When cooking for a crowd I tend to go for the wow factor—big, labor intensive dishes that have me holed up in the kitchen for hours, if not days, and always exhausted by the time my guests arrive. And of course, it was the wow factor that attracted me to this recipe for Easy Provençal Lamb from Ina Garten's How Easy Is That?, which began with a leg of lamb that was bigger than one of my own legs. Was there anyway that cooking a piece of meat this giant would be as easy as its name implies? There was only one way to find out.
I suppose that I should start by say that the most time consuming element of this recipe was dicing the three pounds of tomatoes that are roasted along with the leg of lamb, and chopping tomatoes is pretty simple. The rest of the recipe is merely a matter of slathering the lamb with a combination of Dijon, balsamic, and garlic, scattering the tomato mixture around it and roasting for about an hour and a half—no turning, no basting, not even endless hours in the oven.
True to the recipe, once the timer sounded the leg of lamb was done, crisp and crusty on the outside and perfect medium rare. It smelled fantastic thanks to combination of melting tomatoes, onions, and herbs, and honey Dijon glaze. It was all wow factor with none of the effort that usually accompanies meals of this caliber, gorgeous Mediterranean flavors and perfectly cooked lamb, and even better plenty of lamby leftovers.
As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of How Easy Is That? to give away this week.
- 1 (6- to 7-pound) bone-in leg of lamb, trimmed and tied
- 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves), divided
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 pounds ripe red tomatoes, cored and 1-inch-diced
- 1/2 cup good olive oil
- 1/2 cup good honey, divided
- 1 large Spanish onion, sliced
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Place the leg of lamb in a large roasting pan fat side up and pat it dry with paper towels. Combine the mustard, 1 tablespoon of the garlic, the rosemary, balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a mini food processor and pulse until the garlic and rosemary are minced. Spread the mixture on the lamb. Place the tomatoes, olive oil, 1/4 cup of the honey, the onion, the remaining 2 tablespoons garlic, 2 tablespoons salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper in a bowl and toss well. Pour the tomato mixture around the lamb and tuck in the thyme and rosemary sprigs. Drizzle the lamb with the remaining 1/4 cup of honey.
Roast for 20 minutes. Turn the heat down to 350°F and roast for another 1 to 1 1/4 hours, until a meat thermometer registers 130 to 135°F for medium-rare. Place the lamb on a cutting board, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Discard the herb stems and return the tomatoes to the oven to keep warm. Slice the lamb, arrange on a platter, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve with the tomatoes and pan juices spooned on top.