Tapenade Crusted Leg of Lamb

Serves 6 to 8

Time: Five hours

Prep: 30 minutes

Active time: 1 hour


Other lamb is cheaper, but take advantage of Oregon’s prowess with one of its largest production yet strangely overlooked local foods, lamb. This will also work with beef roasts to good effect if you’re not a lamb person, but really, if you’re not a lamb person, become one soon. You’re missing out on one of life’s great pleasures.



6 to 8 pound boneless leg of lamb


3 Tbsp canola or other high temperature

  cooking oil


½ Cup olive tapenade (there are plenty of excellent jarred examples; find one with anchovies if you can)

8 cloves garlic, minced

Salt & pepper to taste



Preheat the oven to 275º.


Open up the lamb leg and remove any big globs of fat. Season with a little salt and a lot of pepper and let sit at room temperature for at least a half hour while you prepare the tapenade seasoning.


Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium low temperature. When shimmering, add the tapenade and stir gently, cooking just until it turns a little runny and it starts giving off its pungent aroma. Add garlic, stir again, remove from heat and let cool until you can handle the tapenade with your bare hands.


When sufficiently cool, spread the tapenade evenly over the inside and outside of the lamb, seasoning with additional salt and pepper if you think it needs it (it probably does). Roll up and tie as tight as you can. At this point you can let the lamb sit an hour or so to develop more flavor (or as long as overnight, really) or roast immediately.


Place lamb on a rack in a roasting pan and roast until the center of it reads 125º, about two hours. Remove and let rest for at least a half hour. Just before serving, raise oven to 450º and roast until a dark crust forms, about ten minutes. Remove to a cutting board and let rest for ten minutes until carving into ¼” thick slices to be served with hot crusty bread and wilted greens. Leftovers make unreal lamb and Gruyère sandwiches.