Rotisserie Boneless Leg of Lamb Roast with Greek Brinerade

There's a debate in the food science community over the usefulness of marinades.  They're very traditional, but all the evidence points towards two things:
1. They don't penetrate into the meat AT ALL. The flavor they give is stuck on the surface.
2. If they're too acidic, they turn the surface of the meat to mush

My twin heroes of food science,  Cook's Illustrated and Alton Brown have both recently weighed in on the topic.  If you can catch Alton's recent episode, "Tender is the Pork",  you can see his take on it.*
*He illustrates the debate in the food community by having a couple of guys in lab coats slap fighting.  Yes, it's juvenile.  I laughed, and laughed, and laughed...

Cooks Illustrated is referring to it as "Don't Marinate - Brinerate" (subscription required).  They up the amount of salt in the marinade, causing it to work as a brine, which does draw flavors into the meat.  They also keep their marinating times short, and limit the amount of acid in the mix, so the surface of the meat doesn't get cooked by the acid.  This gives you the best of both worlds - the flavors that a marinade can carry, combined with the juiciness of a brine.

Also, the best time for a Marinade to be working is just after the food has been removed from the heat, so you always want to put some of the marinade aside for a last minute basting

Recipe: Rotisserie Boneless Leg of Lamb Roast with Greek Brinerade

Cook time: 45 minutes

Equipment:
  • Grill with Rotisserie attachment (I used a Weber kettle with the Rotisserie attachment; kettle is here and rotisserie attachment is here)
  • Aluminum foil drip pan (9"x11", or whatever fits your grill)
  • Butcher's twine for trussing the roasts

Ingredients:
  • 2 - 2.5 lb Boneless lamb leg roasts ("half" roasts, butt end if you can specify.)
Greek Brinerate ingredients
  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano (or 2 tbsp fresh oregano, minced)
  • 1 tbsp fresh Lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon)
  • Zest from 1/2 lemon
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1 tsp honey (or sugar)
  • 1 tbsp salt

Boneless lamb leg roasts, opened up and trimmed of fat
Directions:
1. Brinerate the lamb: One to one and a half hours before cooking, open the roasts up, and trim any excess fat from them.  Put them in a gallon ziploc bag (or two, if they're large).  Whisk the ingredients for the brinerade together until well mixed, then reserve 1/4 cup for later and pour the rest into the bag with the lamb.  Squeeze out any excess air, then zip the bag closed, and massage it to get both roasts covered with the brinerade.  Let rest in the refrigerator, turning occasionally to evenly brinerate,  until ready to cook.
*Note: Due to the acid in the lemon juice, you don't want to brinerate more than an hour and a half.


2. Prepare the grill: Prepare your rotisserie for cooking on indirect high heat (see details here). For my Weber kettle, I light a chimney starter* full of charcoal, wait for it to be covered with ash, then pour it in two equal piles on the sides of the grill, and put the drip pan in the middle, between the piles.
*I highly recommend the Weber Chimney Starter, because it is larger than most chimney starters. It holds 5 quarts of charcoal, which exactly the right size for cooking this recipe.

Charcoal and improvised drip pan ready to go

3. Truss and spit the lamb: Meanwhile, while the charcoal is lighting, take the lamb out of the refrigerator and roll the two roasts into cylinder shapes.  Truss tightly every 1 to 1.5" with the butcher's twine.  Once trussed, pat the roasts dry with paper towels - they'll brown better the drier they are.  Then, skewer them on your rotisserie spit, leaving about 0.5" clearance between them.

4. Cook the lamb: Put the spit on the grill, and start the rotisserie. Cook with the lid closed, until the lamb is 130*F in the thickest part for medium, 125*F for medium-rare, and 120*F for rare. (Unlike beef, I prefer my lamb cooked to medium). This should take 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of the lamb leg and the heat of your grill; assume roughly 15 minutes per pound of the largest roast (in my case, it did take about 45 minutes.). Start checking the lamb's temperature at 30 minutes, and watch out for the bone and the spit - they can throw the reading off.



5. Baste and rest the lamb: Just before removing the lamb from the rotisserie, baste it with the reserved brinerade.  Remove the spit from the rotisserie, and remove the lamb roasts from the spit onto a platter.  Baste them with the brinerade again, then let sit for 10-15 minutes before carving.

6. Carve and serve: Remove the butcher's twine, then cut the lamb into 1/4" to 1/2" thick slices, and serve.



Variations:
*Provencal Brinerade: Substitute Herbes de Provence instead of oregano, and add 1 tsp Dijon mustard to the brinerade.

Notes:
*Serve this with a greek salad, some Roasted Red Pepper Dip, pita bread, and some tapenade.  Or, serve it as Gyros - slice thin (1/4" or less), and serve it with tzatziki sauce, pita bread, and some shredded lettuce and thin-sliced red onion.

