Roast Lemon Yogurt Lamb

Roast Lemon Yogurt Lamb

Spring coincides with Easter, both occasions often celebrated around the table. For me, Mediterranean-inspired dishes, pencil-thin asparagus and roast lamb herald the advent of both occasions.

Lamb lovers are fond of debating which area of the world produces the best lamb. California, Colorado, Vermont, perhaps? Australia and New Zealand are also contenders for the coveted “best lamb” prize. Many locals, however, think that award should be bestowed on Lamb Farm in Washtenaw County.

Lamb Farm is nestled on 250 acres in Manchester by the Raisin River, the bucolic, rolling acreage especially well-suited for pasture-raised lambs.

I recently visited John and Suzanne Smucker’s farm wondering if Lamb Farm was an “organic” farm, and asking what that precisely meant regarding farming and raising animals.

“There is so much more to this farm than just being ‘organic’, ” said John. “Organic can mean an animal is put in a small pen its entire life and only fed grain. Industrial organic farms provide their marketing departments the generic ‘organic’ name to label an entire herd of livestock as a selling point.”

“Sustainable agriculture for us means not pushing the limit. It all begins with the soil. To have healthy animals you must have healthy soil for quality grass to grow; our lamb and beef are grass-fed.”

It’s easy to connect the dots: Healthy soil yields healthy grass, yields healthy animals, yields healthy food and finally (whew!) healthy people. Not to mention a delectable eating experience!

Leg of lamb is very easy to prepare. I’m supplying a delicious recipe I found on-line and tested, but truthfully the most essential ingredient for perfect leg of lamb, bone-in or boneless, is a properly calibrated, instant-read oven thermometer. A perfectly adaquate thermometer will set you back around $6, and it’s well worth the expense.

Short on time? A simple seasoning mix of kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, chopped garlic and rosemary is perfect to rub over lamb before roasting.

The recipe I used would be wonderful with boneless or bone-in leg of lamb. I used a boneless leg of lamb for easier carving, but missed the bone, which provides additional meat scraps and flavor for savory Lamb and Lentil soup!

Boneless and butterflied leg of lamb are perfect for roasting and easy to carve. The meat is sometimes wrapped together in a plastic net to hold it in place, but I always remove this before roasting. I unroll the meat, season and often marinate it, then roll it back up, tying it at 1-inch intervals before roasting.

Arbor Farms is the perfect-sized independent grocery to carry the full line of lamb and also beef from Lamb Farms.

Recipe: Roast Lemon Yogurt Lamb


  • 1 1/2 cups (18 ounces) plain yogurt, strained yogurt preferred
  • 1/2 cup (apx. 3 lemons) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1 large white onion, sliced
  • 1 (5 1/2 pound) boneless leg of lamb


  1. In a non-reactive pan large enough to accommodate lamb, combine yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, nutmeg and cloves. Stir in onions.
  2. Remove plastic netting from lamb, if necessary, and open. Liberally season both sides of lamb with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper and place in pan with yogurt. Spread yogurt and onion mixture evenly over lamb. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.
  3. Remove lamb from refrigeration and let come to room temperature.
  4. Preheat oven to 325˚.
  5. Wipe excess yogurt from lamb and place in a well-oiled roasting pan or baking dish on top of onions.
  6. On center rack of oven, roast lamb ,uncovered, until thickest part of lamb registers 130˚-135˚ on an instant-read oven thermometer for rare lamb, 145-150˚ for medium-rare to medium cooked lamb. (Note your pieces of lamb on the exterior will be cooked further than the interior.)
  7. Let lamb rest at least 10 minutes before carving.

Recipe adapted from a recipe by Michael Fields which won the American Lamb Council’s “Food Editors’ Choice” Recipe Contest in 1989. It also appeared in a recipe collection that Barbara Kafka prepared to benefit the James Beard Foundation and in Gael Green’s book “Insatiable”.

Active Time: 20 minutes

Marinate Time: 12-24 hours

Roast Time: 1 1/2-2 1/2 hours

Rest Time: 10 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 8-10 servings

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

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