As the summer progresses, I find myself wanting to delve more into the flavors of the Mediterranean. During each of my weekly grocery trips, I’m stocking up on herbs, lemons, lentils, yogurt, cheese, zucchini, eggplant, and seafood all destined for a treatment from one of those countries that borders the Mediterranean Sea. Is anyone else amazed by the bajillion things you can do with yogurt?! Anyone? Maybe I’m alone on this one…
I’ve also been creating meals that are heavier on the veg side of the pyramid as opposed to the starchy grain side. I blame The Biggest Loser, and my summer weight loss goals. The track record of broiled, grilled, sautéed, and roasted cooking methods of this region and the ample use of herbs for flavor are right up my alley in this season of my cooking life.
And I freaking love gyros. It’s magical to me. Lean meat and veggies topped with tzatziki and wrapped in a warm flatbread. I’m not sure if it really aligns with my diet, but the association of the sandwich with all of the good things about Mediterranean food makes it okay. For now.
For this entry, in homage to my love of gyros, I’ve tackled something I’ve never used before: a leg of lamb. A BONE-IN leg of lamb. This thing was beautiful in the butcher case. And kind of intimidating. It shouldn’t have been, as I made a number of pork and beef roasts. I didn’t grow up with lamb. In fact, I remember the first time my mom decided to give it a go, she picked up some cubes of lamb meat intended for a stew. Unsure of what to do, she simmered it in a lightly seasoned broth… and it made the house smell like a wet goat. I first ventured into lamb dishes myself with my delicious trial of lamb shanks braised in stout. So once again I braised, but with a very small amount of liquid. In the slow cooker. With temperatures in the 90s, I really don’t want to have my oven on for 4 hours. The slow cooker uses less energy too, so double whammy win!
- 1 bone in leg of lamb (about 4-6 pounds)
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp dried dill weed
- salt (I used coarse sea salt.)
- pepper (I used coarsely ground black pepper.)
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- zest of one lemon
- juice of half a lemon
- olive oil
Unwrap the lovely lamb roast. Admire it. Rinse and pat dry. In a small bowl mix together the herbs, salt, pepper, lemon zest, and garlic. Then add in enough oil to form a paste. Rub the paste on the meat.
Once you’re lamb lovin’ is done, squeeze half a lemon over the whole thing. Place in a plastic zip top bag, or a bowl with cling film and let it marinate overnight.
The next morning, take the meat out of the fridge and let it get closer to room temp. After about a half an hour, pat it dry to remove some of that moisture that has collected on the surface. Preheat a skillet on medium-high. When it comes up to temperature, don’t add in oil or grease. Lay the roast into the skillet FAT SIDE DOWN.
Sear for a few minutes or until there’s a nice golden brown crust going on and a nice amount of fat is melted in the pan.
Use that lamb fat to sear the other sides. You may noticed some garlic in the pan, remove those before they burn and toss into the crock of the slow cooker. Once all sides are seared, immediately place the roast into the slow cooker, fat side up.
Pour in about a 1/2 cup of red wine, cover, and cook in low for 7-9 hours, or high 4-6.
This will be crazy tender. Look at that thing!
Serve slices/pieces wrapped in pita with red onions, tomatoes, and a nice dollop of tzatziki.
Here’s how to make some tzatziki! This is probably my favorite condiment in the world.
- 1 cup of Greek yogurt
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
- juice of half a lemon
- 1/2 cup chopped cucumber
- 1 tsp of dried dill or mint (I used this lovely seasoning blend from Savory Spice Shop called Mt. Olympus Greek Style Seasoning.)
- salt to taste (optional)
Chop and mix all of these things together. Done.
Stick this in the fridge and let it all marinate together for at least 30 minutes for the flavors to meld.