Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

How to Cook a Leg of Lamb

print recipe card posted in Main Dishes by Kathy Maister

I was inspired to roast a leg of lamb after Ioannis Michanetzis (a fan of startcooking.com) sent me his recipe for a marinated, roasted leg of lamb.

Ioannis, an Officer in the Greek Navy, is currently a ship’s captain, with aspirations to have a cooking site specializing in healthy and unique Mediterranean Dishes.

Ioannis’s original recipe was a bit more involved than the recipe I’m doing here, but I would like to thank him for giving me the opportunity (and permission) to adapt one of his specialties for startcooking.com readers.


At my grocery store, there were two choices of leg of lamb being offered. Both were from Australia.

I am going to demonstrate how to cook the smaller 5-pound boneless roast shown on the top in the picture above. The larger 9-pound roast on the bottom is a “bone-in” cut. For beginner cooks, the smaller boneless roast is easier to carve. Besides, it just fit into my 15-inch long roasting pan, and my larger roasting pan is not as photogenic!

The steps involved in making this boneless leg of lamb are:

  1. Make a “spice-rub” with garlic, thyme, rosemary, oregano and black pepper.
  2. Rub it all over the roast.
  3. Put the roast in a plastic bag
  4. Pour fresh lemon juice, olive oil and wine over the roast in the bag
  5. Put the bag in the refrigerator to marinate for several hours or overnight.
  6. Remove the lamb from the bag and roast it in the oven.

The Marinade

(Marinate is the verb, and marinade is the noun. So, you marinate the lamb with a marinade. Got it? Who’s on first?)

Step 1. First make a spice-rub by measuring out:

  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons of dry oregano
  • 2 teaspoons of dry thyme
  • 2 teaspoons of dry rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper

Put these ingredients into a small bowl…

…and mix everything together

Now, for the liquid part of the marinade, measure out:

  • 1/2 cup (4 oz.) of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz.) of lemon juice, fresh squeezed
  • 2 cups (16 oz.) of dry red wine

My wine merchant suggested a very reasonably priced Merlot ($8) for the dry red wine.

The Boneless Leg of Lamb

(FYI – It’s just the hind legs that are used for “leg of lamb”)

Rather than working directly on the counter top, I set the lamb down on some paper towels on a baking sheet. This is more sanitary.

Cut the plastic outer wrapping off the lamb, making sure not to cut through the netting as well. (If you bought your lamb at a butcher shop, it may well be hand-tied with string instead of netting.) The netting (or string) holds the lamb together in that nice shape. Do not remove it until after the lamb is roasted.

Step 2. Rub the garlic dry-rub spice mixture all over the lamb.

Step 3. Put the lamb in a large plastic bag and set it on a dish. I used a two gallon sized zip-lock bag. (You need the dish just in case the bag leaks when you put it in your refrigerator. You wouldn’t want the marinade to spill all over the inside of your refrigerator!)

Step 4. Pour the lemon juice, olive oil and red wine over the lamb (in the bag.)

Squeeze out as much of the air as possible from the bag, and seal it closed. As a precaution against the bag leaking, wrap a second bag around the marinating lamb.

Step 5. Set the bag in a dish and let the lamb marinate in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight -up to 24 hours.

Step 6. Roasting the Boneless Leg of Lamb

Remove the lamb from the refrigerator at least 1 hour before cooking it.

Preheat the oven to 450 F. degrees.

( 450º F = 230º C = gas mark 9)

Snip the corner of the bag and squeeze the marinade out into the sink. It will no longer be usable.

Pat the lamb dry with paper towels.

Put 2 teaspoons of salt and 3/4 teaspoons of freshly ground pepper into a dish. Season the entire lamb with the salt and pepper. (You put the salt and pepper into a separate dish first for sanitary reasons. You would not want to be going back and forth between touching the raw lamb and your main salt and pepper holders.)

Place the lamb on a roasting rack in a roasting pan.

Insert an oven-safe meat thermometer into the thickest part of the boneless leg of lamb.

(I strongly recommend using an oven-proof meat thermometer for roasting a leg of lamb. This should allow you to peek through the window of your oven door without opening the door and changing the internal temperature of the oven. Every time you open the oven door, it takes a good ten minutes for the temperature to get back to its original setting)

Set the lamb into the 450-degree oven and roast for 20 minutes.

