Your First Big Roast

All week we’re sharing the 101 versions of recipes for foods you thought were too hard to make but TOTALLY AREN’T. Yesterday, we encouraged you to bake Your First Loaf. Today, you’re tackling a big roast.


Photo credit: Marcus Nilsson

You’ve trussed a pork loin to serve a small group, sure. But a big honkin’ bone-in piece of meat that could serve twelve people? That’s another story.

"Honestly, I have not been a big lamb fan in the past," says Bon Appétit senior food editor Dawn Perry, “so developing this recipe was a way for me to like it.” While yes, the recipe deals with lamb, it’s a template for many kinds of sizable (read: expensive) roasts. From it, you can learn five things that will make the endeavor less intimidating:

1. You have to prep it ahead, letting it sit in some kind of seasoning for “eight hours, better up to a day.” So when it comes to the day-of, all you have to do is turn on the oven; the prep has been done.

2. There are no measurements required. “It’s a great big piece of meat, so a big challenge was how to get all that flavor in there,” says Perry. “One answer is to is let it rest with the rub on; the second is to get aggressive with the seasoning. When you salt it, really go for it.”

3. Once it’s seasoned, there’s not much else to do but cook it. “You’re kind of hands-off after that,” says Perry.

4. There’s no need to de-bone. “Keeping the bone in is good for presentation—it’s super impressive—but it also keeps the meat moist and adds flavor,” says Perry. “And in fact, it’s easier because you don’t have to do anything.”

5. And the cherry on top: Start at a lower temperature and finish on high heat for a good crust. “That last 20-25 minutes at high heat is the difference between super-tasty shellacked, glazed meat and just another roast.”

Honey-Vinegar Leg of Lamb with Fennel and Carrots
from Bon Appétit, October 2013
Serves 12

2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, crushed
½ cup fennel fronds plus more for serving
½ cup olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lb 7–9 lb. bone-in leg of lamb, tied
½ cup red wine vinegar
⅓ cup honey
4 fennel bulbs, sliced ½” thick
16 small carrots (about 2 lb.), unpeeled, halved lengthwise if large

1. Pulse garlic, parsley, fennel seeds, and ½ cup fennel fronds in a food processor until very finely chopped. With motor running, slowly add ¼ cup oil and process until smooth; season generously with salt and pepper (mixture should taste quite salty as this is the only seasoning meat will get). Rub parsley mixture all over lamb. Transfer to a roasting pan, cover, and chill at least 8 hours.

2. Let lamb sit at room temperature 1 hour. Bring vinegar and honey to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 8–10 minutes. Set glaze aside.

3. Place racks in lower third and middle of oven and preheat to 325°. Toss fennel and carrots with remaining ¼ cup oil in a medium bowl and arrange half around lamb in roasting pan; place remaining vegetables on a rimmed baking sheet.

4. Roast vegetables on baking sheet on lower rack and lamb on middle rack until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of lamb registers 100°, about 1 hour.

5. Increase oven temperature to 450°, brush roast with glaze, and continue to roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 120°, 20–25 minutes longer. Transfer lamb to a cutting board and let rest 30 minutes before carving (temperature will rise to 140° for medium-rare while lamb is resting).

6. Continue to roast vegetables, tossing occasionally, until golden and tender, 20–25 minutes longer.

7. Serve lamb with vegetables, topped with fennel fronds.

DO AHEAD: Lamb can be rubbed with parsley mixture and vegetables can be prepped 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill.

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