Roasted Leg of Lamb

From The City Tavern Cookbook: Recipes from the Birthplace of American Cuisine,
© 2009 by Walter Staib

At the original City Tavern, large cuts of meat, such as leg of lamb, were reserved for bigger parties that were held for special occasions. This would have been the case in larger households as well. In American Cookery, Amelia Simmons included a recipe for Roasted Spring Lamb: “Lay down to a clear good fire that will not want stirring or altering, baste with butter, dust on flour, baste with the dripping, and before you take it up, add more butter and sprinkle on a little salt and parsly shred fine.” Here, the recipe has been adapted to follow a similar French recipe that uses the juices of the lamb to flavor the potatoes during cooking.

Advance preparation required.

Serves 8

  • 4 to 7 pounds leg of lamb
  • 4 garlic cloves, cut into slivers
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 5 large yellow onions, sliced
  • 2 to 3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, very thinly sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
  1. Place the lamb in a medium-sized shallow dish. Using a small paring knife, cut shallow slits in the lamb. Insert the garlic slivers into the slits. Place the sprigs of thyme over the lamb, cover, and refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours, allowing the flavors to marry.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  3. Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a Dutch oven over high heat, add the lamb, and cook on all sides for 10 minutes, until brown. Place the Dutch oven in the oven and roast for 30 minutes.
  4. Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat, add the onions, and sauté for 5 minutes, until translucent. Transfer the onions to a large roasting pan. Add the potatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the lamb on top of the potato mixture and add the wine.
  5. Roast for about 30 minutes, until the wine has evaporated.
  6. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and roast for 30 to 40 minutes more, until a meat thermometer inserted in the lamb registers 145° to 150°F (for medium-rare).
  7. To serve, cut the lamb into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the potato mixture on a serving platter and top with the lamb slices.
  8. Garnish with the chopped parsley.