Charleston Wine + Food Festival Lambs + Clams Contest: Leg of Lamb

by David Dadekian
Published: Updated:
Border Springs Farm leg of lamb, roasted
Border Springs Farm leg of lamb, roasted

I was one of eight sites selected to participate in BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Lambs + Clams Original Recipe Contest featuring lamb from Borders Springs Farm and Rappahannock River Oysters of Virginia. Over these next four months we’ll receive meat and/or shellfish from the two farms to prepare, photograph and present here as finished dishes. From the BB&T Charleston Wine + Food site:

The contest challenges eight of the country’s best food and recipe bloggers to create four original recipes using products from Craig [Rogers of Borders Springs Farm] and/or Travis [Croxton of Rappahannock River Oysters]. The winner or each challenge – determined by voting by a panel of judges and also by public votes on the Festival’s Facebook page – will receive a piece of Le Creuset cookware to add to their kitchen, and the overall winner will receive a trip to the 2013 Festival and will have one of his or her recipes prepared at Pinot Envy Uncorked presented by Charleston GI + The Local Palate at Charleston Harbor Resort & Marina on Saturday, March 2, 2013.

First up in the contest is preparing a leg of lamb. About a week and a half ago I received a beautiful 6+ lb. leg of lamb at home. Actually my wife received it and I received the completely nonplussed phone message, “There’s a box with a large piece of lamb in it on the porch, which refrigerator do you want it in?” I love that the arrival of meats at our doorstep doesn’t give my wife pause any more. Since I didn’t know how old the lamb was or how long ago it had been slaughtered before it arrived at my house, I decided to give it a little wet age, as long as I could before I had to prepare it for the contest deadline of today. And since I was going to seal it up for 10 days why not toss in a bunch of fresh herbs to get up-close-and-personal with that great lamb gam.

Ten days later, out of the vacuum bag and onto my cutting board for a little boning out. Then I rolled it up tight with an herb/garlic/spice paste inside, tied it and laid some slices of cured pork belly over the top (I made unsmoked bacon with my pancetta recipe, so you can call it bacon or flat pancetta). The larding was because I felt the lamb was very lean and could use a little more fat for the roasting process. I also wanted the bacon for the butternut squash I was preparing.

After a roast, rest and slice, the leg of lamb became three meals for my family: the initial roast with squash and couscous, as lamb sandwiches the next day (with some of the jus that congealed ever so slightly as a spread—wow) and then the remnant pieces went into a lamb ragout for pasta. Thank you to the BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival and Border Springs Farm for the meat.

The recipe for the roast (along with processes for the butternut squash and couscous) are at the end of the photos. Please visit the BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival Facebook page, click on the “Vote” tab and vote for me. Thanks.

Leg of lamb, wet aging with herbs
Leg of lamb, wet aging with herbs
Leg of lamb, bone removed
Leg of lamb, bone removed
Leg of lamb, boned, trussed, rolled & tied, larded with homemade cured pork belly (bacon/pancetta)
Leg of lamb, boned, trussed, rolled & tied, larded with homemade cured pork belly (bacon/pancetta)
Leg of lamb, roasted and sliced
Leg of lamb, roasted and sliced
Roast Leg of Lamb

Roast Leg of Lamb

Serves: 8
Nutrition facts: 200 calories 20 grams fat
Rating: 5.0/5
( 1 voted )


  • 1 boneless leg of lamb, 6-8 lbs., butterflied open
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbs fresh oregano
  • 1 Tbs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 Tbs fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp pimenton (smoked paprika, hot or not, your choice)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 strips of bacon


  1. Set your oven to 425 F
  2. Place the garlic, herbs and spices in a food processor. Process while drizzling in the olive oil to create a paste. Use a spatula to spread the paste all over the interior (non-fat side) of the butterflied leg of lamb. Roll the leg tightly and tie.
  3. Place the leg on an elevated rack in a roasting pan. Layer the bacon strips across the top. Do not wrap them tightly around the leg as you will be removing them before the roast is through.
  4. Place the roast in the oven and cook for approximately 15-20 minutes until the bacon is crisped.
  5. Remove the bacon strips to a plate and place a probe thermometer into the roast. Set probe for desired doneness of lamb (125-130 is medium-rare).
  6. Reserve bacon and crumble for folding into the butternut squash.
  7. Cook for another 20 minutes or until the top of the leg has become browned and somewhat crisp. Drop the temperature to 300 F.
  8. When the probe thermometer indicates the roast is complete, remove to a cutting board and let rest for 20 minutes.
  9. Slice and serve with the jus on the cutting board.

For the squash, prepare your favorite butternut squash puree and then fold in the crumbles bacon. Yes, it doesn’t matter the puree recipe—everything is better with bacon is a truism.

For the couscous, thinly slice 4-5 shallots, saute shallots with a teaspoon of ground cumin (or more if you like, I dig cumin), add stock and dry couscous and cook to package directions, salt and pepper to taste.

Also check out the other seven sites in the contest:

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