but usually leaner ones than lamb. I think the direction you're getting here is to leave the bone and do the stabby-thing. It has the additional advantage of getting out all that holiday hostility.
    If it were me, yes, I'd leave the bone (but then my husband does all the carving.) You can still use the herb mixture you'd planned for if you don't butterfly - though garlic and anchovies sounds good, eatchicago.
    The two methods are not all that far off - you're making several very big openings that you're stuffing with flavoring if you're butterflying vs. many small stuffed openings.
  • Post #9 - December 25th, 2008, 12:23 pm
    Post #9 - December 25th, 2008, 12:23 pm Post #9 - December 25th, 2008, 12:23 pm
    there is no point in brining a leg of lamb, and it might actually change the texture toward unpleasant. The bone does add flavor, but there is a tradeoff. It 'aint easy to carve beautiful pieces out of a bone-in leg, once it's cooked. If plating is paramount, you might consider deboning. Otherwise, leave it in.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #10 - December 25th, 2008, 12:34 pm
    Post #10 - December 25th, 2008, 12:34 pm Post #10 - December 25th, 2008, 12:34 pm
    I often do LOL, and never leave the bone in, and never brine.
    I always have the butcher remove the bone, and roll and tie or net.
    then I do the stabby thing with garlic and rosemary and rub the whole thing with olive oil and sprinkle with a nice mix of salt, pepper, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and a smidge of chipotle.
    roast till med-med rare -
    Turns our mah-velous every time.

    In the summer sometimes I butterfly, marinate and grill.

    Good luck with whatever you try
    "If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home."
    ~James Michener
  • Post #11 - December 25th, 2008, 2:43 pm
    Post #11 - December 25th, 2008, 2:43 pm Post #11 - December 25th, 2008, 2:43 pm
    J - be sure to post back and let us know how it went!
  • Post #12 - December 25th, 2008, 3:33 pm
    Post #12 - December 25th, 2008, 3:33 pm Post #12 - December 25th, 2008, 3:33 pm
    Just took my leg of lamb out of oven. Bone in, no brine, and what I sampled tastes great. I let it marinate all night in a little vinegar, garlic, coriander, salt and pepper, and an arabic spice mix. This is usually how I do it and it turns out great. Good luck.
    "By the fig, the olive..." Surat Al-Teen, Mecca 95:1"
  • Post #13 - December 26th, 2008, 8:48 am
    Post #13 - December 26th, 2008, 8:48 am Post #13 - December 26th, 2008, 8:48 am
    never brined..i usually rub with good Greek olive oil then season with the basics..salt, pepper, oregano , and garlic
    First Place BBQ Sauce - 2010 NBBQA ( Natl BBQ Assoc) Awards of Excellence
  • Post #14 - December 26th, 2008, 9:34 am
    Post #14 - December 26th, 2008, 9:34 am Post #14 - December 26th, 2008, 9:34 am
    Morning everyone!

    Hope you all are full and Merry!

    So the bone-in lamb turned out great, no complaints around the table. We were questioning what cut we had as it did not look like a straight leg (perhaps a shank end?). Unfortunately, I am unable to tell what part now that we threw everything away. With that aside I thought the meat was good, not mouthwatering great though (I find I am always nitpicking the food I make).

    We used a paste of rosemary, thyme, mint, salt, pepper, olive oil, and garlic. Rubbed that all over the outside and then scored some of the inside parts I could get to and then rubbed the paste in there. Let marinate for about 3-4 hours. Also, to note, I didn't salt till right before cooking, and I salted a decent amount, but it seemed somewhat salty.

    I read up a bit more on the brining and Cooks seems to think that it does wonders for Lamb.

    Overall a success and great tasting lamb. Maybe not transcendental....

    The mushroom duxelles in a puff pastry on the other hand were outstanding.
  • Post #15 - December 26th, 2008, 9:38 am
    Post #15 - December 26th, 2008, 9:38 am Post #15 - December 26th, 2008, 9:38 am
    Try adding some pineapple juice to a lamb marinade. It tenderizes the meat and adds a great flavor.
  • Post #16 - December 26th, 2008, 9:46 am
    Post #16 - December 26th, 2008, 9:46 am Post #16 - December 26th, 2008, 9:46 am
    jpeac2 wrote:I read up a bit more on the brining and Cooks seems to think that it does wonders for Lamb.