*Ideally, you would cook this with one whole lamb leg that has been deboned.  I used the two half legs because that's what my grocery store sells.

Questions? Comments?  Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Related Posts:
Click here for my rotisserie bone in leg of lamb recipe, Moroccan style.
Click here for my Rotisserie Leg of Lamb Provencal
Click here for my other rotisserie recipes.

Inspired by:
Want some authentic Greek cooking, with photography that shows you exactly how humble my efforts are?  Check out Kalofagas and his rotisserie bone in leg of lamb.  [Kalofagas.ca]

Cook's Illustrated Magazine, June 2009, "How to Cook: Brinerating" article [Subscription Required]



Check out my cookbook, Rotisserie Grilling.

Everything you could ask about the rotisserie,
plus 50 (mostly) new recipes to get you cooking.

It's a Kindle e-book, so you can download it and start reading immediately!


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19 comments:

Anonymous said...

We were testing out our bbq rotisserie for the first time today and used your brinerade recipe for a shoulder of lamb. Result? Excellent, better than we could have hoped for. Will be definitely be using it again.

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

@Anonymous:

Wonderful! I'm glad you liked it.

Anonymous said...

Just made this for dinner as a dry run - my husband couldn't get enough and now I think I might be cured of my irrational fear of roasting large cuts of meat. It came out juicy, extreamly well seasoned and very tasty. I stuck to your recipe for the brinerate but increased the amount of garlic, added fresh rosemary and thyme and also half a cup of red wine and omitted the lemon juice so that the brine could be left on longer for the flavors to really take. Came out fantastic, and I can't wait to make it for our dinner party next week.

Thanks again for your post!

MikeV @ DadCooksDinner said...

@anonymous: You're welcome!

Jordi said...

Hey Mike

I think this dude stole your picture ! http://thehousingforum.com/how-to-cook-greek-leg-of-lamb/

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

You're right, he did.

Kingsley Mok said...

I've tried this recipe and it is good.

Thought I add in my variation:

I've used 8 cloves of garlic and pressed it (gives more garlic flavor)

I've stabbed the lamb meat with a fork all around the meat then brined it.

I've opened up the meat from the ends, then poured some of the brine into the middle of the meat and tied it back up, then spit it (stake it, not literally spit at it).  This makes the meat juicy and flavorful.

I did not bother to baste it because as it was turning, it keeps dripping away.

Cooked it in a Convection Oven at 350 F for 50 minutes....result was a nice medium rare.  Not too rare and not too well done.  Just juicy and yummy...and oh the flavor is just amazing!

Jim Nason said...

This was great made as written. I did it on a rotisserie on my Weber E320 grill. With one 3.1 lb roast took about 55 minutes at 400 degrees. I really liked the use of oregano. I used fresh. Rosemary and lamb is getting so common and it's usually way over seasoned.

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

Thank you for the feedback. I'm glad you liked it!

Susan Tetley Scott said...

We made this last night for our family Easter gathering. We cooked it on our gas grill with the rotisserie attachment. We had a five pound boneless leg of lamb which cooked in about an hour. It was absolutely delicious. No leftovers at all!! Thanks for posting this recipe. It's a keeper at our house.

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

You're welcome! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

I would refer you to my bone in leg of lamb recipe http://www.dadcooksdinner.com/2012/04/rotisserie-whole-leg-of-lamb-with.html, but a four pound leg of lamb is kind of small. You can use the same instructions, just expect it to take about an hour, plus or minus 15 minutes either way. (The best way to tell if it is done is with an instant read thermometer...)

Kevin Morriss said...

I'm going to give this a run tomorrow. I picked a up a beautiful (but small, 4.25#) bone in leg. Are there any special considerations if I try this with the bone in?

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

Thank you for sharing the variation!

Patrick Browne said...

Thanks for all the great recipes, I'm excited to be voting for your Sous Vide contest entry or entries.
@Dad Cooks Dinner: *Ideally, you would cook this with one whole lamb leg that has been deboned..."
I did have a question about how the brinerade works for a whole boneless leg of lamb, we wouldn't want to cut it up to fit in a gallon ziploc bag (I don't think)-I'm wondering if there is there an alternative to the bag, to accommodate the larger size?
Thanks Again.

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

Yes - get a large baking dish (9x13 or so), make at least a double batch of the marinade, and pour it over.
(Or, look for XL ziploc bags - they're huge, you can fit the whole leg in there easily.)

Patrick Browne said...

Thank You, Mike!

Luke said...

I love this recipe! To add a little something extra, I like to roll up a cup of feta, a few sprigs of rosemary, and lemon zest inside the roast. People are nuts for it.

Mike V @ DadCooksDinner said...

Luke, great idea. I do something similar in my cookbook.

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