A Progressive Dinner and Slow Roasted Boneless Leg of Lamb with Garlic-Rosemary and Lemon

A Progressive Dinner and Slow Roasted Boneless Leg of Lamb with Garlic-Rosemary and Lemon

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We live in an absolutely amazing community. While many of you may think that living in China is for crazy people who enjoy living in cramped, unhygienic quarters, I must say that your impression of this country is completely wrong. While the locals live in smaller apartments, we are blessed as expats with more comfortable accommodations. We live in a gated community, also known as a compound. Our neighbors are fellow Americans, French, Dutch, Australian, Swedes, Chinese, Taiwanese…. it’s like a United Nations neighborhood. Every culture brings something different to our community. It’s pretty neat to see us when we come together for a night of fun. The best thing about our neighbors is we do not need to go to expensive restaurants or crazy night clubs to have an incredible night together.

This weekend we threw a killer Progressive Party. Our group included Americans, Lebanese, a trio of Australians, a Chilean and a Swede. We ate our way through 4 courses served at 4 houses. Five couples were responsible for the courses (2 main dishes were served), and 2 couples provided the sides to compliment the mains.

I volunteered to do a main dish and I had no doubts I was going to serve Leg of Lamb. I’ve made lamb many times, usually using a fool proof recipe from William-Sonoma. But tonight I wanted to make a great impression on my neighbors and perfectly execute a boneless leg of lamb, that is so flavorful it wouldn’t need gravy.

After searching all morning for the perfect recipe, I hit the jackpot on Serious Eats. While most lamb recipes call for roasting the lamb at 375F (180c), Serious Eats recommended a temperature of 275F (135C) and then cranking it to 500F (260C) for the last 15 minutes. By slow-roasting the lamb,

Cooking at very low temperatures followed by a blast at high heat creates the ultimate contrast with pink meat that extends from edge to edge and a crisp brown crust. It also enhances tenderness.


I followed the recipe on this pretty closely with the exception of the size of the lamb. Reason 1- I didn’t find a 12 lb (6kg) piece. Reason 2- Keeping in mind that we will be eating 2 full courses before sitting down for two mains, I chose to only roast 6 lbs of lamb. I purchased the lamb from Metro.

This meant I needed to also reduce the original recipes cooking time. This part was really tricky given that at a Progressive Dinner, I cannot sit in front of the oven and wait for my thermometer to hit 135F. Luckily my fabulous neighbor Molly brought me her electric meat thermometer. You stick it into the meat while it’s in the oven and it continues to read the meat’s temperature, alerting you when it reaches your desired temperature. Without this I would have served extremely overcooked meat.

By my calculations, at 275F in a convection oven, the lamb would need at least 2 hours. I was shocked when 75 minutes into the roasting process that my beautiful lamb was done. So what do you do when your meat… the main dish is done TWO HOURS BEFORE dinner? Since my desired meat temp was 135F, I turned the oven off when the lamb reached 128F. The temperature continued to rise a couple of degrees which was okay. Then I wrapped the leg in foil and returned it to the oven, leaving the door slightly ajar.

This recipe is very forgiving. The roasting was done, but it still needed to be heated at 500F to crisp the fatty outside. This last step saved me! After leaving the meat to rest for 90 minutes in the oven, I browned it at 500F. Meat was perfect temperature. I wish I browned it a little longer but I had my ayi do it and she took it out a bit early because she was afraid it would burn.

The million dollar question… How was the lamb? It was WONDERFUL! The best lamb I’ve ever made. Parcooking the shallots mixture released the flavors and infused them into the meat. The flavor was so good, it didn’t need gravy (which is my favorite part of meat).

Would I do anything different? Other than sear the outside a little longer, NOPE! Nothing! Nada!

Please note the original recipe calls for a 12lb (6kg) lamb and uses the same amount of Garlic-Rosemary Mixture. I used the full mixture to coat a 6lb (3kg). A bit of friendly advice, double the amount of the Garlic-Rosemary mixture for a stronger flavor profile.

Slow Roasted Boneless Leg of Lamb with Garlic-Rosemary and Lemon


  • 2 T (30ml) Olive Oil
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, minced 
  • 1 Shallot, medium, minced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 6 Anchovy Filets, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 2 T Rosemary Leaves, finely chopped 
  • 1 T Lemon Zest 
  • 1/2 t (2.5g) Red Pepper Flakes
  • 2 T  (30g) Sea Salt
  • 1/2t (2.5g) Black Pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 Boneless Leg of Lambs, carefully trimmed of internal fat and connective tissue, 6 lbs (3kg)
  • Rosemary Sprigs, Garlic Cloves and Lemon Slices for garnish


  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 275°F. Heat olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add garlic, shallot, anchovies, rosemary, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots and garlic are softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl. Add salt and pepper and mix with a fork to combine.

  2. Rub half of mixture into inside of butterflied lamb leg. Roll leg and tie securely at 1-inch intervals with butcher’s twine. Rub remaining mixture over exterior of lamb. Cook immediately or let rest uncovered in the refrigerator for up to one night for best flavor and texture.
  3. When ready to cook, place lamb on a wire rack set in a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Transfer to oven and roast until an instant read thermometer inserted into coolest section of lamb registers 125° to 130°F for medium-rare, or 130° to 135°F for medium, 1 hour, 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 40 minutes.
  4. While lamb is resting, increase oven temperature to 500°F. Return lamb to oven and roast until exterior is deep brown and crisp, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes. Remove twine with kitchen shears, transfer lamb to cutting board, slice into 1/4 inch slices, and serve.


Here are some pictures of the Progressive Dinner!

COURSE ONE: Appetizer courtesy of Suzanne and Bob: Olive Tapenade Bruschetta, Pesto Bruschetta, Cannellini Bruschetta, Cheeses with Jalapeno Jelly, Mushroom Bruschetta and Goat Cheese and Red/Yellow Pepper

COURSE TWO Soups and Salad courtesy of Val and Doug: Avocado and Citrus Fruit Salad, Burratta Cheese and Vegetable Salad, Crab Chowder and Tomato-Basil Soup

THIRD COURSE: Main Meal courtesy of Molly and Tanis, Hanady and Hadi, Genevieve and Lucy and Paul: Tomato and Olive Cod, Slow-Roasted Lamb Leg, Potatoes Au Gratin, Green Beans, Roasted Potatoes and Kale Gratin



FOURTH COURSE Dessert courtesy of Lina and Kaled / Anna and Nathan: Chocolate-Raspberry Cake, Pecan Tart and Apricot Tart

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