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31 December 2010

Help me brainstorm dinner: Roast leg of lamb edition. I have a leg of lamb marinating in the refrigerator, in a paste of garlic, rosemary, sage, thyme, and minced black olives (as per a recipe by Jody Adams of Rialto). I am supposed to then roast it, without wiping off the marinade, for an hour, and then smear it with dijon mustard and 2 cups of breadcrumbs and let it roast for another half hour. I cannot, however, use bread crumbs, as my partner cannot eat them. What should I use instead?
The breadcrumbs, according to the recipe intro, are supposed to keep the lamb moist. Substitutions I have considered:

1. Gluten-free bread. Generally so dry that I doubt it will contribute to juicy meat; will most likely dry out the roast.

2. Walnuts. Could possibly work ok with the Mediterranean garlic/black-olive thing in the marinade. Maybe? But I don't really like walnuts all that much (though I'd be fine with them in something like this), and I'm not sure how much of a moisture barrier they'd really provide.

3. Parmesan cheese. Again, would probably work, flavor wise, with the marinade, but I'm not sure how it would taste with the actual lamb, or with the dijon mustard underneath it.

4. Nothing. I have a recipe for broiled/grilled chicken in which just dijon mustard is used as a crust, and it's yummy, so maybe the mustard itself would be enough? I'm just not sure about letting it roast that long.

Other ideas or considerations I'm missing?
posted by occhiblu 31 December | 18:26
Dry meat tends to be the result of over-roasting, IMHO. An hour and a half total cooking doesn't sound like too much, but it'll depend on the weight. I always roast for an hour per kilo at 180C, and slightly less if I want the lamb fairly pink inside. (Sorry about the metric/Celsius stuff - perhaps Google??)

Two non-crumb things that might help are 1) roasting the lamb with some foil over it, removing for the last half hour to brown and get deliciously crusty, and 2)keeping a little bit of water in the roasting pan. It'll keep the air in the oven slightly moister and will also make sure the fat in the pan doesn't splatter as it drips onto the hot pan.

Lamb tends to have a fair amount of fat naturally spread through the meat and is therefore somewhat self-basting. Provided you don't keep sticking the meat with a skewer and letting out the juices right the way through cooking, I think you'll be fine without the breadcrumbs. I've never heard of breadcrumbs keeping moisture in - I've always used them for crustiness and crunch.
posted by ninazer0 31 December | 18:42
Gahh, and after all that I forgot to say that it sounds like a totally delicious recipe. I'm eating cold pizza for breakfast. :)
posted by ninazer0 31 December | 18:43
ninazer0, it's a five-pound leg (with bone), so just over 2 kilos. She instructs roasting it for 10min. at 450F (about 230C), then 30min. at 350F (about 175C), then basting with some olive oil, then another 30min. at 350F. Then it's mustard and breadcrumbs and a bit more olive oil, then another 30min. at 350F/175C. She does say that's approximate, and the recipe is actually for a 6- to 8-pound/3-ish kilo roast. And I tend to like lamb fairly rare.

I've made the recipe before as-is and it turned out wonderfully. It sounds like what you're saying is that the instructions would seem about right for an "unprotected" roast (no breadcrumb armor!) and that I should be all right with it naked.
posted by occhiblu 31 December | 19:00
I'd use the gluten-free bread. With all that marinating and basting I don't think it'll dry out your lamb.

(And yes, mouth.watering.yum)

(Happy New Year!)
posted by Pips 31 December | 19:31
You could do an herb crust -- fennel, peppercorns, more rosemary, that kind of thing. That might be overkill with all the flavor you've already got going, though.

Honestly, I'd skip that step. Go for the mustard, if you want, but I don't think you'd notice an appreciable difference with/without breadcrumbs. I can't imagine that that extra 30 minutes with breadcrumbs would be a ruinous step if the breadcrumbs were left off. Let the roast rest properly, and it will be plenty moist.

I decree it so!
posted by mudpuppie 31 December | 21:29
Oh -- but just thought of another option. Ground up rice crackers? Those Mary's Gone (or whatever that brand is) has one that's got caraway and stuff. Probably not as absorbent as bread crumbs, but if you want something crumby, they might work?
posted by mudpuppie 31 December | 21:30
Thank you all for the suggestions. I ended up just leaving the bread crumbs off, as I remembered I had tried this recipe once with gluten-free bread and we spent the entire dinner thinking that the lamb roast was nice, once you scraped the crushed-up styrofoam off the edge of it. And I basically just got too lazy this evening to do much experimenting.

Anyway. Lamb is out of the oven and currently resting. I will report back.

And happy new year to all!
posted by occhiblu 31 December | 23:23
Lamb was wooooooooooooonderful. Yum yum yum.
posted by occhiblu 01 January | 00:58
Yay! I'm way late to this, but just wanted to mention the possibility of brewer's yeast flakes.

Glad it turned out so well!
posted by treepour 01 January | 02:28
Glad the lamb turned out yummy. Happy New Year to you and that doc dude! When and where are the date again?
posted by lilywing13 01 January | 04:10
lilywing, you mean for the wedding? It'll be in Central California in mid-August.

treepour, I think brewer's yeast has gluten in it? Or at least may have gluten in it, from what I can tell, because it's grown on barley. But I like the idea.
posted by occhiblu 01 January | 13:51
That lamb was crazy good.
posted by ikkyu2 02 January | 01:00
My friend's daughter in Ohio ... || HAPPY NEW YEAR!