Roast Lamb with Orange and Lemon


Lamb is a popular ingredient in Roman cooking; grazing sheep are a common sight in the hills around the city. Antonio Ciminelli infuses roast lamb with orange and lemon zest; the citrusy pan juices make a silky, lightly tart sauce. Slideshow:  More Lamb Recipes 

Roast Lamb with Orange and Lemon
Photo: © Roland Persson
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 20 mins


  • 2 teaspoons chopped thyme

  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange

  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

  • One 5-pound butterflied leg of lamb

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for rubbing

  • 1/4 cup dry white wine

  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small bowl, combine the thyme with the orange and lemon zest. In another small bowl, combine the orange and lemon juices.

  2. Set the lamb on a work surface, fat side down. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the citrus juice over the lamb, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with two-thirds of the zest mixture. Roll up the lamb and tie it at 3-inch intervals with kitchen twine. Rub the lamb with olive oil and the remaining zest mixture and season with salt and pepper.

  3. Set the lamb in a medium roasting pan. Pour in the wine and 1/4 cup of water and roast for 30 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 400°. Pour 2 tablespoons of the citrus juice over the lamb. Add 1/4 cup of water to the pan and roast the lamb in the upper third of the oven for 45 minutes. Pour the remaining citrus juice over the lamb and roast for about 20 minutes longer, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat registers 145°.

  4. Transfer the lamb to a carving board and let rest for 15 minutes. Scrape the pan juices into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.

  5. Remove the twine from the lamb and carve the meat into thick slices. Serve the lamb with the sauce.

Make Ahead

The seasoned and tied lamb can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before roasting.

Suggested Pairing

As chef Ciminelli notes, locals traditionally serve lamb with Frascati, a white wine, rather than a red. Do the same.

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