Spit-Roasted Lamb or Goat with Garlic and Mint

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The English colonial roots of this spit-roasted leg of lamb are obvious, but Kenyans have toned down the sweetness of the traditional mint jelly, playing up the aromatic punch of garlic and mint. Here’s how lamb and goat are prepared by Daniel Kiplagat, born into the Kalenjin tribe in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley and today head grill master at the Carnivore in Nairobi (for more about this outrageous restaurant, see here).

Ingredients

  • 1 bone-in leg of lamb or young goat (4 to 5 pounds)
  • cup soy sauce
  • cup fresh lime juice
  • cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons plus tablespoons Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
  • 2 teaspoons plus tablespoons cracked peppercorns or freshly ground black pepper
  • About 4 tablespoons (½ stick) salted butter, melted
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup dried mint
  • Sweet-Sour Mint Sauce, for serving

Method

Advance Preparation

hours or as long as overnight for marinating the lamb; about an hour for grilling time.

  1. Prick the lamb on all sides with a fork; the holes should be about ½ inch deep (this helps the meat absorb the marinade). Place the lamb in a nonreactive baking pan just large enough to hold it.
  2. Place the soy sauce, lime juice, oil, the 2 teaspoons of salt, 2 teaspoons of the cracked peppercorns, and ⅔ cup of water in a nonreactive mixing bowl and whisk to mix. Pour the marinade over the lamb, turning the leg to coat it on all sides. Let the lamb marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for at least 4 hours or as long as overnight, turning it several times so it marinates evenly. The longer the lamb marinates, the richer the flavor will be.
  3. Drain the lamb, discarding the marinade. Blot the lamb dry with paper towels. If you are spit roasting the lamb, starting at the fatter end, thread the leg lengthwise on the rotisserie spit, parallel to the leg bone, using the forked prongs of the spit to hold it in place. Brush the lamb on all sides with some of the melted butter and thickly crust it with the garlic, and the mint, the remaining 1½ tablespoons of salt, and the remaining 1½ tablespoons of cracked peppercorns, pressing them onto the meat.
  4. To grill: If you are using a rotisserie, set up the grill for spit roasting, following the manufacturer’s instructions, and preheat the grill to medium-high. When ready to cook, attach the spit to the grill and turn on the motor.

    If you are using the direct method, set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat it to medium-high. Place the leg of lamb in the center of the grate, fat side up, over the drip pan and away from the heat and cover the grill.

  5. Cook the lamb until it is crusty and darkly browned on the outside, 1 to 1¼ hours for medium-rare. Use an instant-read meat thermometer to test for doneness, inserting it into the thickest part of the leg but not touching the bone or the spit, if any. When cooked to medium-rare the internal temperature will be about 145°F. Baste the lamb often with butter and, if desired, the drippings from the lamb.
  6. Transfer the grilled lamb to a platter. Loosely tent the leg with aluminum foil and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes, then carve it. Serve the lamb with Sweet-Sour Mint Sauce, if desired.

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