    Can't say I have ever tried it, but I still have my doubts. I have tried brined beef and it's awful. Just turns to mush. Lamb is similar enough in structure to beef, that I'd have those same worries. Plus, the texture of lamb is darn-near perfect as is, and it is a very forgiving meat when it comes to slight overckooking, so I don't see what brining could do to improve it. Unless you don't like the gaminess, in which case a brine could probably remove some of that element.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #17 - December 26th, 2008, 12:10 pm
    Post #17 - December 26th, 2008, 12:10 pm Post #17 - December 26th, 2008, 12:10 pm
    Glad things worked out, jpeace! Sounds like a lovely meal, congratulations! The LOL I get usually have that odd-shaped bone in them as well, thought I couldn't tell you anything more about it.

    I think there's a bit of learning curve with leg of lamb, and holiday dinners in general - I'm just starting to hit my groove.
  • Post #18 - December 28th, 2008, 7:41 am
    Post #18 - December 28th, 2008, 7:41 am Post #18 - December 28th, 2008, 7:41 am
    jpeac2 wrote:Should I remove the bone or does it add a lot more flavor?

    JR,

    I tend to leave the bone in employing the method EatChicago references upthread, studding bone in leg of lamb with garlic, anchovy and often sprigs of rosemary. Typical method of cookery is hot smoke roast either on the WSM or charcoal Weber Grill.

    There is a popular technique amongst BBQ guys where you brine boneless leg of lamb in buttermilk and either hot smoke roast or grill. The buttermilk gives the meat a bit of tang and has a slight tenderizing effect. I've done the buttermilk brine a few times, I like the overall effect, but it tends to mask lamb flavor. I have not tried, but imagine the buttermilk brine would work well, with mutton.

    Speaking of roasting boned leg of lamb in the oven, I was watching Secrets of a Restaurant Chef with Anne Burrell and after boning out the leg of lamb she used the bones as a roasting rack, along with veg. I thought this a good idea.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #19 - December 29th, 2008, 2:23 am
    Post #19 - December 29th, 2008, 2:23 am Post #19 - December 29th, 2008, 2:23 am
    I'm a bit late here, but wanted to add my experience brining the lamb and following the CI recipe.

    Hands down, it was the best lamb I've ever had. I was a tester for the CI recipe quite a while back. I followed the recipe to the "T" since they want your comments regarding timing, etc. It was a bit more work than I expected.

    My MIL was over for dinner that night and she's not a big lamb fan. She ate and ate and ate, lol, and took some home. She's also a well done person and didn't bat an eye at what I served.

    I've only made it once since and had similar success. The next time you have a leg of lamb, do consider trying the CI recipe.
  • Post #20 - December 30th, 2008, 10:17 pm
    Post #20 - December 30th, 2008, 10:17 pm Post #20 - December 30th, 2008, 10:17 pm
    I had been reading this thread just before I went to the store yesterday, so when I saw that the Manager's Special at Garden Fresh was bone-in leg of lamb, I was so primed for leg of lamb that I didn't even have to think about it. This morning, I rubbed it with olive oil, a dash of wine vinegar, lots of crushed garlic, rosemary, and a bit of cumin, and let it sit in a zip-lock bag in the fridge for the afternoon. This evening, I roasted it to medium rare (bone still in), and I must say it made for an exceptionally pleasant dinner (and will be feeding me for several more days). The meat was not only flavorful, but incredibly tender.

    But now a post has been added about using pineapple juice. I wonder how long lamb will be on sale?
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #21 - December 30th, 2008, 10:34 pm
    Post #21 - December 30th, 2008, 10:34 pm Post #21 - December 30th, 2008, 10:34 pm
    I guess I mentioned the pineapple juice. The marinade I use also includes honey and vinegar, plus garlic, seasonings, and oil. It was originally for lamb kabobs, but I've used it on roast as well.

    Joe Caputo's had lamb on sale before Christmas. I almost picked up a hunk.
  • Post #22 - January 1st, 2009, 12:28 am
    Post #22 - January 1st, 2009, 12:28 am Post #22 - January 1st, 2009, 12:28 am
    I forget to mention before, another advantage to leaving the bone at is roasted bone marrow. I only had enough for one slice of bread, but it was a bonus I had not anticipated. Don't think there's much question of my leaving the bone in when next I roast a leg of lamb.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #23 - January 1st, 2009, 10:14 am
    Post #23 - January 1st, 2009, 10:14 am Post #23 - January 1st, 2009, 10:14 am
    Hi,

    In Julia Child's Kitchen cookbook, she uses the bone for making 'Scotch Broth' with barley.

