This unusual dish is really delicious. You will need a leg of lamb to make it, along with apricots, Moroccan seasonings, garlic and onions. The dried apricots wrapped in the lamb are going to soften and swell during cooking for a fabulous result. Although this lamb can also be cooked in the oven, the absolute best way to cook it in on the barbeque because the smoky accent it adds is really special. The resulting lamb will be moist and tender, offering a delicate Moroccan flavor because of the lovely seasonings, plus the charm of the apricots. Leftover lamb is wonderful the following day served cold with a couscous salad.
What is Ras-el-hanout?
Ras-el-hanout is a spice mix from Morocco which you can get from some grocery stores or a Middle Eastern market. If you cannot get it, you can easily make your own by combining ½ teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg and black pepper, 1 teaspoon each of coriander, cardamom, turmeric and ginger, and ¼ teaspoon each of cloves, mace and allspice. ½ teaspoon of saffron can also be added but it is optional. The resulting mixture is aromatic and typically Middle Eastern. It is beautiful with the sweet apricots. Something else you can do with this spice mix is add a pinch to rice or couscous while it is cooking. Serve that as a tasty side dish with any meat or fish you like.
An Optional Sauce
Although the recipe made as written does not feature a sauce, if you do want to prepare a sauce to go with the lamb it is easy enough. The marinade can be boiled briefly to kill any bacteria, then add some plain yogurt, light cream and a pinch of salt. Blend it into a smooth sauce and serve it with the finished lamb. If you do not fancy that, the lamb is moist enough not to really need a sauce, so it is your choice.
Making this dish is very simple. You will need a boneless leg of lamb weighing somewhere between 4 and 5 pounds. Butterfly it, which means you can open it out like a book afterwards, and take off any excess fat. You do not have to get every last tiny piece of fat off (because after all, fat contributes to flavor) but do get the larger bits off. You do not want those. The lamb then needs to be marinated, so make cuts in it all over it, allowing the marinade to penetrate right into the lovely meat, and then add your marinade, which is made with garlic, onions and the ras-el-hanout.
The lamb can be marinated for up to 24 hours, but allow at least 6 hours of marinating, so it can pick up the lovely flavors. Wipe off the marinade and discard it, or else use it to make the sauce described above if you would rather do that. The lamb can then be cooked indirectly on the barbeque until it is done, and that will take a couple of hours, maybe 1½ hours if the leg of lamb is small, or 2½ hours if it is bigger. The exact time also depends on the heat of the barbeque, so use a meat thermometer to ensure it gets to 140 degrees F inside.
- 1 boneless leg of lamb (4 - 5 lbs)
- 1½ cups dried Blenheim apricot halves
- 2 roughly chopped small onions
- 5 roughly chopped garlic cloves
- ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons ras-el-hanout
- Butterfly the lamb and trim off any excess fat.
- Rinse it and dry on paper towels.
- Make ½ inch deep cuts an inch apart all over the lamb, on both sides.
- Season with 1½ teaspoons of the salt.
- Put it in a baking dish.
- Put ½ cup of oil and ½ cup of water in the blender with the garlic, onions, ras-el-hanout, and the other 1½ teaspoons of salt.
- Pulse to make a loose paste, then pour this over the lamb in the baking dish.
- Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 6 hours.
- Prepare the barbeque for indirect cooking and coat the grates with olive oil.
- You will need it to get to about 325 degrees F.
- Meanwhile, take the lamb out of the refrigerator and give it about 45 minutes to reach room temperature.
- Wipe off the marinade.
- Arrange the apricot halves in one layer on the meat, leaving a ½ inch border all around.
- Roll it up like a jelly-roll and use kitchen twine to tight it.
- Rub the rest of the oil over the lamb and put it on the barbeque.
- Let it cook indirectly (not the hottest part of the barbeque) for 2 hours or until done, flipping once.
- It is done when an instant-read thermometer shows 140 degrees F for medium rare.
- Take the lamb off the barbeque, cover it with foil, and let it rest for 15 minutes.
- Slice and serve the lamb.
Leg of lamb is marinated, stuffed and barbequed, and the results are so good you will want to make extra and enjoy them cold the following day, like the girl in the photo is doing! You will need Blenheim apricots (also known as Royal apricots) to make this, because they taste better than other apricot varieties. Ras-el-hanout offers a distinctive taste of the Middle East, where lamb is a popular meat, and you can either buy it or make your own by mixing a few spices together. This is easy to prepare and the flavor is phenomenal. This leg of lamb recipe is just so delicious.
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