Sichuan cuisine is famous for its stir-fried lamb, combining the hot and tingly flavors of Sichuan peppercorns and dried red chilies with plenty of cumin and other spices. So we asked ourselves, why not take those very same flavors and rub them all over a glorious roast leg of lamb? The results were phenomenal.
Why this recipe works:
- A Sichuan-inspired spice rub of Sichuan peppercorns, cumin, dried red chilies, fennel seed, and star anise pairs beautifully with this celebratory cut.
- Roasting the lamb at a low temperature then finishing it at high heat delivers an even pink center throughout.
Spicy, numbing Sichuan flavors jolt this leg of lamb to life.
- Yield:Serves 6 to 8
- Active time: 45 minutes
- Total time:5 hours
- For the Lamb:
- 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns, shiny black seeds and stems removed
- 2 tablespoons whole cumin seed
- 2 tablespoons dried red pepper flakes (preferably Thai)
- 2 teaspoons whole fennel seed
- 2 star anise pods
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 (5-pound) bone-in sirloin-end leg of lamb
- Kosher salt
- For the Salad:
- 8 radishes, very thinly sliced on a mandoline
- 5 scallions, white and light green parts only, very thinly sliced on the bias
- 4 medium carrots, peeled and very thinly sliced on a mandoline
- 3 cups loosely packed cilantro leaves and tender stems
- 2 cucumbers, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 cups loosely packed mint leaves
- 1 large head celery, stalks thinly sliced on the bias, plus tender celery leaves
- 4 1/2 tablespoons Chinkiang vinegar (or 3 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar plus 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar)
- 3 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
- 3 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 (1-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger, minced
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Lamb: In a medium skillet, toast Sichuan peppercorns, cumin, red pepper flakes, fennel, and anise over high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and grind to a powder. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in brown sugar until thoroughly combined.
Generously season lamb all over with salt. Rub with spice blend and transfer to a wire rack set over a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 2 and up to 8 hours.
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 275°F. Transfer lamb to oven and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into coolest section of lamb registers 125° to 130°F for medium-rare, or 130° to 135°F for medium, about 2 hours. Remove from oven and let rest for 40 minutes.
When ready to serve, preheat broiler and position rack in middle position. Broil lamb leg, turning once, until browned and crisp all over, about 5 minutes per side.
For the Salad: In a large salad bowl, toss together radishes, scallions, carrots, cilantro, cucumbers, mint, celery, and celery leaves. In a small bowl, whisk together Chinkiang vinegar, distilled vinegar, garlic, soy sauce, ginger, and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Whisk in oil. Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with sliced lamb.