2000s Recipes + Menus

Smoke-Roasted Oregano-Rubbed Leg of Lamb with Sweet and Hot Apricots

Serves6 to 8
  • Active time:40 min
  • Start to finish:3 1/4 hr
June 2008
Lamb has enough intrinsic flavor to match not only the smokiness that results from being cooked over a smoldering fire but also bold spice mixtures like the lemony oregano paste and spicy apricot relish we use here. If you have any relish left over, it’s also great with chicken, pork, or even just plain rice.

For lamb

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped oregano
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 1 bone-in leg of lamb (6 to 8 lb), trimmed of all but 1/4 inch fat
  • Kosher salt to taste

For apricots

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled ginger
  • 1 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 cup dried California (Pacific) apricots, cut into strips
  • 1/2 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Equipment:

    a charcoal kettle grill (22 1/2-inch or larger); a mortar and pestle

Roast lamb:

  • Open vents on bottom of grill. Light a fire well over to one side of grill, using enough charcoal to fill a large shoebox (about 60 briquettes).
  • Mash together oil, oregano, garlic, zest, and fennel seeds with mortar and pestle to make a loose paste.
  • Pat lamb dry and season generously with kosher salt and pepper. Cut 8 to 10 slits about 2 inches deep in meat with a paring knife. Push herb paste into slits and rub any remaining paste over surface of meat.
  • When flames have all died down and coals are covered in white ash, place lamb on side of grill away from coals. Put lid on grill with vents open one quarter of the way. Roast, adding a handful of new charcoal about every 30 minutes, until lamb is done the way you like it, 1 1/2 to 2 1/4 hours for medium-rare. To check for doneness, insert an instant-read thermometer into thickest part of leg (without touching bone): 120ºF is rare; 126ºF is medium-rare; 134°F is medium; 150°F is medium-well; and 160°F is well-done. (We like to pull the roast at 126ºF.)
  • Transfer lamb to a carving board and loosely cover with foil. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes before carving.

Prepare apricots while lamb roasts:

  • Heat oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then sauté onion until transparent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add ginger, red-pepper flakes, and coriander and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add apricots, vinegar, water, and brown sugar and simmer gently, uncovered, until apricots are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and season with kosher salt and pepper. Serve with lamb.
Cooks’ note: Apricots can be made 2 days ahead and chilled. Bring to room temperature before serving.
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