( 450º F = 230º C = gas mark 9)

After the 20 minutes, lower the temperature to 325º Fdegrees ( 325º F = 165º C = gas mark 3-very moderate) and continue cooking the lamb until the internal temperature is to your liking.

Approximate Roasting Time for a 5-7 pound Boneless Leg of Lamb:

(Source: United State Department of Agriculture)

Lamb Leg, boneless, rolled:

Roast 325°






Rare20 to 25 min./lb135 F.

(57.2 C)

Medium-rare25 to 30 min./lb145 F.

(62.8 C)


(to medium well)

30 to 35min./lb.160 F

(72.0 C)

Well done*35 to 40 min./lb170 F

(77.0 C.)

*Most people avoid cooking lamb to “well done”. It will be tough and dry.

There are several factors that will affect the cooking time:

  • The shape of the roast
  • The internal temperature when you first put it in the oven
  • Bone-in roast will require extra cooking time
  • Fluctuations in temperature of your own oven.

My 5 pound Leg of Lamb was removed from the oven when the internal temperature of the Lamb reached 140 F. degrees – medium rare.
It took a total of 1 and 1/2 hours to cook, which was considerably less time than what the USDA guidelines had recommended.

This is why a meat thermometer is absolutely essential when you are cooking a roast.

When the meat is cooked, remove it from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes. The temperature will increase by about 5 degrees while the roast is resting out of the oven.

With a pair of kitchen scissors cut through the netting (or string)….

…..and remove it completely.

Slice the lamb into 1/2 inch thick slices across the grain. (Here and here are very some very good pictures that show how to carve a bone-in Leg of Lamb.)

I roasted some carrots and small red potatoes separately….

….and served them with this Boneless Leg of Lamb.


Approximate Lamb Cooking Times:

Source: USDA Last modified – May 2007

Cut of Lamb Size Cooking Method Cooking Time Internal Temperature(Fahrenheit / Celsius-Centigrade))
Lamb Leg, bone in 5 to 7 lbs. Roast 325°(165º C) 20 to 25 min./lb. Medium rare 145°F / 43.5°C
25 to 30 min./lb. Medium160°F /56.9°C
30 to 35 min./lb. Well done170°F / 62.4°C
7 to 9 lbs. Roast 325° 15 to 20 min./lb. Medium rare 145°F / 43.5°C
20 to 25 min./lb Medium160°F / 56.9°C
25 to 30 min./lb. Well done170°F / 62.4°C
Lamb Leg, boneless, rolled 4 to 7 lbs. Roast 325° 25 to 30 min./lb. Medium rare 145°F / 43.5°C
30 to 35 min./lb. Medium160°F / 56.9°C
35 to 40 min./lb. Well done 170°F / 62.4°C
Shoulder Roast or Shank Leg Half 3 to 4 lbs. Roast 325° 30 to 35 min./lb. Medium rare 145°F / 43.5°C
40 to 45 min./lb. Medium160°F / 56.9°C
45 to 50 min./lb. Well done170°F / 62.4°C
Cubes, for Kabobs 1 to 1½” Broil/Grill 8 to 12 minutes Medium160°F / 56.9°C
Ground Lamb Patties 2″ thick Broil/Grill 5 to 8 minutes Medium °160°F / 56.9C
Chops, Rib, or Loin 1 to 1½” thick Broil/Grill 7 to 11 minutes Medium rare 145°F / 43.5°C
15 to 19 minutes Medium160°F / 56.9°C
Leg Steaks ¾” thick Broil/Grill 4″ from heat 14 to 18 minutes Medium rare 145°F / 43.5°C
Medium160°F / 56.9°C
Stew Meat, pieces 1 to 1½” Cover with liquid; simmer 1½ to 2 hours Medium160°F / 56.9°C
Shanks ¾ to 1 lb.
Breast, Rolled 1½ to 2 lb. *Braise 325° 1½ to 2 hours Medium160°F / 56.9°C

*Braising is roasting or simmering less-tender meats with a small amount of liquid in a tightly covered pan.

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Fettuccine Alfredo

print recipe card posted in Main Dishes by Kathy Maister

Once you try this recipe, you will never buy pre-made Alfredo sauce again! It is totally decadent and off the charts delicious – full of so much flavor and richness that you totally need to spend extra time on the treadmill after eating this Fettuccine Alfredo!

