Tuesday, January 03, 2006


• 1 5- to 6-lb leg of lamb, trimmed of excess fat
• 2 medium-sized garlic cloves, peeled and cut lengthwise into paper-thin slivers
• 1 c brandy
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• 1½ tbsp salt
• 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
¼ c dry sherry
¼ c dry white wine

With the point of a small sharp knife, cut a dozen or more 1-inch deep slits all over the surface of the leg of lamb and insert a sliver of garlic into each slit. Cut double thickness of cheesecloth about 16 inches wide and 18 to 20 inches long and drench it thoroughly with ½ c of the brandy. Wrap the cheesecloth around the leg of lamb and cover it tightly with plastic wrap to prevent the brandy from evaporating. Set the lamb aside to marinate at room temperature for about 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 450°. Mix the cumin, salt and pepper together in a small bowl, and combine the sherry and white wine in another bowl. Unwrap the lamb and place the leg, fat side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Press the cumin mixture into the surface of the lamb, coating the meat with the spices as evenly as possible. For the most predictable results, insert a meat thermometer 2 inches into the thickest part of the leg, being careful not to touch the bone.

Roast the lamb in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 350° and baste with a tablespoon or so of the wine mixture. Continue to roast 40 to 60 minutes longer, or until the leg is cooked to your taste, basting two or three more times with the remaining wine mixture. A meat thermometer will register 130° when the lamb is rare, 140° when medium, and 150° when well done.

Transfer the lamb to a heated platter and let the roast rest for 15 minutes for easier carving. Just before serving, warm the remaining ½ c of brandy in a small saucepan. Ignite the brandy with a match and pour it flaming over the lamb. When the flame dies, serve at once.

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