Kitchen Table: Hickory-Smoked Leg of Lamb with Basil/Mint Pesto

Try this succulent lamb recipe.

| April/May 1995

From Janet Perry, Hoffman Estates, Illinois

Serves 8

This recipe highlights the savory taste of raspberry vinegar as a basting liquid. Lamb is a naturally succulent meat, and here it is grilled slowly over charcoal. During the last half hour of cooking, hickory chips are added to the coals for subtle flavor. You may prepare the pesto as long as a week in advance and store it, covered, in the refrigerator.

  • 1 cup firmly packed basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed mint leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup shelled walnuts
  • Leg of lamb, about 5 pounds

1. Soak two hickory chips in water for 24 hours.

2. Combine the basil, mint, and garlic in a food processor or blender and process to form a thick paste. With the machine running, slowly add the olive oil. Pulsing on and off, add and process the walnuts.

3. About 3/4 hour before you’re ready to grill, build a charcoal fire in a covered kettle-style grill. When the coals are white but still glowing, spread them out with a heatproof tool. Adjust the vents on both the cover and under the grill to maintain a very slow fire.

4. While the grill is heating, trim away as much fat from the leg of lamb as possible. Rub the pesto all over the leg. Stick a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the leg.

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