Boneless Leg of Lamb

Years ago, I remember telling a friend that I wanted to take a butchering class some time. She said, “you mean you want to learn how to kill chickens?” I then clarified that I wanted nothing to do with animals outside of my kitchen, but I wanted to know what to do with them once they were in my kitchen.

The extent of my butchering has been trimming beef tenderloins. This came from too many times purchasing packaged filet mignons, which looked perfect underneath the stretched plastic wrap, but when I got them home they would fall into 2 or 3 pieces.

That’s when I started buying whole tenderloins and being in charge of cutting the filets myself. It’s less expensive, and nothing goes to waste.

When on Amazon.com looking though cookbooks a few years ago, I came upon what seemed like a perfect reference book for me. It’s called The Butcher’s Apprentice, by Aliza Green, published in 2012.

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This book was my dream come true. Pretty much anything you need to learn how to do with meat is in this book, along with step-by-step directions. Recently I decided to de-bone a leg of lamb using the book.

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I opened it up and immediately noticed that the photos are mirror images of what they should be. I would have imagined the photos be from the butcher’s perspective, maybe using a camera attached to the ceiling.

I tried laying the book on the floor upside-down, but the angle of the camera was off for me.

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There was also no labeling of the leg of lamb. Turns out mine didn’t have a pelvis attached. The parts about shanks and femurs and so forth were lost on me – I was mostly trying to match what the meat looked like in the photos.

Basically, I gave up on my “prized” book, and just removed the two bones that I found, some fat, and some of the fell.

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What was left was a mess, but I seasoned it with garlic pepper and salt. Check out my scimitar! My husband thought I’d perhaps joined the dark side when he spotted it.

Then I pushed it all together, and tied it up.

I placed halves of garlic cloves, from about 5-6 cloves, into holes I made in the meat using the point of a knife.

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I poured some olive oil in a large roasting pan and placed the lamb on the oil. Then I turned over the lamb, making sure it was covered with oil.

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After more garlic pepper and salt, I put the lamb in the oven that was preheated to 400 degrees.

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After 10 minutes I used large forks to turn it over. The other side browned in about 5 minutes.

I reduced the oven to 325 degrees. I think the old standard is ten minutes a pound, but I decided to use my oven probe to make sure the lamb cooks only to medium rare, or 125 degrees.

The thing is, when you use a probe, you actually have to listen for the beeping that tells you that the probe has reached the desired temperature. I, unfortunately, was not in the kitchen, so the oven went to HOLD and continued to cook my precious lamb roast.

When I realized that the lamb had been in the oven too long, I quickly took it out of the pan and let rest on a cutting board.

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When I sliced it, the lamb wasn’t terribly overcooked, but it certainly wasn’t medium rare, which is how I love it. This is not a mistake I haven’t made before – I’ve got quite a few burnt pots to prove that I get distracted easily when I’m cooking.

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If lamb is cooked properly, just like a filet mignon, it doesn’t need much!

I served the lamb with persillade and roasted tomatoes.

The persillade was also wonderful with the tomatoes.

The pinkest parts of the lamb were wonderful, probably because of the high quality of the meat.

Overall, I’m really disappointed in this book. I don’t think photos taken from an observer’s perspective does anyone any good when trying to learn an involved skill like meat butchering. I had better luck closing the book and using common sense.

By Published On: June 14th, 201653 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

53 Comments

  1. Nadia June 14, 2016 at 7:18 AM - Reply

    Your lamb looks absolutely delicious.
    You will need to buy a wireless thermometer. They apparently work beautifully.

    • chef mimi June 14, 2016 at 7:19 AM - Reply

      I have one! But I still forgot about the lamb in the oven!

      • Nadia June 14, 2016 at 8:44 AM

        Do you have the wireless one that you can simply put in your pocket and it has about a 100m radius. So you can be out gardening and have it in your pocket and it will buzz until you switch it off.

      • chef mimi June 14, 2016 at 10:32 AM

        Oh my gosh I have never heard of this. So smart! I’ll look into it immediately!

      • Nadia June 14, 2016 at 10:45 AM

        I think Williams Sonoma sells one.

      • chef mimi June 14, 2016 at 11:21 AM

        The only one they sell has bad reviews, so I found a good one on Amazon!!! Thanks again!

