Sunday, June 24, 2012

ChezCindy: Rotisserie Leg of Lamb with Red Wine Marinade

I love cooking on my rotisserie.  When it is time for me to buy a new gas grill, I always make sure it includes a rotisserie spit set-up.  It would be awesome to have a BBQ pit with a rotisserie in my backyard, but that's not really feasible at this house.  Maybe someday.
I offered to host a backyard picnic with my family to celebrate the arrival of the newest family member, baby boy born to my niece and her husband.  As the family members started arriving, first stop for each was a pause at the grill to check out the lamb spinning on the rotisserie.... and then they said hello.  It was fun to watch their reactions.  I do admit, I enjoy the entertainment factor of cooking.  And the rotisserie is cooking theater.

Using the rotisserie may look complicated, but it really is not.  The trickiest part is getting the meat harnessed onto the cooking spikes.  I remove one end spike leaving the long spit and one spike tightened in place.  Skewer the spit through the center of the meat, carefully threading the spikes into the end of the meat.  The spikes serve as a "basket" to contain the meat, holding it in place.  Once I have that end in place, I thread the other spike onto the spit, pushing it into the opposite end of the meat.  Tighten the keys to hold everything in place.  I always place an aluminum tray under the spinning meat to catch the drippings that fall from the meat.  But the best part of using a rotisserie is that the juices roll around the meat as it spins to perform a self-basting.  This is what keeps the meat so juicy and flavorful. 

Plan ahead as the leg of lamb is best to marinate overnight in a simple marinade of olive oil, red wine, garlic, rosemary, salt & pepper.  These few ingredients are my go-to when grilling any cut of lamb.  I find they are most complimentary to the flavor of lamb.  So, if you are grilling lamb chops or rack of lamb, you can combine these ingredients as a paste or marinade, reducing the amount of marinating time for the smaller cuts of meat. 

Rotisserie Leg of Lamb with Red Wine Marinade
4 1/2-pound leg of lamb, boneless
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine
2 sprigs rosemary, finely minced
6 large cloves garlic, finely minced
3 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large zipper-style plastic bag.  Add the lamb.  Close the bag and "massage" the marinade onto the meat.  Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.  Once ready to grill, remove the bag from the fridge for about one hour before grilling.  This is a big piece of meat.  You don't want it ice-cold for grilling.  Thread the leg of lamb as described above onto the rotisserie spit.  Cook the lamb until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees for medium doneness.  This 4 1/2-pound leg of lamb took about 1 1/2 hours, with an additional resting time of 20 minutes. 

For the rest of the picnic, I made a potato salad, a panzanella salad of tomatoes, cucumber and sweet bell peppers with a sherry vinaigrette, baked beans with Swiss chard, and for dessert, blackberry nectarine crisps

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