Grill-Roasted Dilled Leg of Lamb
Grilling a bone-in leg of lamb yields dramatic results with very little effort. Cooked the entire time over indirect heat, it will develop a beautifully browned—and delectable— crust. Since it’s impossible to cook this funky-shaped cut to the same doneness throughout, your best bet is to take it off the grill when the lowest temperature is about 5°F shy of the doneness you prefer for lamb; that way, you’ll end up with lamb at pretty much all levels of doneness, all of it juicy.
If you have a choice, buy the leg without the shank, which doesn’t take that well to grilling and adds expense. You can also buy half-legs of lamb; the butt half is preferable. Plan on cooking times for a 3- to 4-pound half-leg to be about two-thirds of what they are for a whole leg.
Makes: 6 to 8 servings
Time: 2 to 3 hours, largely unattended
1 bone-in leg of lamb (7–9 pounds)
1 ⁄ 4 cup chopped fresh dill
1 ⁄ 4 cup minced garlic
1 tablespoon good-quality olive oil
1 lemon, zest grated and lemon cut in half
1 teaspoon salt
1. Start the coals or heat a gas grill for medium to medium-high indirect cooking. That means if you’re using a charcoal grill, push the coals to one side; for gas, turn on the burners only on one half of the grill. Either way, the surface of the grill that doesn’t have any heat underneath it should be large enough to fit the lamb, and the temperature inside the grill (when the lid is closed) should be anywhere between 350 degrees and 500 degrees. Make sure the grates are clean. If using charcoal, put a drip pan under the indirect side of the grill; for gas, empty, clean, and replace the fat trap.
2. Trim the leg of as much surface fat as you can without losing any of the meat, then cut incisions 1-inch deep all around the leg. Work the dill, garlic, oil, lemon zest, and salt together into a paste in a small bowl with your fingers. Stuff the flavor paste into all the incisions, folds, and crevices. Rub any remaining paste over the meat. (You can prepare the lamb up to a day ahead and refrigerate; take it out when you start the grill.)
3. If you’re using it, insert a probe thermometer (like this one) into the thickest part of the leg, and set it for 5° to 10°F below your desired doneness (see the temperature chart at the end of the photo gallery below). Put the leg on the indirect side of the grill with the long, thick side closest to the fire, and make sure to run the probe cable away from the fire. Close the lid. With an instant-read thermometer (like this one), check the internal temperature of the leg in multiple places after 45 minutes and change the position of the leg so the portion with the lowest temperature is closest to the fire. Remember to re-orient the probe cable away from the fire. Continue to monitor and adjust the position every 15 to 20 minutes until your probe alarm sounds, or the lowest reading with your instant-read thermometer is 5° to 10°F shy of the desired doneness. This will take 1 1 ⁄ 2 to 2 1 ⁄ 2 hours, depending on the size of the leg, how hot the fire is, and how you like your lamb.
4. Transfer the leg to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes, checking the internal temperature occasionally. Slice thinly off the bone, squeeze the lemon halves over the sliced meat, and serve.