  2. Travel Gourmet June 14, 2016 at 7:19 AM - Reply

    Shame about the book but your lamb looks delicious even if cooked a little more than you like. The persillade and roast tomatoes look great with it :)

    • chef mimi June 14, 2016 at 7:21 AM - Reply

      They were a lovely combination. But a lot of the lamb went to the dogs. Literally!

  3. I am proud of you for trying ! I am entertaining two Parisian friends tonight and will make your persillade while my husband grills a rack of lamb.

  4. lovinghomemade June 14, 2016 at 8:17 AM - Reply

    Despite all your problems it still looks amazing and I bet it tasted even better. I completely see your point about the photos in the book, it doesn’t make any sense. My knives are no where near sharp enough to attempt any butchering, I always watch in awe when they do it on the tv!

    • chef mimi June 14, 2016 at 8:18 AM - Reply

      I know – it’s a really fascinating skill! Thank you for validating my issue with the photos!!!

  5. Fine Dining at Home (@fdathome) June 14, 2016 at 8:22 AM - Reply

    Hi Mimi, regardless of how things get butchered, being able to tie things like you have is a much better skill to have. It can hide all manner of evils. I still need to teach myself how to do it.

    The end product looks amazing.

    • chef mimi June 14, 2016 at 8:23 AM - Reply

      That’s so sweet!! Thank you! I still overcooked it though, which I’m STILL sad about. such a waste.

  6. apuginthekitchen June 14, 2016 at 8:53 AM - Reply

    You are brave, a beef tenderloin I could manage I think but de boning meat or poultry scares me. Your lamb roast is gorgeous and there is that delicious persillade. YUM.

    • chef mimi June 14, 2016 at 10:27 AM - Reply

      I think the good knife helped a lot. a scimitar. I got mine on Amazon and it wasn’t even expensive.

  7. Tasty Eats Ronit Penso June 14, 2016 at 9:06 AM - Reply

    What a beautiful roast. Just perfect! :)

    • chef mimi June 14, 2016 at 10:26 AM - Reply

      well, overcooked. it still hurts! but thank you!

      • Tasty Eats Ronit Penso June 14, 2016 at 11:20 AM

        I know you had some troubles with it, but it looks very tasty! :)

  8. A Cookbook Collection June 14, 2016 at 9:57 AM - Reply

    This looks delicious! Despite your problems with the book the rolled leg looks very cleanly done. I would love to do a butchery course too but I find YouTube great to get me through different kitchen dilemmas.

  9. Darya June 14, 2016 at 10:48 AM - Reply

    The lamb looks terrific! I think you are quite brave and daring to try deboning a leg of lamb on your own! I’ve deboned chicken legs, but for this, I’d just ask my butcher. Have you ever tried baking halved tomatoes with a topping of persillade and breadcrumbs? If you liked the combo, you’d probably love it that way!

    • chef mimi June 14, 2016 at 11:20 AM - Reply

      Yes I have cooked tomatoes like that and they’re fantastic! Thank you for reminding me, though!

  10. Conor Bofin June 14, 2016 at 2:10 PM - Reply

    I have a post written, for posting next Tuesday. It focuses on a step by step lamb leg butterfly. I can see why you are frustrated by the book.

  11. Marisa's Italian Kitchen June 14, 2016 at 5:33 PM - Reply

    Mimi, that lamb roast looks gorgeous! Wonderfully done :)

  12. anotherfoodieblogger June 14, 2016 at 9:07 PM - Reply

    I can completely see why you would be disappointed in that book. How on earth can you follow something in the third-person perspective, upside-down no less! Clearly an amateur photographer for the book. I am sure Conor’s treatise next week will be much clearer to you. Personally, I would eat the lamb cooked that way, though! It all looks lovely and delicious Mimi!

    • chef mimi June 14, 2016 at 10:15 PM - Reply

      Thank you. I was so disappointed and then I overcooked it, so then I was really sad!

    • chef mimi June 15, 2016 at 7:16 AM - Reply

      I should have been able to tell from the photos on the cover of the book, but I wasn’t really thinking. A terrible perspective though.

  13. chefceaser June 14, 2016 at 10:23 PM - Reply

    Reblogged this on Chef Ceaser and commented:
    Use Kosher Lamb or Kosher Goat.

