Thursday, April 21, 2011

Maria's Grilled Leg of Lamb for Easter

Maria took care of my daughter when she was a baby, and she taught me a few things about Greek olive oil and lamb. She comes from Kalamata and still has family back in Greece who tend and harvest the family olive trees. When she visits she ships back large tins of this amazing olive oil,  and I've been the lucky recipient of a few of them over the years. Before Maria came into our lives I thought the Italians produced the world's best oil, but after tasting her family stash I handed the crown over to the Greeks. She explained that a lot of olive oil has a slightly harsh aftertaste which leaves a bit of a burn in your throat after you swallow it. Not hers, it was like pure velvet going down and not a trace of bitterness. Definitely the most delicious that I've ever tasted. When Easter came along she showed me how she cut and marinated a leg of lamb in the Greek tradition, and the olive oil was a key ingredient.

Maria's Grilled Easter Lamb
One Leg of Lamb
4-6 Lemons
2 Stalks Fresh Rosemary
6-8 Cloves of Garlic (sliced)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Cut the meat off the bone by slicing into the bone, then carefully cutting if off in big pieces. Trim away any large pieces of fat, but not all of it as it adds flavor.

Then cut each half into smaller pieces by following the natural separation in the meat. Now take those pieces and cut into strips that are about 4-5 inches long by 1 1/2 inches wide.

Place the lamb in a large pan to marinate. Coat with extra virgin olive oil, preferably Greek. I use Ariston which I purchase locally at Pain D'Avignon Bakery in Hyannis. Add the sliced garlic, rosemary (which has been stripped off the stalk), juice from the lemons and salt and pepper. Mix well.  Leave it to sit on the counter (the lemon acts as a preservative, so no need to worry about spoilage) and turn occasionally. Let it marinate for at least 4 hours. Grill over medium heat for about 8-10 minutes for medium rare, or a bit longer if you prefer.

Allow the cooked lamb to rest for a few minutes before serving. Accompanied with  roasted vegetables and a nice green salad, it's a perfect springtime meal. Enjoy!


  1. But of course, we have to have lamb for Easter Sunday. I have to work and the honor of following my instructions falls to my husband, so the instructions have to be very precise:)
    I have never tackled the leg of lamb this way and it looks intriguing. I can imagine the wonderful taste and juiciness of the lamb prepared on the grill in smaller chunks.
    But, I love lamb in any incarnation:)
    Maria's recipe will make its appearance at my table this spring - we have a wonderful Halal butcher in the neighborhood, and lamb is walking distance away.
    BTW, my Dad always brings cans of Greek Olive oil when he visits, and he visits often (too bad my Mom is not a fan of olive oil:)

  2. Lana,
    I also love lamb in any incarnation, and we share the love of Greek olive oil :) Looking forward to hearing about your Spring feast.