Sublime Boneless Leg of Lamb Roast

There was a time in my culinary journey where I confidently cooked lamb:  chops, loins, legs, ground. It was usually very good.   Then I am not sure why, I just stopped cold turkey and have felt intimidated cooking it myself since.  I think it may have had to do with eating it on a trip to Paris and feeling I just could not live up to that perfect dish.    I often order it in restaurants for that reason but am often underwowed at the seasonings and usually disappointed.    The fabulous Selma at Selma’s Table once posted a recipe for lamb that had me sitting up straight, hanging on her every word and wanting to leap through my screen right to her table.   It was a boneless shoulder of lamb brilliantly rubbed with an interesting paste ON THE INSIDE of the meat.

 Say again?  I have always rubbed meats on the outside and most of the rub ends up burning before the roast is done.   I knew I had to make this roast and I am here to tell you it was sublime, just as Selma called it.  The rub is  a flavor sensation of anchovy, rosemary, loads of garlic, Dijon and harissa.  Harissa, you ask?  Me too!  It is a paste of  ground peppers and available in different levels of fire.  I bought the mild but will be more adventurous next time.  I am putting harissa in all kinds of foods like scrambled eggs, as a sandwich spread, with tuna instead of mayo.  Delish!   But I digress, back to the lamb.  Roast the lamb on a rack fitted over a pan where you will have placed  your potatoes halves so they can roast in the savory pan drippings.  You may never have had potatoes this good. O.M.G.  The aroma permeating the house as this intensely savoury lamb roasted,  even had my cat moaning around the kitchen unable to endure the wait for a nibble.  Neither could we,  so without any further waiting, here is the recipe.  The lamb ends up succulent, juicy and bursting with sensational flavor.



4-5 lb boneless leg or shoulder of lamb(ask your butcher to prepare it for rolling/stuffing)

10-12 potatoes such as Yukon Golds, peeled and cut in half length wise

salt and pepper

olive oil for potatoes

RUB ingredients:  2 stems of fresh rosemary to yield about 2 T of leaves;  2 T fresh thyme leaves; 8 cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped; 8 anchovies in oil;  2 T anchovy oil from the can; 2 t grainy Dijon;  2 t harissa paste.   Pulverize all the ingredients in a small food mill to create a thick paste.


Preheat the oven to 350 F.   Coat the potato halves with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Place the potatoe halves face down on the roasting pan and begin roasting while you prepare the lamb. I tucked in the extra herbs around the potatoes.

Turn on your BBQ grill to high in preparation for searing the meat.  Doing this step outdoors minimizes the clean up.  If you don’t have a grill, you can sear the roast in a stovetop Dutch oven.   Remove your roast from the elastic butcher string it comes in and reserve these.  Unroll the lamb and smear generously with the paste, making sure to get it into all the crevices and cracks.

Reroll the lamb with the fatty side on the outside and secure it back in the reserved strings  or in kitchen twine if your roast did  not come with strings.  Coat the ends with any paste that extrudes out.  Sear the meat over high heat, about 2 minutes on each side to create nice grill marks.Turn the potatoes over and place your lamb on the roasting rack.

Bake according to the temperature you desire:

20 minutes per pound for rare(internal temperature 120-130F).

25 minutes per pound for medium rare (internal temperature  130-140F)

30 minutes per pound for medium (140-150F)

35 minutes per pound for well done (150-160F)

Make yourself a cup of tea or pour yourself a glass of wine while you sit back and let this delectable dinner cook itself.

The lamb will rest 20 minutes once done and continue cooking in that time so bear this in mind when calculating your cooking time.  Remove the butcher string and slice in 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick slices.  Serve with the potatoes and a vegetable side.  Green beans, broccoli or brussels sprouts are all good choices.

Making the rub:


Starting to roast the potatoes:


Smearing the rub inside and out of the meat then rerolling and searing the outside on the grill:




Finishing the roasting of the potatoes and the lamb in the oven:

The seared lamb ready to go into the oven

The seared lamb ready to go into the oven

The gorgeous roast!

The gorgeous roast!


You can see how onctious the rub remains inside the roast.

Our roast was prepared rare

Our roast’s temperature was rare.  Look at those potatoes!

This sublime roast would be perfect for a Sunday dinner.


59 thoughts on “Sublime Boneless Leg of Lamb Roast

      • Hi Johanne, this year I tried your recipe for out Easter Lamb Roast. The seasoning sounded different but interesting. The roast came out pretty well and tasted very good.. only issue were the potatoes: great taste from all the drippings but after an hour and a half (when the meat was done) their texture was questionable. Outside was really dark, hard like a shell, the inside like mashed potatoes. What do you think happened? My guess they were in there way too long, maybe half the time would be sufficient?

