Long-Roast Leg of Lamb

Recipe by Carr Biggerstaff

A friend shows up with a leg of lamb and a paper sack filled with fresh herbs and asks me to cook the leg, claiming that he will bring the cherry sauce.  I unwrapped the leg and let it dry-age in the refrigerator for 2 days.  This is basically a classic recipe for roasting a leg of lamb, the old way. And just in case your friend does not bring the sauce, it is included in this recipe.

Suggested wine pairings: Pinot Noir, Syrah

Preparation time:  20 minutes
Cooking time:  6-7 hours
Serves: 6-8

Lamb – on entire leg (shank included)
Olive oil – 2 tbsp
Sea salt – 1 tsp
Ground black pepper – 2 tsp
White wine – 1 bottle (750ml)
Water – 1 cup and more as needed
Garlic – 10 cloves, peeled
Red onion – 1 large, chopped
Rosemary – 5 sprigs fresh (2 tsp dried)
Thyme – 5 sprigs fresh (2 tsp dried)
Savory – 5 sprigs fresh (2 tsp dried)
Bay leaves – 3-5 (depending on size)
Pinot Noir – 1 cup
Dried cherries – 1½ cups.


  • Preheat oven to 400ºF.
  • Rub the entire leg with olive oil and season with the salt and pepper.
  • Place in a large roasting pan hip-side down and roast for 30 minutes.
  • Remove, reduce the oven temperature to 300ºF and let the leg rest for 10 minutes.
  • Distribute the onion, garlic and herbs on top of, under and around the leg.  Add the wine and 1 cup of water.
  • Cover the roasting pan with foil and seal as well as possible.  Return the pan to the oven.
  • Check the leg after it has been in the oven for 4 hours, then after another hour, to make sure that there is enough liquid to prevent the gravy/fonde from scorching. Add water as necessary.
  • Remove from the oven after 6 hours.  Let rest for 15 minutes.
  • Pull the meat from the bone and place into a slow cooker or other container to keep the meat moist and hot while you make the sauce.

Sauce Preparation

  1. Remove the bones and fat from the roasting pan.
  2. Transfer the gravy from the roasting pan to a saucepan. Scrape the fonde from the roasting pan into the saucepan.
  3. Add the Pinot Noir and bring to a low boil.  Remove from the heat and let stand 15 minutes.  Skim as much of the fat (oil) off the top as you can.
  4. Bring the sauce back to a low boil and add the dried cherries.
  5. Simmer for 30 minutes.  Add more wine as needed to thin the sauce.

Serving Suggestions:  Au gratin potatoes, white beans and streamed broccoli.