Even though lamb is a featured item at many top American restaurants, the average American consumes less than one pound of the meat per year. And that's a shame, because it is not only the most tender and mild of all red meats, it's also the most healthful, with just eight grams of fat per three-ounce serving (compared to 16 grams in the same amount of beef). Whatever the reason for the low consumption, lamb should not be overlooked for cooking at home – especially in the Spring, when the animal is at its most delicious.
A whole leg of lamb, roasted and running with bloody red juice, is all about ease. Once you've salted and shoved that meat in the oven, and poured some pinot noir for your friends, there's nothing to it but timing. For the best flavor, chef Bruce Aidells encourages ordering from a high-end U.S. ranch: "Jamison Farm is a great source, finished completely on grass."
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
• 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
• 1 tsp kosher salt
• 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tbsp minced garlic
• 6-to-8-lb whole leg of lamb, shank intact, hip bone removed
Mix all ingredients (except the lamb) in a medium bowl and set aside. Trim most of the visible fat from the leg and skewer or sew together the flaps of meat where the bones have been removed. Brush the meat with the flavored mixture and let sit for up to two hours at room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350. Roast the lamb in the middle of the oven for 1 hour. When the internal temperature of the thickest part of the meat reads 115–120 (for perfect medium-rare), remove the lamb from the oven. Loosely cover the roast with tinfoil and let it rest on the counter for at least 20 minutes before carving and serving. Oven-roasted potatoes and lightly steamed green beans with garlic and walnut oil are the perfect side dishes for this piece of meat. Serves 6.