Leave it to me to blog about the star of my family's Christmas dinner four weeks after the fact. But considering the fact that when I showed up at my mom's house two days before Christmas she didn't even have a tree, hence making my super extra last minute christmas eve shopping that didn't even get started till after 3pm due to a shortage of vehicles and competing interests, even more ridiculous than necessary, I guess you shouldn't be all that surprised. True story.
But really, it wouldn't really be a true "Nigerian Last name" family Christmas without a ridiculous amount of last minute scrambling, although this year we really out did ourselves. For the first time in our family history, we literally put up all the Christmas decorations, tree included, on December 24th. Additionally, my mother decided to instill a new tradition of each one of us bringing/cooking a new dish we've never made or shared with the family before. Hence this dabble into bread making for me, a pomegranate guacamole [not pictured, my bad] courtesy of my six years younger and six inch taller sister [really God? REALLY THOUGH? *tart face*] ridiculously delicious vegan collard greens [also not pictured, when, ever, will I learn that as a food blogger, I'm supposed to document all eatings at all times?] from big sister, and a turkey day repeat, by adamant request, of German Apple Cake from my mom [I think I tweeted this pic]. Hence, the reason for that hammer and nails on the kitchen table as I'm chopping herbs, in case you were wondering, is because my mom was in full decorating and/or fixing things mode while I was prepping the lamb, and everything had to be done in one night.
So let me get right to the business at hand--the lamb. I was inspired to make this dish by the one and only Pioneer Woman. Even though I've shamefully never seen her Food Network Show [In my defense, I haven't had cable since October, and Food Network isn't on Hulu Plus or Netflix] she's still my friend in my head. But then again, who isn't imaginary friends with P-Dub? Anyone who can make me want to visit a farm in Oklahoma has got to be pretty freakin' awesome.
While Rhee's recipe calls this a salt "crust", she references that it's not a true salt crust [which involves egg whites, several pounds of salt, and according to one Bon Appètit blogger, a gratuitous amount effort that doesn't yield much in terms of a memorable return] Formalities aside, I liked the concept, and probably for the first time in a long line of memory, I didn't have an under salted dish. In fact, if you got a slice with too much outer crust in proportion to inner meat , then it was in fact too salty. But when you got the perferct slice, it was just right I tell you. Studding the meat with the stripped rosemary stems was also a genius idea. I'll take credit for that idea thank you very much!
Anyhoo, this lamb was pretty awesome. It would have been awesomer, had I not overcooked it, but you know, $hit happens when you stay up till some unGodly hour on Christmas eve cooking and making dough and wrapping gifts, only to have to drag yourself to church at 9am [side eye] so that the service which was promised to be kept to 1 hour could be purposely dragged out an extra 30 minutes by someone with an opinion [side. effin'. eye.], come home continue to manipulate said dough, finally open your gifts, pass out on the couch, and remember to take the lamb out of the oven before it cooks 10 degrees past well done. For shame!
And such is the life of trying to document the cooking process while prepping a christmas dinner, I don't have any artfully plated photos of said awesome lamb. Not that I've ever had artfully plated photos. I'm really bad at that sort of stuff, if you hadn't noticed. But that's fodder for another day. Here's hoping it won't take me three weeks to get another post up.
Salt "Crusted" Leg of Lamb (Adapted from the Pioneer Woman)
Print this Recipe
1 Leg of lamb, 4-6 pounds
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 Cup coarse sea salt
5 Tablespoons black peppercorns, coarsely ground
6 Sprigs rosemary
1/2 Cup minced garlic
IMPORTANT: USE A MEAT THERMOMETER! COOKING TIMES MAY VARY WIDELY. [I forgot that my mom has a meat thermometer right up until the moment that I remembered she had one and that I overcooked the lamb by 10 degrees. I’m sorry, Lambchop!]
Place peppercorns into a plastic bag, and crush with a rolling pin [or crush in mortar and pestle]. Strip the leaves from the rosemary springs, and chop finely. Finely mince about 8 cloves of garlic (1/2 cup). Mix salt, crushed peppercorns, rosemary leaves, and garlic. Using a small, narrow knife, pierce several small, but deep pockets into flesh of the meat. Place stripped rosemary springs, into each of these pockets.
Pour olive oil over the lamb and rub mixture all over meat, making sure to rub into crevices around the bone and pockets with rosemary springs. Cover meat securely with foil, and refrigerate at least 6 hours, overnight preferably. Remove lamb from refrigerator, allow it sit at room temperature for about an hour; preheat oven to 325°F. [set it and forget it! Actually don’t forget it like I did]
Roast lamb for about 2 1/2 hours, then reduce heat to 300°F and roast for another 20 to 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 145 for medium/medium well (lamb will continue to cook slightly after removing from the oven.)
Remove from oven and let rest at least 20 minutes before slicing.
*seriously, use a meat thermometer*