Leftovers encouraged when cooking leg of lamb

A leg of lamb rubbed with olive oil, finely chopped garlic, rosemary and sea salt is one of my favourite meals. The meat is tender, flavourful and warms the soul.

A friend of mine said, “I don’t think we’ve ever had leftover lamb. It’s always eaten the first meal.”

But as a guideline for leftovers, which works whether you have a roast of lamb, beef, pork, turkey or chicken, keep in mind a salad, a sandwich and a soup, and you will always find tasty options.

As soon as you’ve finished eating, cool the meat at room temperature and refrigerate it within about 90 minutes.

Cooked lamb can be safely stored for up to three days in the refrigerator, or for up to two months in the freezer. Reheat until steaming hot throughout.

A leg of lamb is usually sold with the shank off. Lamb shank is a different cut. A bone-in leg is trickier to carve but has so much more flavour.

The first step to get it ready for the oven is to remove the silver skin, if there is any. This will not tenderize with cooking.

Marinating is not recommended for leg of lamb. It is a tender cut and marinating may degrade the texture of the meat.

Roasting a leg of lamb

  • 1- 5 to 7 lb. bone-in leg of lamb 2-3 kg
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil 45 mL
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. fresh rosemary sprigs, coarsely chopped or dried rosemary 15 mL

Take the leg of lamb out of the refrigerator about an hour before cooking so it comes closer to room temperature. This promotes faster, more even cooking. Set the lamb on a rack inside a roasting pan. Drizzle with the olive oil and rub all over into the fat and meat. Season generously all over with salt and pepper, garlic and rosemary. Position the lamb so that it is fat-side up on the rack.

Heat oven to 325 F (160 C). Position the oven rack to the middle of the oven.

Cover the lamb loosely with foil and roast one hour. Remove foil and put the lamb back in the oven and roast for about another hour.

Take its temperature with an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part, not touching bone. Cook to just a few degrees lower than your desired doneness. It will continue to cook after it is removed from the oven. If it isn’t ready, check the temperature every 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let the lamb rest, tented loosely with foil, for at least 15 minutes before carving. Transfer the lamb to a clean cutting board. The bone runs through the meat at an angle, giving you two fairly big pieces of meat on either side of the bone. Start with the side of meat that feels most accessible to you.

Make straight, parallel cuts straight down through the thickest part of the meat until you hit the bone. You should be cutting perpendicular to the bone, across the grain of the meat. The slices will still be attached where they meet the bone.

Turn your knife so that it’s now parallel to the bone instead of perpendicular. Starting at the end of the bone furthest from you, cut through the slices where they attach to the bone. Keep your knife close to the bone so you get as much meat as possible.

Place the slices on a serving platter. Tent the platter with foil to keep the meat warm.

Roasting temperature: 325 F (160 C).

Rare: 125 F (50 C) or about 15 minutes per pound (500 g); medium-rare: 130 F to 135 F (54-58 C) or about 20 minutes per lb. (500 g); medium: 135 F to 140 F (58-60 C) or about 25 minutes per lb. (500 g); well-done: 155 F to 165 F (68-74 C) or about 30 minutes per lb. (500 g).

Lamb and feta salad

  • 1 jar roasted red peppers
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar 15 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar 1 mL
  • fresh mint leaves
  • salad greens
  • 1/2 c. feta, crumbled 125 mL
  • leftover roasted lamb

Make a vinaigrette with two tablespoons (30 mL) of the oil from the roasted peppers, one tablespoon (15 mL) red wine vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) sugar and chopped fresh mint leaves. Tear a few of the roasted peppers into smaller pieces and toss with vinaigrette, salad greens and feta. Warm the lamb in a pan for two to three minutes. Add to salad.

Lamb and hummus flatbreads

  • leftover cooked lamb
  • Persian spice or shwarma spice mixture
  • 4 whole wheat pita flatbreads
  • 1 c. hummus 250 mL
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • parsley, chopped

Warm the flatbreads in a dry pan over medium heat or wrapped in foil in a 325 F (160 C) oven. Spread each with two or three tablespoons (30-45 mL) hummus.

Slice the lamb, season with spices and lightly warm it in a saucepan with a little bit of water or gravy. Scatter down the middle on top of the hummus of each flatbread. Top with carrot and parsley, drizzle over any pan juices, roll up and eat.

Lamb, tomato and barley soup

For the stock:

  • bone from roast lamb
  • 1 large onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 large rib of celery, roughly cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 carrots, roughly cut into 4 pieces each
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 6 whole black peppercorns
  • 4 quarts water 4 L

For the soup:

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil 30 mL
  • 1 c. diced onion 250 mL
  • 1 tbsp. chopped garlic 15 mL
  • 6 c. lamb stock 1.5 L
  • 16 fl. oz. diced tomatoes with juice 500 mL
  • 1 rib of celery, finely diced
  • 1 large carrot, finely diced
  • 1/2 c. dry pearl barley 125 mL
  • 1 tsp. each dried thyme and rosemary 5 mL
  • 3 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley 45 mL
  • lamb meat leftovers, coarsely chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste

To make stock:

In a large pot, place lamb and cover with water. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and discard water. This will remove all impurities from the finished stock.

Place lamb bone in pot with all other stock ingredients, bring to a boil then simmer for 2 1/2 hours, uncovered. Cool and strain. Discard solids. There should be about five of six cups (1.25-1.5 L) of stock. Cool and skim off fat that has risen to the top and discard.

To make soup:

Heat two tablespoons (30 mL) of olive oil and add onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Cook over medium high for four minutes. Add stock, diced tomatoes, barley, thyme, rosemary and parsley.

Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a low simmer. Cook covered for one hour.

Remove lid and add cooked lamb and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, if necessary.

Serve with chopped fresh parsley sprinkled over the top of the bowls.

Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and farmers’ market vendor at Swift Current, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. She writes a blog at allourfingersinthepie.blogspot.ca. Contact: team@producer.com.

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