Sous Vide Leg of Lamb With Black Olives Recipe

Flavor lamb leg with an intense black-olive paste, then cook it sous vide for an easy and tasty Easter roast that (mostly) takes care of itself.

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Photographs: J. Kenji López-Alt

Why It Works

  • Black olives complement the robust flavor of lamb.
  • Using the sous vide method ensures perfectly even cooking from edge to edge.

A butterflied leg of lamb is ideal for stuffing and rolling with other ingredients, and, because lamb is so robustly flavored on its own, you don't have to be shy or subtle about it. In this recipe, you'll stuff a lamb leg with a paste of black olives, garlic, and parsley, then cook it sous vide for perfectly foolproof results.

Recipe Facts

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Active: 45 mins
Total: 2 hrs 45 mins
Serves: 8 servings

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Ingredients

  • 6 ounces pitted Kalamata olives (about 1 cup; 170g)
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced
  • 1 ounce picked fresh parsley leaves (about 1 cup; 30g)
  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 butterflied boneless leg of lamb (4 to 5 pounds; 1.8 to 2.2kg) (see note)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Combine olives, garlic, parsley, and 2 tablespoons (30ml) olive oil in the bowl of a food processor. Process until a chunky paste forms, scraping down sides with a rubber spatula as necessary, about 20 seconds. Transfer mixture to a bowl.

  2. Spread half of mixture evenly over inside of lamb leg, then carefully roll it back up.

  3. Secure lamb leg with butcher's twine at 1- to 1 1/2–inch intervals, starting from both ends and working toward the center. Season exterior generously with salt and pepper.

  4. Preheat a sous vide water bath to desired temperature according to chart above. Seal lamb inside a vacuum bag, or a zipper-lock bag using the water displacement method, then submerge and cook for desired time according to chart above.

  5. When ready to serve, remove lamb from bag and carefully pat dry with paper towels. In a cast iron, carbon steel, or nonstick skillet, heat remaining 1 tablespoon (15ml) olive oil over high heat until lightly smoking, then add lamb and cook, turning occasionally, until well browned on all sides, about 4 minutes total.

  6. Remove twine, slice lamb, and serve immediately with remaining olive mixture.

Special equipment

Butcher's twine, sous vide precision cooker, food processor

Notes

Imported lamb from Australia and New Zealand tends to have a milder flavor and smaller size. Larger American lamb tends to be more strongly flavored.

Sous Vide Boneless Leg of Lamb Temperatures and Timing

Doneness  Temperature Range  Timing Range 
Very rare to rare  115°F (46°C) to 124°F (51°C)  2 to 3 hours 
Medium-rare  125°F (52°C) to 134°F (57°C)  2 to 6 hours (3 hours max if under 130°F/54°C) 
Medium  135°F (57°C) to 144°F (62°C)  2 to 6 hours 
Medium-well  145°F (63°C) to 154°F (67°C)  2 to 6 hours 
Well-done  155°F (68°C) and up  2 to 6 hours 

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