Fragrant lamb for a special Christmas dinner

By Jim Bailey

There aren’t many times when I can ‘meat’ out recipes with lamb as the central theme, but thank goodness, Christmas is one. I have repeatedly extolled my love of this meat and, during the holidays, I love to show people just how easy it is to prepare fragrant lamb.

If I have all day and want to use any leftover juices that have accumulated in the bottom of the pan for pastitsio, I prepare lamb shanks.

When it is grilling season and I have dozens of sides to choose from, I enjoy lamb chops. But when it comes to special occasions and I want to splurge and honor lamb with seasonal sides, I use leg of lamb.

Savory lamb for the holidays./Photo The Yankee Chef

Generally weighing about 5 pounds, you can also have any butcher at any supermarket butterfly (remove the bone) the lamb leg for you. This serves multiple purposes.

You can stuff it with your favorite mix or simply roll it up. After you have roasted it, just slice and eat.
Green beans are my favorite side to this meat, but with the holidays coming up, you should use seasonal vegetables and recipes.

Here is a great recipe using a butterflied leg of lamb that I think you will enjoy. Try aioli with the lamb. They pair exceptionally well.


Simple and Savory Leg of Lamb

1 leg of lamb, butterflied (4 ½ to 5 lbs.)
1 lemon
1 T. salt
1 T. minced garlic in oil
1 t. oregano
½ t. black pepper

The night before, grate the rind of the lemon; set aside. Squeeze the juice from the lemon over the entire lamb leg. In a separate bowl, combine the remainder of the ingredients, including lemon zest and sprinkle over the lamb, rubbing it in well. Roll the lamb up tightly, using butchers string if needed. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Place the lamb in a rack in a baking pan with at least 1-inch high sides, “seam” side down. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes for medium rare. If you want it medium, cook an additional 10 minutes or longer if desired.

When lamb is cooked, transfer to a dish, letting it rest for 5 minutes. Slice and arrange on plates with the rest of your holiday meal sides such as aioli.


2 t. minced garlic in oil
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. dijon mustard
1 T. lemon juice
1/3 c. olive oil
1/4 c. vegetable oil
3/4 c. mayonnaise

Stir garlic, salt, mustard, lemon juice and both oils to combine well. Place mayonnaise in a bowl and gradually add oil mixture, whisking constantly until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeThe Yankee Chef

About the Author: Jim Bailey is a third generation Yankee Chef, New England food historian and newspaper columnist. His first cookbook, simply titled The Yankee Chef, has been published. He welcomes all feedback, questions or comments at

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Comments are closed.