Lamb has ancient associations with springtime, and it pairs well with sharp spring vegetables like asparagus, dandelion greens and artichokes. Lamb (if cooked right) is a welcome change from winter’s turkeys and roast beef at the new season’s holiday dinners (such as Easter and Passover), and is even a welcome change to ham.

In the unlikely event that you have leftover Lamb from your celebration or Sunday dinner, this recipe is a great way to use it.

If not, you can start from scratch using our favorite Lamb Sandwich recipe inspired by Guy Fieri's "Grilled Lamb Sandwich with Harissa Mayo" from his TV show, "Guy's Big Bite". This recipe can be made with either grilled or roasted Leg of Lamb. Our favorite recipe for Roasted Lamb follows it.


  • 1/2 tablespoon capers
  • 1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups plain unsweetened yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for grilling
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • One 3 to 4-pound leg of lamb, butterflied
  • Yellow Onion, Julienned, then grilled or caramelized
  • 4 Slices Fontina Cheese
  • 1 Rêver Artisan Bakery French Bâtard, or Italian Hoagie
  • Harissa Mayo, for serving, recipe follows
  • Quick Pickled Sweet Cucumbers, for serving, recipe follows

Harissa Mayo:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons store-bought harissa paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Quick Pickled Sweet Cucumbers:

  • 1 hothouse cucumber, finely sliced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 Fresno chile, halved lengthwise, seeded if desired and finely sliced
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup white vinegar


  • Greens of your choice (dandelion, mixed, romaine, etc.)
  • Tomatoes, sliced, grilled or roasted
  • Roasted red peppers


Make the marinade by finely mincing the capers, oregano and garlic together. Add to a small bowl along with the yogurt, olive oil, lemon zest and some salt and pepper, stirring until well combined. Place the lamb in a large resealable bag and pour in the yogurt marinade. Mix it around so the lamb is completely coated all over. Squeeze out any air, reseal the bag and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight.

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.

When the lamb is marinated, remove it from the bag and wipe off any excess with paper towels. Unfold the lamb, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle well with salt and pepper on both sides; this will help form a nice crust. Grill for about 15 minutes, then flip once and cook for another 12 minutes on the second side until cooked through and you have some color on the lamb. When done, remove from the grill, tent with foil and let rest for 10 to 12 minutes before carving across the grain into thin slices. Use this time to grill the onions.

Take the baguette and split horizontally lengthwise so you have long halves. Place on the grill to warm the bread through and get slightly crisp, about 2 minutes per side.

To assemble the sandwiches, slather the bread with Harissa Mayo, stack with slices of lamb, fontina cheese and Quick Pickled Sweet Cucumbers (and any optional ingredients). Place the top of the baguette on and slice the sandwich into quarters.

Harissa Mayo:

Mix the mayonnaise, sour cream, harissa, vinegar and cumin together in a large bowl and stir with a whisk to combine. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as desired. Refrigerate and serve smeared on lamb sandwiches.

Quick Pickled Sweet Cucumbers:

Add the cucumber slices and chile slices to a medium bowl and toss to combine.

In a medium saucepan, add the vinegar, sugar, 1/2 water and salt. Heat gently, stirring, just until the sugar and salt dissolve. Pour over the cucumbers and chiles in the bowl. Set aside to marinate at least 15 minutes before serving.


Lamb is not the most popular meat. Reason: Most people don't know how to cook it. Properly cooked, lamb is a slice of Heaven.

In the last century, standard cookbooks like “Joy of Cooking” told cooks to roast lamb to an internal temperature of 175 to 180 degrees. This is an excellent recipe for a chew toy, and it may explain why many people believe they don’t like lamb — they’ve never had it done right. Equally, the blood-rare lamb served by some meat-centric restaurants can be alarming and stringy. (The sweet spot for lamb doneness, a comfortably large range, is anywhere from 140 to 155 degrees, tested after resting; a feature of the lamb leg is that its different muscle clusters cook differently, so you can serve everything from medium-rare to medium-well-done meat from a single roast.)

American lamb is preferable to cuts from Australia and New Zealand. Most American lambs are fed both grass and grain, yielding meat that is fine-grained, earthy and mild.

This recipe dates back to Roman times. The anchovy butter caramelizes the outside of the meat as it roasts, and melts into the pan to enrich the drippings. Like Asian fish sauce and mushrooms, anchovy adds the umami element, as well as salt, which makes roast meat so satisfying. White wine and butter, not stock and flour, are the foundational flavors of his easy jus.
— Don Ramsey, Chef/Webmaster

Here is a short video from the recipe labs at the New York Times: Cooking.

If you haven't cooked a whole leg of lamb before, here is the place to start. This is not a revolutionary recipe, but slathering on butter and (take our word for it) anchovies makes this version truly essential. The butter can be replaced by duck or goose fat, or olive oil, but the gravy (made from pan drippings) will need to be adjusted. 


  • 1 large lamb roast with a cap of fat, 4 to 6 pounds: bone-in leg (these can be as large as 8 pounds), semiboneless leg, bone-in shoulder, boneless butterflied leg or double loin
  • 2 ounces (1 can) anchovies packed in olive oil, drained, or 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Leaves from 6 fresh rosemary sprigs (2 heaping tablespoons leaves), plus extra sprigs and branches for garnish
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • Black pepper, freshly ground (recommend Tellicherry)
  • 1 fresh lemon, cut in half
  • 1 ¾ cups white wine, plus extra for the gravy



  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Use a small sharp knife to make about a dozen incisions, each about 2 inches deep, through the fat that covers the top of the meat. Using a mortar and pestle or a blender, blend 2/3 of the anchovies (or 2/3 of the mustard if using), the rosemary leaves and the garlic cloves into a chunky paste. Using your fingers, press paste deeply into incisions.
  2. Mix remaining anchovies (or mustard) and the butter into a paste. Smear this mixture all over the surface of the roast. Season liberally with black pepper. (Do not add salt; the anchovies are salty enough, and so is the mustard.) Place the lamb on a rack in a roasting pan, fat side up, and squeeze the lemon halves over. Pour the wine around the roast into the pan.
  3. Roast 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and roast until internal temperature reaches 130 to 135 degrees (for medium-rare or medium meat), about another 60 to 90 minutes. Baste every 20 minutes or so with the wine and drippings in the pan, adding more wine as needed to keep the liquid from scorching. If possible, for the last 15 minutes of cooking, use convection or a broiler to crisp the fat on the roast.
  4. Remove pan from the oven, remove rack from the pan, and let the roast rest on the rack for at least 15 to 20 minutes in a warm place, tented with foil. The internal temperature will rise to about 140 to 145 degrees.
  5. To make sauce from the pan drippings, remove a few tablespoons of fat by tipping the pan and spooning off the top layer. Put the pan over medium heat until the liquid simmers. Taste the simmering liquid and whisk in more wine, 1/4 cup at a time, until the consistency and flavor are right. Do not let the mixture become syrupy; it should be a sharp jus, not a thick gravy.
  6. Carve lamb into 1/2-inch-thick slices and arrange on a heated platter, decorated with rosemary sprigs. Serve with piping hot gravy.
Terry Ramsey