Butterflied Leg of Lamb

James Beard

Author and Educator

A butterflied leg of lamb is a boned leg of lamb that has been opened and flattened to make a roast with a uniform thickness, a process that is best done by a butcher. But the result is worth the effort, for this is a cut of lamb that is also delicious grilled over hot coals.


  • 4 to 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 6 to 7 pounds leg of lamb, trimmed, boned, and butterflied (yielding about 5 pounds of meat)


Grind the garlic, salt, pepper, and rosemary together with a mortar and pestle, and then stir in the olive oil to make a smooth marinade, or blend the ingredients together in a food processor.

Put the lamb in a shallow dish large enough to hold it and pour in marinade, making sure all the meat is well covered. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the meat to marinate for 2 to 3 hours, or longer.

Preheat the broiler. Remove the lamb from the marinade, and lay it on the broiler rack with the cut side up. Broil 6 inches from the heat for approximately 15 to 18 minutes, depending on the thickness. Brush the surface with the marinade, turn the lamb with tongs, and broil fat side up for 16 minutes. Before the end of the cooking time remove the lamb from the broiler and insert a meat thermometer in the thickest part. It should register 135°F for rare, 140°F for medium rare.

Transfer the lamb to a hot platter or carving board, fat side down, and allow to stand for at least 5 minutes before carving. Carve slices crosswise on the diagonal, from 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick.


6-8 servings