Andrew Zimmern dresses simple roast leg of lamb with a tangy, bright side of pickled cherries.
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup water
One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 jalapeño, thinly sliced crosswise
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 small cinnamon stick
1 star anise pod
1 bay leaf
1 pound Bing cherries, pitted
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced rosemary
2 tablespoons minced thyme
One 4 1/2-pound semi-boneless leg of lamb, at room temperature (shank end; hip bone removed)
How to Make It
Step 1 Make the Cherries
In a medium saucepan, combine all of the ingredients except the cherries and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Let cool completely, then add the cherries and let stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours. Drain the cherries and transfer to a bowl; discard the brine.
Step 2 Meanwhile, Make the Lamb
Preheat the oven to 400° and set a rack on a baking sheet. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil with the garlic, rosemary and thyme. Season the lamb generously with salt and pepper. Rub the garlic-herb oil all over the lamb and transfer it to the rack.
Step 3 Meanwhile, Make the Lamb
Roast the lamb for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat registers 130°. Transfer the lamb to a carving board and let rest for 30 minutes. Carve the lamb and serve with the pickled cherries.
The drained pickled cherries can be refrigerated overnight.
If you can find it, try using milk-fed lamb that's about eight weeks old. The legs will be very small (a few pounds), but do several and cook them for a little less time. If you are using spring lamb, don't go for anything older than three-to-five months, born in late winter or early spring. These should weigh about 4 pounds with the aitch bone and shank off.
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