    No point in wasting a perfectly good soup bone.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #24 - April 3rd, 2009, 11:24 am
    Post #24 - April 3rd, 2009, 11:24 am Post #24 - April 3rd, 2009, 11:24 am
    Making Leg of Lamb for Easter, and wanted to get some more tips.

    Sounds like bone-in was the concensus. They just talked me into a boneless lol at Schmeisser's, and they promised to give me the bones to roast under the lamb. Is that reasonable, or should I switch to bone in?

    It also sounds like those who tried brining the lamb did like it. Anyone try it and not like it?

    And my most urgent inquiry: Lately CI and other sources have suggested that for large pieces of meat, it may be better to start in a low (250 degree) oven, and cook slowly to near-done, then brown the outside (in a skillet or some other way). The theory is that a low oven brings the meat to temperature more evenly, eliminating the gray band on the outside edge, caused by the outermost parts overcooking before the inside is done. Another benefit is that there is some enzymatic "sweet spot" temperature zone in which meat becomes more tender. As it approaches rare, the enzymes quit working to tenderize. The longer the meat remains in that temperature zone the more tender it becomes. (Not neccessarily talking about low-and-slow higher temperature collagin melting here, but some other process.) Finally, the low oven dries the exterior and brings it closer to browning temperature so that browning occurs quicker, eliminating deeper overcooking. So the questions are . . has anyone tried this with leg of lamb? About how long would it take to get the leg up to 120 degrees? I was thinking of getting it up to about 115 in the oven, then browning it on the grill, or under the broiler.
    Today I caught that fish again, that lovely silver prince of fishes,
    And once again he offered me, if I would only set him free—
    Any one of a number of wonderful wishes... He was delicious! - Shel Silverstein
  • Post #25 - April 3rd, 2009, 2:05 pm
    Post #25 - April 3rd, 2009, 2:05 pm Post #25 - April 3rd, 2009, 2:05 pm
    MelT wrote: So the questions are . . has anyone tried this with leg of lamb? About how long would it take to get the leg up to 120 degrees? I was thinking of getting it up to about 115 in the oven, then browning it on the grill, or under the broiler.


    I have not tried this with a leg of lamb, but I did cook a prime rib roast that way with very good results. Here's an entire thread dedicated to the CI slow cook - then sear method.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #26 - April 4th, 2009, 2:44 am
    Post #26 - April 4th, 2009, 2:44 am Post #26 - April 4th, 2009, 2:44 am
    MelT wrote:Making Leg of Lamb for Easter, and wanted to get some more tips.

    Sounds like bone-in was the concensus. They just talked me into a boneless lol at Schmeisser's, and they promised to give me the bones to roast under the lamb. Is that reasonable, or should I switch to bone in?

    It also sounds like those who tried brining the lamb did like it. Anyone try it and not like it?



    MelT, I LOVED the boneless lamb using the March 2006 CI recipe for garlic roasted leg of lamb. Brining it is brilliant in my experience. I've done it several times and it's delectable; I think I noted upthread that my mother in law was wowed by it, and she's not often wowed by things like this. I made the au jus recipe to go with it. Also delicious.

    I might do a bone in again sometime because it's a bit of work to do it this way (taking out all the silverskin and gristle is a bit of work - allow some time to get it done unless you're experienced working with meat in that way), but truly the results are spectacular. In fact, maybe I'll make it again very soon since lamb is mostly likely both available right now, but maybe even on sale!
  • Post #27 - April 4th, 2009, 2:00 pm
    Post #27 - April 4th, 2009, 2:00 pm Post #27 - April 4th, 2009, 2:00 pm
    MelT wrote:Making Leg of Lamb for Easter, and wanted to get some more tips.

    Sounds like bone-in was the concensus. They just talked me into a boneless lol at Schmeisser's, and they promised to give me the bones to roast under the lamb. Is that reasonable, or should I switch to bone in?

