Open Fire Greek Style

"My art is a smoke-blackened empire" 
Quote; Athenaeus, Greek scholar c.200 A.D.

My travels to Greece have inspired this recipe. Usually the Greek custom is for a whole lamb to be prepared, but for ease of cooking I substituted a leg of lamb in lieu of the traditional whole lamb. Tried and true - this open fire spit recipe is always a crowd pleaser and was also one of the most requested dishes at my restaurant, and my TV crew loved it too. The fire-smoke combo flavors the meat while it slowly caramelizes on the spit. I know your guests will enjoy it as much as mine. Just use caution – your guests may get so into the mood, they will want to dance on tables and break plates. Opa, happy Friday! 

Grilled Greek Leg of Lamb  
makes 10-12 servings | recipe by George Hirsch

From Gather ‘round the Grill cookbook 1995, by Chef George Hirsch with Marie Bianco & From George Hirsch Living it UP! TV series

5-6 pound boneless leg of lamb, split
2 cups fresh spinach, cleaned
2 Tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
8 fresh mint leaves
1 head garlic, peeled
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
2 teaspoons sea salt

Place fresh spinach, garlic, oregano, mint leaves, and pepper in a food processor or blender. Blend until leaves are small, add lemon juice and vinegar. Blend one minute or just until all ingredients are well mixed.  Place lamb in a large bowl, pour marinade over the lamb, cover, and refrigerate for 4 hours or up to 2 days ahead of cooking; turning lamb twice a day.

Pre heat grill to high.   

Remove lamb from marinade, dry the surface of the meat with paper towels, sprinkle with sea salt and secure with butcher twine on a metal spit. Place leg of lamb with spit on an indirect heat on a gas or charcoal grill for 30-40 minutes, until the entire surface is nicely brown.  Use caution when grilling to cook on an indirect heat to avoid flare ups.  

Place marinade in a large braising pan (as wide as lamb) and bring up to a rapid boil.  When meat is brown, place braising pan with reduce marinade on grill under meat to catch juices dripping from roast. Cover grill and lower temperature of grill to low. Brush lamb with drippings every 5-10 minutes. 

Cooking the lamb roast on a spit low and slow keeps the meat tender and juicy, as the moisture is not forced out of the roast. I cook my lamb well done; more in the style of a braised lamb dish for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until lamb is fork tender. However, if you prefer your lamb medium-rare, after browning roast cook about one hour on low temperature or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 145 degrees. 

When meat is cooked remove to a serving platter, cover with foil and allow to rest for thirty minutes prior to removing from spit and carving.  While meat is resting bring juices in braising pan to a boil and reduce the juices until it is all homogenized, pour juice over sliced lamb.

Serve with Greek Salad, warm pita bread and Tzatziki.