Agnello allo Spiedo
Region: Italy, Calabria
Difficulty: Easy but special equipment needed and long cooking and/or non-working time
The secret to this simple spit-roasted leg of lamb is to keep the fire fueled with aromatic woods and herbs. Whether you are making a hardwood or charcoal fire or using a gas grill, the smoke will provide the basic flavor. Try rosemary, oregano or thyme twigs; apple wood chips; olive briquets; or almond, hazelnut or chestnut shells will provide the basic flavor. Soak these aromatics in water before adding to the fire (except, of course, the olive briquets).
[Photo: Alice Bressan, Profumo di Grano]
Yield: Makes 8 servings
Preparation Time: 4:35 hours in all
One 11- to 12-pound whole leg of lamb
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper (optional)
Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing
A brush made of fresh oregano and thyme sprigs
1. Prepare a medium-low charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill for 15 minutes on medium-low. Add rosemary, thyme or other herb twigs (soaked first for 10 minutes in water) to the charcoal fire or aromatic wood chip container of a gas grill. The lamb will spit-roast for 4 hours so you will want to replenish the fire periodically with more herbs or apple chips, hazelnut or almond shells or other woods. Set up the rotisserie attachment.
2. Season the leg of lamb with salt and pepper and, if desired, cayenne, and brush with olive oil.
3. Secure the lamb firmly to the spit, making sure the weight is evenly distributed so the spit rotates smoothly. Make sure the holding prongs on each end are tight and grip the lamb solidly. If necessary, tie the lamb to the spit with butcher’s twine so it will not slide when the spit rotates. Spit-roast, basting with the herb brush dipped in olive oil every 20 minutes, until the meat feels tender enough to pull off the bone with your fingers, about 4 hours. Remove the lamb from the fire and spit and let it rest 20 minutes before carving.