Stuffed Leg of Spring Lamb
- SERVINGS: 8-12
For carving tableside, leg of lamb looks best if the shank bone is left in. For the stuffing, use country-style white bread or an Italian loaf with a light crumb; otherwise your stuffing will be heavy. You can make the lamb broth called for below with the bones and trimmings from the leg. Or you can use dry white wine or an easy mushroom broth made by soaking a small handful of dried porcini mushrooms in 1 1/4 cups of hot water for about 30 minutes.
- 3 3/4 cups cubed day-old bread
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large shallot
- 2 ounces pancetta, finely diced
- 2 ounces mortadella, finely diced
- 8 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
- 1 cup lamb broth (see headnote)
- 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Freshly ground pepper
- One 4 1/2 - to 5-pound leg of spring lamb, butterflied, with the shank bone left in
- Kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 400°. Toss the bread with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Spread the bread on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until dry and brown.
- In a small skillet, warm the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the shallot, pancetta, mortadella and sage and stir over moderate heat until the shallot is soft, about 5 minutes.
- In a bowl, combine the toasted bread with the lamb broth and let stand for 5 minutes. Add the pancetta mixture along with the cheese and mix well. Season the stuffing liberally with pepper.
- Open the leg of lamb and season the meat with salt and pepper. Spread the stuffing over the meat and then re-form the leg, patting it into an even cylindrical shape. Tie the roast at 1-inch intervals and place in a small roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper.
- Roast the leg of lamb on the top shelf of the oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes, basting with the pan juices every 20 minutes. The meat is medium-rare when the internal temperature reaches 125°. Let the roast rest for about 10 minutes, then carve and serve with the pan juices. (If the pan is dry, deglaze it by stirring in approximately 1 cup of water and boiling until the juices are well reduced and flavorful.)
Spring lamb is fairly delicate in comparison with older lamb and calls for a certain elegance in the wine, whether it be white or red. Chef Paul Bertolli selected a mature Chianti Classico from Badia a Coltibuono made from 90 percent Sangiovese grapes for its refinement and sweet, cedary aromatics. An older French red Burgundy or California Pinot Noir would be another good marriage.