To make Fettuccine Alfredo, you will first have to know how to cook the pasta. For a quick review, check out my “How to Cook Pasta” video.

In addition to the 1 pound (450g.) of dried fettuccine, the only other ingredients needed to make this recipe are:

    • 8 Tablespoons (113 g.) of unsalted butter
    • 1 cup (235 g.) of heavy cream
    • 1 cup (120 g.) of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Follow the directions on the back of the package of pasta that you bought and be sure to add plenty of salt to the cooking water.

While the pasta is cooking, grate the parmesan cheese

Parmesan cheese

…measure out the heavy cream and cut the butter into tablespoon size chunks (to make it easier to melt.)

When the pasta is cooked, pour it into a colander and let the water drain off.

While the pasta is draining, over low heat, melt the butter in the same pot you cooked the pasta in.

Return the drained pasta to the pot with the melted butter.

Add the cream….

…and the grated parmesan cheese.

Toss everything together over low heat until the pasta is coated with the cream, butter and the cheese.

Add some freshly ground pepper. (You can use white pepper if you have it but black pepper is fine to use as well.)

Give the Fettuccine Alfredo a taste to see if it needs salt. Some brands of Parmesan cheese are saltier than others, so give it a taste before automatically adding in the salt.

That’s it! Time to enjoy!

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Tuna Salad Sandwich

print recipe card posted in Lunch by Kathy Maister

The ever popular tuna salad sandwich is a standard on almost every sandwich shop menu. Clearly making your own tuna salad is a much more economical option than continuing to support your local deli!

Buying Canned Tuna

One 6-to-7 oz. can of tuna will give you two good-sized sandwiches. One 6-to-7 oz. can of tuna can cost anywhere from approximately 89 cents to a high of about $3.00 depending on where you shop and the type you buy. Cans that say albacore tend to be more expensive than the ones that just say tuna.

When buying tuna, you are going to have to do some taste-testing to find your favorite tuna. The first thing to decide is do you want it packed in oil or water. Some people say there aren’t that many calories in oil-packed tuna, and they think oil adds to the taste. Others don’t like the taste of oily tuna fish, so they choose water packed tuna. Not all tuna from a can has the same texture. You may want to try different types and brands to find the one you like the best.

When I made my Salad Nicoise I splurged and bought imported tuna in a jar (shown below with some capers). The chunky imported tuna, packed in olive oil, was expensive ($7) but worth every bite.


Plus the imported tuna looked fantastic in my Salad Nicoise! For tuna salad sandwiches, stick to the less expensive tuna from the can.


Salad Nicoise

Making Tuna Salad

To make 2 tuna salad sandwiches you will need:

  • 1-6-7 ounce can of tuna
  • 1/4 cup of celery
  • 3-4 Tablespoons of mayonnaise
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Bread

Both the oil and the water packed tuna need to be drained. The safest way is to do this is to put the tuna in a colander.

A second way of draining the tuna is after opening the can, press the lid into the can, so that all the water or oil drains out. You can do this right into the sink. (Be careful of the sharp edges on the lid of the can!)

Using a fork put the tuna in a small mixing bowl. Then break apart the tuna with the fork.

Wash one stalk of celery. Trim off the ends and cut it into thirds. Then cut each third into strips.

Line up the strips and start dicing the celery into 1/8 inch bits. (Dice means to cut into tiny pieces. It is smaller than “chop” and larger than “mince”.) Add the celery to the tuna.

Measure out slightly less than 1/4 cup of mayonnaise and add it to the tuna. The amount of celery and mayonnaise is totally adjustable to your taste. Mix everything together. Taste it and you decide if you want to add a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Lay two slices of bread on the cutting board. Put 1/2 of the tuna on one slice of bread and maybe even some lettuce if you have some in the refrigerator.

Put the second slice of bread on top.

Using a bread knife (one with a jagged or serrated edge) slice the sandwich in half using a sawing motion. Try adding potato chips and dill pickles on the side. They taste great with tuna salad!

Many different types of bread go well with tuna. Pita pockets are a fun alternative to slices of bread. To fill the pocket first cut the pita round in half.

You could then just stuff the pita with the tuna. I like to put the tuna on a lettuce leaf.

Then slide the tuna filled leaf of lettuce right into the bread.

It comes out picture perfect every time!


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