    It also sounds like those who tried brining the lamb did like it. Anyone try it and not like it?

    And my most urgent inquiry: Lately CI and other sources have suggested that for large pieces of meat, it may be better to start in a low (250 degree) oven, and cook slowly to near-done, then brown the outside (in a skillet or some other way). The theory is that a low oven brings the meat to temperature more evenly, eliminating the gray band on the outside edge, caused by the outermost parts overcooking before the inside is done. Another benefit is that there is some enzymatic "sweet spot" temperature zone in which meat becomes more tender. As it approaches rare, the enzymes quit working to tenderize. The longer the meat remains in that temperature zone the more tender it becomes. (Not neccessarily talking about low-and-slow higher temperature collagin melting here, but some other process.) Finally, the low oven dries the exterior and brings it closer to browning temperature so that browning occurs quicker, eliminating deeper overcooking. So the questions are . . has anyone tried this with leg of lamb? About how long would it take to get the leg up to 120 degrees? I was thinking of getting it up to about 115 in the oven, then browning it on the grill, or under the broiler.


    Don't know who CI is but I always wonder why individuals come up with half baked (pun intended) ways to do something perfectly simple that individuals have been doing sucessfully for many many years.
    Brining a leg of lamb is ruining a perfectly good roast. My go to methods are Pepin's an he will just season a whole leg and brown at 450F and then 350F unitl you reach about 130F or so and then let the whole leg rest for 30-60 minutes to achieve a nice pink rare.
    Jacques also has a recipe whereby a boned and butterflyed leg of lamb is first marinated in soy, honey, a little cayyene powder and some other spices. The whole thing is then quickly seared and roasted on both sides on a charcoal grill and then left to rest for at least 30 minutes. Some of the tastyest lamb I have ever eaten. This is the only time I do anyting half equivalent to brining with lamb otherwise I just enjoy the natural flavor of the lamb.-Dick
  • Post #28 - April 4th, 2009, 3:43 pm
    Post #28 - April 4th, 2009, 3:43 pm Post #28 - April 4th, 2009, 3:43 pm
    budrichard wrote:Jacques also has a recipe whereby a boned and butterflyed leg of lamb is first marinated in soy, honey, a little cayyene powder and some other spices. The whole thing is then quickly seared and roasted on both sides on a charcoal grill and then left to rest for at least 30 minutes. Some of the tastyest lamb I have ever eaten. This is the only time I do anyting half equivalent to brining with lamb otherwise I just enjoy the natural flavor of the lamb.-Dick


    So... you "marinate" the lamb in a liquid full of salt and sugar and spices, and it produces delicious lamb, but you don't think brining makes sense? A water/salt/sugar/spice marinade is just a brine by another name..

    And CI is Cooks Illustrated. I've never tried the brine, but based on your experience with Pepin's brine and the reports above, I'm eager to try it.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #29 - April 4th, 2009, 7:21 pm
    Post #29 - April 4th, 2009, 7:21 pm Post #29 - April 4th, 2009, 7:21 pm
    I have not tried this with a leg of lamb, but I did cook a prime rib roast that way with very good results. Here's an entire thread dedicated to the CI slow cook - then sear method.


    Thanks, Stevez. i just have a few questions. About how long did it take to cook your roast this way? What size roast was it? How did you sear it? And what temp did you bring it to before searing?
    Today I caught that fish again, that lovely silver prince of fishes,
    And once again he offered me, if I would only set him free—
    Any one of a number of wonderful wishes... He was delicious! - Shel Silverstein
  • Post #30 - April 5th, 2009, 6:13 am
    Post #30 - April 5th, 2009, 6:13 am Post #30 - April 5th, 2009, 6:13 am
    MelT wrote:Thanks, Stevez. i just have a few questions. About how long did it take to cook your roast this way? What size roast was it? How did you sear it? And what temp did you bring it to before searing?


    It took nearly 8 hours to bring the full 7 bone prime rib roast to temp. Patience is required. I think the original roast weighed somewhere in the 18 lb range. I cooked the roast to 130 degrees, then pulled it and set my convection oven to 450. Once the oven came up to temp, I put the roast back in the oven for 8 - 10 minutes to let it brown. This was a very successful method to cook a beef roast. I've never tried it with lamb, though. I'd suggest rubbing the lamb with a little oil before browning.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven

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