Don’t think only about mint when you roast a leg of lamb. Lamb loves other tangy flavors too, such as the cranberries I serve with it here. Lamb also likes sweet chestnuts, which have an unctuousness that is emphasized when they absorb the delicious fats that seep from the meat. Neither the cranberries nor the chestnuts complete the lamb on their own, but when paired, this is a treat to savor.

 

Serves 8

 

Stuffing
1/2 cup port wine
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 cups coarsely chopped roasted chestnuts (see note
4 slices stale high-quality bread, cut into 1/2″ cubes (about 2 cups)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme and sage
About 1/2 cup beef, chicken, or vegetable stock
Lamb
1 (5-51/2-pound ) boneless leg of lamb
1/3 cup fresh marjoram
1/4 cup fresh thyme
5-6 garlic cloves, smashed (about 2 tablespoons)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

 

To prepare the Stuffing:
  1. Combine the port and cranberries in a large bowl. Set aside for about 2 hours, or until the cranberries soften.
  2. Drain and discard the port, leaving the cranberries in the bowl.
  3. Add the chestnuts, bread cubes, herbs, and enough stock to moisten the mixture. It should take on the consistency of a bread stuffing. Set aside.
To cook the lamb:
  1. Lay the lamb on the counter, boned side up. Spread the stuffing over the meat to within a few inches of the edges.
  2. Roll the lamb and tie with kitchen twine in several places to hold it together.
  3. Grind or process the marjoram, thyme, garlic, and salt and pepper in a mortar with a pestle or small food processor until roughly mashed.
  4. Rub this paste over the outside of the lamb. Refrigerate the lamb for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  6. Let the lamb sit on a rack in a roasting pan for 20 to 30 minutes to come to room temperature.
  7. Roast the lamb for 15 to 18 minutes per pound, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 130°F for medium-rare when inserted into the center of the meat. Make sure to put the thermometer into the meat, not the stuffing. If you prefer your lamb medium, roast until the thermometer registers 140°F.
  8. Remove the lamb from the oven.
  9. Let it rest for 15 minutes before carving.
Note: You can buy imported roasted chestnuts, which are sold in jars or in vacuum packs. Be sure to buy dry chestnuts, not those packed in syrup. You can also roast them yourself.

 

Photo Courtesy of Andre Baranowski.  Baranowski is a NY based food photographer and was the principal photographer for Michel Nischan’s cookbook – Sustainably Delicious.