If you've spent time cooking from many of Mario Batali's recipe, you'll know the man is not afraid of bitter. His grasp on how bitter flavors come into play is typical of Italian cuisine, where bitter is celebrated instead of disguised. This Leg of Lamb in a Clementine Crust from Molto Batali employs whole clementines—bitter pith, skin, seeds, and all—into a coating that's bitter, sweet, herbal, and pretty much made for winter lamb enjoyment.
By blending whole clementines with grapefruit juice (hello again, bitter) and rosemary, and leaving the lamb to marinate overnight, the full citrus flavor of the rub works into the fatty lamb, cutting the richness as it roasts and creating a pan sauce with notes of bright orange, woodsy rosemary, and lovely lightly bitter backbone.
As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Molto Batali to give away this week.
- ½ cup grapefruit juice
- 4 clementines, halved
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 boneless leg of lamb (5 to 7 pounds—always get the bigger one), rolled and tied by your butcher
Combine the grapefruit juice, clementines, wine, garlic, rosemary, 2 tablespoons black pepper, and the oil in a blender or processor, and pulse until the mixture forms a rough paste.
Place the lamb in a large, shallow, nonreactive dish or pan. Rub the marinade over it, and turn the lamb to coat it on all sides. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours (up to 36 hours).
Remove the lamb from the marinade, reserving the marinade, and transfer it to a roasting pan. Season the lamb aggressively with salt and pepper, and let it stand at room temperature for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425°F. Rub the reserved marinade over the lamb, and add 1 cup of water to the roasting pan. Place the pan in the oven and roast for 20 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 400°F, and continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer registers 130°F for medium-rare, roughly 1 hour and 25 minutes for a large roast. (It may be only 45 minutes for a small one, so be careful and check the temperature after 45 minutes in any case.)
Remove the pan from the oven and allow the lamb to rest for 20 minutes before carving.