      • Oh so sorry about this Helga. I am not sure why this happened to the potatoes except perhaps they overcooked. I know Ilse has made this for IWCP. I can check with her also. I hope you’ll try it again.

  1. Hi Johanne! Thank you so much for your kind words – I am so delighted that you tried the recipe. Just wanted to say that your lamb looks fabulous – it looks perfectly pink! I am so glad that it worked for you and that you liked it! Those potatoes are the best aren’t they?

    • I cannot tell a lie Selma. Those potatoes were just as good as the lamb! It was all in your superb combinations of flavors in the rub creating that sublime flavoring in the potatoes. The whole dish was perfection. Will make it again and again!

      Sent from my iPad


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  3. Fabulous looking roast! Cooking potatoes under a racked roast of any kind, is one of my favorite preparations. But back to that lamb…fear no more! It looks as if you’ve conquered lamb once again. Beautiful and delicious looking results! Thanks for sharing this with the group at this week’s Fiesta Friday. 🙂

  4. Welcome to the party Johanne, and thank you for that awesome roast! Selma does have some wonderful spices that she uses, and this is no different. Your lamb came out just the right shade of pink, well done! Love the potatoes cooked under the lamb and the extra herbs tucked in there for flavor. I’ll bet your house had a wonderful aroma, there’s nothing like a roast lamb dinner! Thanks!

    • You are right Loretta, the aroma of this roast filled the house and had us all anticpating this meal eagerly. Selma’s creative mix of spices is really enticing and has broadened my palate. Just like I love my book club for expanding my reading choices, FF stretches my culinary tastes. Love it! Thank you for hosting us this week Loretta!

      Sent from my iPad


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  7. You did an amazing job Johanne, and for what ever you reason for quitting lamb I can’t say because this dish looks just gorgeous. Kudos to the lovely Selma for getting your confidence back. It was a gift to you and your family!

  8. You know, Selma absolutely loved lamb and she loved hearty savory dishes such as this. And the word sublime just “goes with” Selma. Thank you so much for joining this special tribute. This recipe and your words are a keeper.

  9. How wonderful that Selma’s recipe led you to regain your confidence in cooking lamb, Johanne. She always was so encouraging. One day I will try this lamb roast, too. It just sounds too fantastic not to. It’s another must-try from the most excellent cook that Selma was. How we’ll all miss her.

  10. What a delicious sounding dish and how great that she got you back into cooking lamb (one of my favorites as well). I must try it, as with many of her recipes – it’s so nice that we have that to come back to and that so many are re-creating some of their favorites in tribute to her. A lovely post.

  11. What a special tribute Johanne, I remember this post of yours so well. The pictures are gorgeous, I can almost smell all those beautiful ingredients….just amazing! Selma was pretty chuffed when you gave her the recognition you did back then, and I’m sure she will be just as excited with this recognition again. Great!

    • You had written a lovely comment the first time I posted this recipe too Loretta. I am writing from the Arctic watershed of Canada as I visit family. Spotty internet and not cooking but I wanted to share a tribute to the amazing Selma who will be so dearly missed!

      Sent from my iPad


      • That sounds so exotic Johanne “The Arctic watershed of Canada” :)). We just returned from our trip to Quebec and what a trip it was!! I’ll be doing a post on my “Travel” section of the blog soon. Yes, we will all definitely miss Selma, she was such a sweetheart. I posted 2 tributes, each one more emotional than the other, and I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s tributes to her. Just beautiful. Enjoy your time in Canada with family. We’re off to Toronto the first week in August, hopefully it will be cooler there. There’s a heat warning here for Sunday and Monday, so you’re better off in the Arctic watershed of Canada 🙂

  12. Your roast looks delicious Johanne! I’ve never cooked a lamb roast before (I don’t really do big pieces of meat!) but I’m very tempted and your instructions are very clear… Thank you for sharing Selma’s wonderful recipe here.

    • Thank you for your kind comments Lili! Selma’s lamb was so delicious, it might even seduce you into cooking a big roast for a crowd someday. It sure is an exceptional recipe, as was our Selma.

      Sent from my iPad


      • You’re welcome Johanne and you’ve convinced me! I’ll pin this but might only bring it out for a crowd after a practice run! Selma’s recipe , like her as you say, really does look very special. Thank you for sharing it. x

  13. Thisn is a lovely tribute to Selma. I remember reading the recipe thinking what you did, how brilliant to place the rub inside! With BBQ season here it looks like a delicious recipe for the grill!

    • Thank you Petra. I know you will absolutely love Selma’s recipe if you give it a try this summer. I still can’t believe we have lost that beautiful and talented soul. I am glad we have her recipes and writing to treasure.m

      Sent from my iPad


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