During this time of year, my culinary radar usually points towards lamb. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the whole leg, the tender saddle, smaller cuts such as the popular lamb rack, or a bit more rustic piece like the shank.

I like lamb because of its flavor, and because it lends itself to many different flavor options. Its rich and slightly musky flavor is a foundation for many culinary cultures around the world. For most cooks, it’s an easy animal to understand because of its relatively small stature and four-legged appearance.

It is suggested that sheep were first domesticated about 10 thousand years ago, in what is known as today’s modern Kurdistan. The practice of domesticating sheep quickly spread throughout the Mediterranean, to the Middle East, Asia and India.

Due to my northern European heritage, lamb always arrived in the kitchen around spring. It was usually roasted in my household and carved tableside.

In my kitchen, I like to use flavor and incorporate ingredients such as, parsley, spinach, Swiss chard, dill, rosemary, thyme, goat cheese and feta cheese, just to mention a few. The following is my favorite recipe for a stuffed and roasted leg of lamb with spinach and feta.

I suggest pairing your lamb with roasted root vegetables, mashed potatoes flavored with goat cheese, creamed spinach, and green beans.

And don’t forget, a great glass of Pinot Noir.

Stuffed and Roasted Leg of Lamb

INGREDIENTS

Spinach Stuffing

1 leg of lamb
2 lbs. fresh spinach
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
¼ cup    parsley, chopped
¼ cup    panko breadcrumbs
1 egg lightly beaten
¼ tbsp. dill, dried
¼ tbsp. oregano, chopped
Fresh cracked pepper
1 tbsp. salt
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
2 cloves garlic, minced

Mustard Seasoning Mixture

¼ cup whole grain mustard
Juice from 1 lemon
1 tbsp. of honey
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

When selecting a leg of lamb, ask your butcher to bone out about 10-11 pounds, either butterfly or cut around the thigh bone.

Sauté the oil, onion, and garlic for about 5 minutes at medium heat. Remove the pan from heat; add spinach and parsley and then stir until wilted. Add the remaining ingredients, season with salt and pepper to taste, and then set aside.

Prepare your leg of lamb by cracking at the joint and remove the bone, leaving the shank bone as a “handle.” Both will need to be tied once the filling has been placed.

For the mustard seasoning, mix the grain mustard, lemon juice, honey, and garlic cloves in a separate bowl. Salt and pepper to taste.

With your hand, massage 2/3 of the mustard mixture inside the lamb or on the meat side of the lamb leg. Place the filling on top or stuff the leg with the filling. With butcher twine, tie the lamb leg starting at the thicker end and then use slipknots to form an even “roll.” Rub the outside of the lamb with the remaining mustard mixture and set aside.

If butterflied, roll the leg around the stuffing into a “roulade“ and secure with slipknots as mentioned above.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the leg of lamb in a roasting pan, and roast for 30 minutes. Then adjust the oven temperature to 300 degrees for another 25 to 35 minutes. Make sure to turn the roast every 10 minutes. A meat thermometer should read 140 degrees, which would indicate a medium rare cooking temperature.

After the roast has cooked, remove it from the oven and let it sit for 30 minutes, turning it every 10 minutes. Then remove the butcher twine, slice into ¼ inch slices, and serve.

SERVING

I suggest pairing your lamb with roasted root vegetables, mashed potatoes flavored with goat cheese, creamed spinach, and green beans.

And don’t forget a great glass of Pinot Noir.

Jan Jorgensen is the chef and owner of TWO CHEFS Restaurant in Pinecrest, where he also maintains a cooking school.

For more information call 305.663.2100 or visit twochefsrestaurant.com.

Chef Jan Jorgensen