Grilled Leg of Lamb Provençal

This is a friends-and-family favorite. It is really simple to execute, and delivers big flavor. The most work I do is trimming the fat and sinew; the tapenade seems to do the rest of the work. For pounding out the lamb, I use a heavy circular meat pounder – NOT a tenderizer. This is flat – don’t use those hammers with all the knobs on them, as it will destroy the lamb. I also have an egg shaped rock about the size of a softball I use sometimes that works beautifully. I always wrap the rock or meat pounder in a couple layers of plastic wrap when I do this. Makes the rock easier to clean.

INGREDIENTS:

3 1/2 pounds (roughly) boneless lamb leg, trimmed of all fat and silverskin, butterflied and pounded to a uniform thickness of around 1 to 1 1/4 inch.
4 large cloves garlic, peeled, de-germed, and minced
Fresh ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon EACH Chef Andrew’s Herbes de Maquis and Lavender Pepper rub, OR 2 tablespoons Herbes de Provence (find some that has lavender in it)
1 cup tapenade made with black olives (see recipe)
1 cup red wine, such as Syrah, Duriff, Grenache, or other Rhone varietal
Salt to taste, preferably a large crystal salt such as Maldon, Murray River, or a Camargue
1 large plastic “zipper” bag (1 gallon freezer Zip-loc is perfect) or a plastic tub that seals tightly and will just hold the meat

METHOD:

Rub one side of the meat with half the garlic, turn over and then rub the other side of the lamb with the remaining garlic.

Grind a light coating of pepper onto both sides of the meat. Sprinkle the herbs evenly onto both sides of the meat.

Carefully smear one side of the meat with tapenade. Turn the meat over and carefully place it smeared side down into the bag or tub. Now smear the other side, trying not to rub off all the herbs.

If using the bag, seal partially closed from both ends, leaving a small space open in the middle. Try to remove as much air as possible from the bag, then gently pour in the wine. If using a tub, gently pour the wine in from a corner trying not to displace too much of the rub. Seal the bag or tub and place in the refrigerator. Move the bag around every few hours to evenly marinate the lamb. If using the tub, gently turn the meat in the tub every few hours to ensure even marinating. Do this over night, or at least start early in the morning of the day you want to serve this. 24 hours is ideal.

When ready to cook, remove the meat from the marinade and set on paper towelling to drain of the wine. Do not rub or pat, simply allow the meat to drain. When drained, salt the meat well just before cooking.

Cook over a medium hot flame, preferably on a grill. Cook to your desired level of doneness, but it really does taste best if still rosy pink in the center and charred a bit around the edges. For best results, make sure your grill is good and hot before placing the meat on the grill. Grill for around 5 minutes. The meat should be ready to come loose easily, but if not, give it another minute or two. As soon as it releases easily from the grill, flip it and cook for 5-6 minutes more. When the meat is still a little red inside, transfer it to a platter that is tilted up on one side just a little, and allow the meat to “rest” in a warm spot for 3-5 minutes. This allows the meat to relax and the juices to redistribute within. The “carry-over” will finish cooking the meat to medium-rare. This is the residual heat in the meat from the grill that is doing the last bit of cooking.

When ready, slice the meat across the grain. Each separate muscle may need slicing in a different direction.

Enjoy hot or at room temperature.

YIELD: Enough to feed 6-8

SOURCE: Chef Andrew Cohen