Enjoy this delicious grilled leg of lamb with walnut-pomegranate sauce from Chef Trent Page!
For the Lamb:
- 1 boneless leg of lamb (5 to 6 pounds)
- 3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
For the Walnut-Pomegranate Sauce:
- 1 tablespoon coriander seed
- 1 teaspoon cumin seed
- 1 teaspoon allspice berries
- 4 bay leaves
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 6 fresh Roma tomatoes, roasted, skinned and seeds removed
- 4 fresh red bell peppers, roasted, skinned, and seeds and membranes removed
- 1 head roasted garlic, approximately 12 cloves
- 1/2 cup lightly toasted California walnuts
- 2 tablespoons fresh pomegranate juice
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
- 1 teaspoon harissa, or sambal olek
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil plus additional to adjust flavor and consistency if necessary
- 2 cups fresh arugula, for garnish (optional)
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint chiffonade, for garnish
- 1/2 cup toasted California walnuts, for garnish
- 1/4 cup pomegranate arils, for garnish
- Pat the lamb leg dry with paper towels and rub all over with the olive oil. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper making certain to coat all of the surfaces. Allow the leg to sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Thirty minutes before you’re ready to cook the lamb, preheat the grill or oven to 450°F.
- To use a gas or charcoal grill, preheat one side/area of the grill to approximately 450°F, while keeping a second side/area cooler, about 350°F. When it is hot, place the leg on the hot side of the grill and sear 5 to 6 minutes per flat surface or “side,” until nicely charred. Move the leg to the cooler side of the grill and continue to cook, covered, until it reaches 135°F degrees, approximately 20 minutes per pound. Begin checking the temperature after 1 hour, to get a sense of how quickly the meat is cooking.
- To roast the lamb, place it on the rack of a roasting pan lined with foil. Put the pan in the middle of the oven and roast 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 325°F and continue roasting until a meat thermometer inserted in the center or thickest part of the roast registers 135°F. Allow 20 to 25 minutes cooking time per pound, or a total of approximately 2 hours for a 5 to 6 pound leg. Begin checking the temperature after 1-1/2 hours, to get a sense of how quickly the meat is cooking.
- Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a small sauté pan or cast iron skillet, lightly toast the coriander and cumin seeds, and allspice berries. Once they’ve darkened slightly and are aromatic, remove them to a bowl to cool. Return the pan to the heat and toast the bay leaves. When they’re very lightly browned, add them to the bowl with the other spices and lightly coat the pan with olive oil. Once the pan is hot, add the tomato paste and cook stirring constantly until it produces a roasted tomato aroma. (You’re trying to cook the raw tomato flavor out of the paste.) Set aside to cool.
- Using a mortar and pestle, or the bottom of a heavy pan, crush the coriander and cumin seeds and allspice berries before adding them to the jar of a blender or bowl of a food processor. Crush the bay leaves and add them, along with the cooled tomato paste, roasted tomatoes and red peppers, roasted garlic, walnuts, pomegranate juice and molasses, and harissa. Blend or puree in quick bursts, scraping the sides of the blender or food processor bowl with a spatula to redistribute the ingredients and allow them to blend more uniformly. When no large chunks remain, begin to drizzle in the olive oil, stopping occasionally to move the ingredients around with a spatula. After all of the olive oil has been added, adjust the thickness with water, if necessary. The sauce should be similar in appearance, color and consistency to Romesco, the classic Spanish sauce.
- After removing it from the oven, allow the lamb leg to to rest at least 15 minutes, loosely covered with foil. To serve, slice the leg and arrange it on a platter with the sauce underneath, or spooned over the sliced lamb. Garnish the platter with arugula, if desired. Sprinkle the chiffonade of mint, pomegranate arils and toasted walnuts around the platter and serve.