    • chef mimi June 15, 2016 at 7:32 AM - Reply

      I honestly don’t know what that is, but I got the lamb from Lobel’s in NYC.

  14. Linda Duffin June 15, 2016 at 3:57 AM - Reply

    I’m with you on rare-ish lamb but it still looks very good. As a previous respondent said, YouTube videos can be good, once you get past the ads, the irritating music and the self-promotion (you can tell I’m a bit ambivalent!). Lx

  15. ladyredspecs June 15, 2016 at 4:45 AM - Reply

    I usually grill, BBQ, or broil butterflied deboned leg of lamb as a flat piece of meat rather than a roll. A marinade of mustard rosemary honey and garlic is delicious. It only needs about 30mins to med rare and ends up crisp and charry on the outside. Deboning is a delicate operation, I find a thin flexible blade deboning knife the easiest to manipulate. Keeping the blade angled to the bone is paramount and the other thing to remember is that practice makes perfect. A deboned leg of lamb is my very favourite cut…

    • chef mimi June 15, 2016 at 7:15 AM - Reply

      That’s exactly why I purchased my 10″ scimitar. Found it on Amazon and it was very useful. And sharp! Grilling sounds really lovely as well, especially with honey mustard!

  16. chezlerevefrancais June 15, 2016 at 11:33 AM - Reply

    I’m with you. Often instructions are too complicated and it’s better just figuring out yourself. I just pretend that it is how it’s supposed to be done! Looks lovely with the persillade… :)

  17. kitchenriffs June 15, 2016 at 12:01 PM - Reply

    I learned how to bone a leg of lamb from one of Julia Child’s books. She had some photos (taken from the observer’s point of view), but more important she had some drawings showing the bone structure. It was the drawings that really clicked with me. I think a lot of the older books are better in that regard — from the 50s through the 90s. They didn’t have YouTube as a crutch, so the books has to be complete. Anyway, love lamb! Good post — thanks.

    • chef mimi June 15, 2016 at 1:13 PM - Reply

      Interesting take! I’ll have to check that out – I own a few of her cookbooks. Thanks!

  18. David Scott Allen June 16, 2016 at 11:32 AM - Reply

    Your lamb looks fantastic despite the book not being a real help! You have inspired me to have lamb for dinner tonight, but probably just kebabs, as I won’t have time to roast (and it is over 100° out!).

    • chef mimi June 16, 2016 at 3:50 PM - Reply

      isn’t lamb fabulous?!! I’m the only one who eats it in my family.

  19. sa.fifer June 19, 2016 at 3:48 PM - Reply

    I’m so glad you reviewed that book–I was thinking of purchasing it, but if the photos aren’t from the butcher’s view it would be useless. Despite your difficulties, and your “overcooked” lamb still looks pretty good. (I prefer my lamb medium rare too.) I’ll certainly be checking out Conor Bofin’s post on butterflying!

    The tomatoes and the persillade look like just the thing to go with lamb.

    • chef mimi June 20, 2016 at 12:44 PM - Reply

      I’m glad I stopped you from buying the book! The photos really are worthless!

      • sa.fifer June 21, 2016 at 9:20 AM

        I’d love to find a butchery book with good photographs! If I find one, I’ll certainly post it!

  20. Frank Fariello June 22, 2016 at 8:27 AM - Reply

    Boneless leg of lamb is a truly delectable cut of meat, and you’ve roasted it to pink perfection! Wonderful also butterflied and grilled like a tagliata…

  21. Paul Palop July 18, 2016 at 10:47 PM - Reply

    Well, you surely did an amazing job in the end, it looks delicious… I can say that de-boning anything is really hard and takes lots and lots of practice to get it right. I only do it every now and then and it’s like learning all over again. The only reference book I own on trimming and cutting meat has the same issue with the photos but as a reference it’s not bad.

    • chef mimi July 19, 2016 at 7:29 AM - Reply

      That’s very interesting. Maybe you should write a book and do the photos properly! Love that heart photo, btw.

      • Paul Palop July 19, 2016 at 10:27 AM

        hahahah! :) I have a gopro camera, I could mount it on my head and shoot the whole session in HD!

      • chef mimi July 19, 2016 at 10:29 AM

        well… you could!

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