Rosé-Marinated Grilled Leg of Lamb with Walnut Salsa Fresca

Studding a leg of lamb with anchovies adds savory depth to this beautiful cut of meat flavored with a garlicky, herbal rosé-based marinade. The flavors in the walnut salsa fresca served alongside mirror those of the marinade, bringing a final dose of richness and flavor to this standout dish.

Rosé-Marinated Grilled Leg of Lamb with Walnut Salsa Fresca
Photo: Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Thom Driver
Active Time:
1 hrs 45 mins
Marinate Time:
8 hrs
Total Time:
12 hrs
8 to 10 servings

Marinades soften meat's muscle tissue, penetrating the interior and delivering an added layer of flavor. While marinades can be made with any acidic liquid, wine is a particularly good one; in addition to acidity, wine adds complex flavor to the finished dish. Bringing the wine to a boil helps cook off some of its alcohol and concentrate its fruitiness and acidity.

In this recipe, a rosé-based marinade carries garlic, rosemary, and its own fruity flavors deep into the meat, while anchovies, which stud the surface of the leg of lamb, melt into the meat it cooks on the grill. The oily, nutty Walnut Salsa Fresca, made with fresh lemon zest, rosemary, and anchovy fillets packed in oil, brings a welcome dose of fat and richness that mirrors the seasoning in the marinade.

Pair the lamb with a Provençal rosé to complement the vibrant, fruit-forward flavors of the dish.­


Grilled Lamb

  • 1 cup rosé wine (such as Commanderie de Peyrassol Cuvée des Commandeurs)

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1 cup fresh rosemary leaves (about 1 ounce) (from 2 bunches), plus rosemary sprigs, for garnish

  • 2 garlic heads, cloves separated and peeled (about 3/4 cup)

  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 ½ teaspoons black pepper

  • 1 (6- to 7-pound) bone-in leg of lamb with shank attached, trimmed

  • 1 (2-ounce) can anchovy fillets in oil (such as Cento), drained

Walnut Salsa Fresca

  • 2 cups walnuts, toasted and finely chopped (about 1 3/4 cups

  • 1 (2-ounce) can anchovy fillets in oil (such as Cento), drained and finely chopped

  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)

  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil


Make the grilled lamb:

  1. Bring wine to a boil in a small saucepan over high. Boil, undisturbed, until flavors are concentrated, most of the alcohol has cooked off, and liquid is reduced to about 1/4 cup, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from heat; add salt, and stir until dissolved. Let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

  2. Combine cooled wine mixture, rosemary leaves, garlic, oil, and pepper in a blender. Process until a thick paste forms, about 1 minute. Set aside. Using a sharp paring knife, puncture lamb leg every 11/2 to 2 inches, creating about 1-inch-deep slits (about 1/2 inch wide). Tear anchovies into small pieces (halves or thirds), and stuff into lamb slits. Smear lamb exterior with rosé mixture, rubbing it into the slits. Wrap lamb tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.

  3. Uncover lamb, and let stand at room temperature about 1 hour. Open bottom vent of a charcoal grill completely. Light charcoal chimney starter filled with briquettes. When briquettes are covered with gray ash, pour them onto bottom grate of grill, and push to one side of the grill. Adjust vents as needed to maintain an internal temperature of 400°F. Coat top grate with oil; place grate on grill, and preheat 5 minutes. Place lamb, fat side up, on oiled grates over side with coals. Grill, uncovered, turning occasionally, until lamb is charred with a deep brown crust on all sides, about 15 minutes. A flare-up might occur from the fat rendering; if so, close the lid, or transfer lamb to side of grill without coals until flare-up goes down, and then uncover, or transfer lamb back to grates over coals.

  4. Transfer lamb, fat side up, to side of grill without coals. Insert a leave-in thermometer in thickest portion of lamb. Grill, covered, adjusting vents as needed to maintain internal grill temperature of 400°F, until leave-in thermometer in lamb registers 115°F to 120°F for medium-rare, 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 45 minutes, rotating lamb 90 degrees on grates every 30 minutes (being mindful of the thermometer probe). If grill temperature drops below 350°F, prepare more briquettes, and replenish as needed. Transfer lamb to a cutting board. Loosely tent with aluminum foil, and let rest 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the walnut salsa fresca:

  1. Stir together walnuts, anchovies, lemon zest, chopped rosemary, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Add oil, and stir to combine. Set aside at room temperature until ready to serve.

  2. Hold lamb shank in one hand while you cut the meat away from the bone in large slices, rotating the leg as needed. Arrange lamb slices, crust side up, on a platter. Garnish grilled lamb with rosemary sprigs, and serve with walnut salsa fresca.

Suggested Pairing

Red-fruited, fragrant rosé: Commanderie de Peyrassol Cuvée des Commandeurs

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