Victoria's Lamb with Herbs and Olive Oil
- 1 (5 to 6 pound) Spring leg of lamb (fresh or frozen, if frozen, defrost)
- 1/2 cup whole garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup whole peppercorns (generous use of this will make it spicier)
- 1 cup chopped rosemary
- 1/4 cup sea salt or kosher salt (should be coarse)
- 2 cans ripe pitted olives, in their juice
- Stuffed Grape Leaves:
- 2 1/2 cups al dente white rice, cooked and cooled
- 1 large bunch medium washed and finely chopped parsley
- 2 large white onions finely chopped
- 2/3 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Medium jar grape leaves
- 1/4 olive oil
- 3/4 cup lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a mortar with a pestle grind garlic, peppercorns, rosemary and salt with a pestle until a well blended poultice. Trim excess fat from lamb. Rub olive oil onto the leg of lamb. Scoop out the poultice from the mortar and pack it completely around the leg of lamb. Make sure the leg is "sealed" with the poultice to keep in the flavor. Place the lamb into a roasting pan and pour in 1 or 2 cans (depending on size of roasting pan) ripe pitted olives in their juice. The lamb should be swimming in about 1-inch of juice.
Put roasting pan in the oven and roast for 45 to 1 hour, depending on size and density of lamb. The lamb must not be over-cooked. Serve it pink.
For the Stuffed Grape Leaves: Add to the cooked and cooled white rice the parsley, white onions, lemon juice and olive oil and then blend. After blending these ingredients estimate adding a large tablespoon for each leaf.
Lay the de-stemmed and rinsed grape leaf shiny side down, place portion of rice mixture in the center near the stem end and roll keeping stuffing close to end of leaf. Start folding in the sides and continue to roll keeping ends closed and stuffing secure inside.
Lay "stem" down (the end of the roll) in a flat pan and continue doing so until each one is side by side close together, keeping them from opening when cooking. You can often place at least 2 layers if making large amounts, but more layering is not recommended. Pour over leaves enough water to reach top layer only and bring to a boil and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes. Add more water only, if necessary, so as not to burn the leaves. Water should all be evaporated in this period of time if not, drain remaining water.
Remove from burner and let cool for about 1/2 hour.
Then transfer in single layers into flat pans and pour over a mixture of lemon and olive oil and place in refrigerator cool and marinate overnight or at least several hours before serving. Can be stored for at least 2 to 3 days in refrigerator.
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Recipe courtesy Victoria Natkin Woodbeck