Spit-Roasted Pomegranate-Marinated Leg of Lamb with Chanterelles

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When I saw the outdoor spit barbecue at Mark Peel and Nancy Silverton’s house in Los Angeles on a January day that was clear and a balmy 74°, I knew I had to cook outside. After seeing huge fresh chanterelle mushrooms at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, I then knew we had to cook those under something on the spit, so that the mushrooms would sizzle in the fat and juices dropping onto them from above. We decided upon a leg of lamb.

Marinating the lamb in pomegranate juice acts as a tenderizing agent and provides a flavorful counterpoint to the richness of the lamb.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole leg of lamb, bone in (about 5 to 6 pounds)
  • 1 cup fresh pomegranate juice
  • ¼ cup ruby port
  • 8 cloves fresh garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 pounds fresh chanterelles or other wild mushrooms, brushed clean
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups chicken stock

Method

Trim any excess fat from the lamb. Mix the pomegranate juice, port, half the garlic, and the rosemary. Rub all over the lamb. Refrigerate the lamb in the marinade, turning it a few times, for 6 hours.

Rub the chanterelles with a mixture of the thyme, remaining garlic, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and marinate for 2 hours.

Light a hot fire in a barbecue grill with a rotisserie spit. At the same time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Remove the lamb from the marinade and pat dry; reserve the marinade. Put the leg on a spit and secure with wire or string. Season the leg with salt and pepper. Put the spit over or, ideally, in front of a hot fire and cook the lamb, while the spit turns, for about 1½ hours, until the meat is medium-rare and the juices still run pink when the leg is pierced in its thickest part with a thin skewer.

When the lamb begins to cook, season the mushrooms with salt and pepper and put them in the oven. Roast for 20 minutes. Transfer them to a shallow baking pan and set in front of the fire under the lamb. Let them continue cooking until tender, turning them twice.

Strain the reserved marinade into a saucepan and add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, skimming. Continue to boil until the sauce is reduced by half.

When the lamb is cooked, let it rest for 15 minutes away from the fire but still kept warm by it; then take it off the spit. Slice and serve with the sauce poured over the meat and the mushrooms around it.

Never wash wild mushrooms, just wipe them [with a damp cloth to get the sand or bits of leaves off them], or they will turn into a big soggy mess. People forget that food comes from the earth.

Mark Peel

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