Spit-roasted Leg of Lamb over Grits and Tomatoes
I have been meaning to share a rotisserie recipe, and the time has finally come. I cooked this lamb on the spit with an apple wood fire going in the grill down below, but you can certainly use an infrared rotisserie burner for a more conventional approach.
- 2 heads garlic, peeled
- Leaves picked from 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 1 teaspoon salt (I used Alder-smoked sea salt)
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon whole coriander
- 1 boneless leg of lamb, 3 1/2 to 4 pounds
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 2 red onions
- 2 pints mixed heirloom cherry tomatoes
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 1/4 cup vegetable broth
- Large cast-iron Dutch oven or roasting pan (large enough to sit below the lamb leg and catch the drippings)
- 1 cup (dry) yellow corn grits
- 2 cups water
- Perforated grilling pan
- 1 tablespoon butter (optional)
- 1 tablespoon flour (optional)
Combine the first six ingredients in a food processor and process to a medium-fine texture.
If the lamb came from the butcher in an elastic net, remove and discard the net and re-tie with butcher’s twine. Skewer the leg onto the rotisserie rod and secure with forks. Brush the lamb with olive oil, and then coat with the seasoning blend, pressing the seasoning into the meat with your hands. Let the lamb rest and rise to room temperature for about 45 minutes.
Prepare the grill for rotisserie cooking with high heat. You can either use an infrared rotisserie burner or a fire down below in the grill. I prefer a wood fire for lamb.
Cut up the onions into “petals.” Place in the cast iron pan along with the tomatoes, red wine and vegetable broth. Toss to coat.
Mount the rotisserie rod into the grill. Place the pan with the tomatoes and onions below the lamb to catch the drippings. Turn on the rotisserie, close the hood, and cook until the lamb is browned on the outside and rare to medium-rare on the inside. Depending on your equipment and setup, this can take 45 to 90 minutes.
Once the lamb has started, get ready to make the grits. Follow the instructions on the packaging for preparing grits from 1 cup of the dry grain. Pre-heat the water now so it can quickly come to a boil when the lamb is done. Wait to cook the grits until the lamb is resting.
I prefer my lamb towards rare, so I remove it from the grill when the internal temperature reads 120ºF. Check the temperature after 45 minutes to avoid over-cooking, and make sure you don’t touch the rotisserie rod with the thermometer, or it may throw off the reading. When done, remove the spit from the grill and let the lamb rest while you finish the rest of the dish. It is best to suspend the lamb rather than letting the weight of the rod push the meat into a cutting board.
If you cooked the lamb using a rotisserie burner, turn off that burner and fire up the grill for direct grilling over high heat. Place a perforated grilling pan over the fire. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the tomatoes and onions to the grilling pan. Whisk the drippings and liquids left behind in the cast iron pan to start a sauce. If you wish to thicken the sauce, start a quick roux in a separate pan using the optional flour and butter. Once the roux is cooked to light brown, whisk it into the sauce. Keep the sauce warm in a cooler part of the grill while the tomatoes and onions continue over high heat.
Prepare the grits.
Remove the lamb from the spit and slice it. Plate by first laying down a little of the red wine sauce. Top with a mound of grits to one side and the roasted tomatoes and onions to the other side. Add the lamb and enjoy.