Print Options:

Rosemary Grilled Leg of Lamb

Serves 8 to 10

Total Time
2 hrs 45 mins

Marinate Time
1 day

Total Time
1 day 2 hrs 45 mins

Ben Ford, chef of Ford's Filling Station in Culver City, California, uses a generous hand with rosemary in this recipe to enhance the smoky flavor from the grill. He cooks the lamb on a wood-fired firepit-grill made by Cowboy Cauldron, but the recipe works beautifully with a charcoal or gas grill as well. It's adapted from his upcoming book with Carolynn Carreño, Taming the Feast: Ben Ford's Field Manual to Adventurous Cooking (Simon & Schuster, July 2014; $30).

su-Rosemary Grilled Leg of Lamb

Photo: Coral von Zumwalt
 1 cup olive oil
  Zest of 2 lemons
 1/2 cup lemon juice
 8 large garlic cloves, sliced
 4 teaspoons kosher salt
 1 tablespoon sweet Spanish paprika
 1 tablespoon ground coriander
 1 tablespoon ground cumin
 1 teaspoon cayenne
 1 cup chopped onion
 1 cup whole rosemary leaves, plus 12 sprigs (9 in. long); 4 oz. sprigs total
 1 bone-in leg of lamb (6 1/2 lbs.), with hip bone and upper leg bone removed*; or 1 fully boned leg of lamb (4 1/2 lbs.)
Step 1

Combine oil and all seasonings except for rosemary sprigs in a shallow pan. Add lamb and turn to coat inside and out. Cover and chill 24 hours, turning occasionally. Let lamb sit at room temperature 1 hour before grilling. Brush off excess marinade. Tie with kitchen twine to make a compact roast.

Step 2

Meanwhile, heat a grill to medium (350° to 400°) with burner turned off (for gas) or coals pushed to half of firegrate (for charcoal) to make an indirect heat area. Or light an indirect charcoal-and-wood fire in a Cowboy Cauldron (see "Cooking in a Cauldron," below).

Step 3

Grill lamb over direct heat, turning as needed, until browned all over, 10 minutes. Set lamb on a V-shaped rack in a roasting pan. Set pan over indirect-heat area (on Cauldron, lift rack and put pan down on firegrate, then replace rack--it helps retain heat). Top meat with rosemary sprigs. Stoke the fire (see "Cooking in a Cauldron"); for charcoal, as you cook, add 6 to 8 briquets every 30 minutes. Cover charcoal or gas grill.

Step 4

Roast lamb, rotating meat in pan every 20 to 30 minutes so each part is exposed to heat, until lamb reaches 140° in thickest part, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours; rosemary may fall off. Let lamb rest on a board 15 minutes. Remove twine and carve.

Step 5

Cooking in a Cauldron

Step 6

Part firepit, part cooking tool, the Cowboy Cauldron (made in Utah) works as a grill, rotisserie, and more. Getting the hang of it takes practice, though. Ford's method: Ignite charcoal in a chimney, dump out onto firegrate, then crisscross 4 split oak logs on top. When logs are ashy, spread over half the grate to create direct and indirect cooking areas. Sear meat over direct heat area, then set in a roasting pan next to the fire. Turn the meat and stoke the fire with 1 or 2 logs every hour or so. Urban Cowboy (shown, 30 in.): $1,300;

Step 7

*Ask a butcher to remove the hip and leg bones from the wide end but leave the shank bone, which is useful as a handle for turning.

Nutrition Facts

Servings Serves 8 to 10

Amount Per Serving
Calories 349Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 18g28%

Saturated Fat 5.1g26%
Cholesterol 136mg46%
Sodium 258mg11%
Total Carbohydrate 1.8g1%

Dietary Fiber 0.8g4%
Protein 44g88%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.