Recipe for Yucatan leg of lamb


1 whole leg of lamb (approx. 6.5 pounds)
1.5 tbsp. cumin seeds
3 tbsp. black peppercorns
3 tbsp. dried orregano leaves
3 tbsp. dried thyme leaves
..5 tsp. sea salt (I use regular salt)
3-4 dried chipotle chile (essential - these are smoked jalapeno)
3 tbsp. olive oil
8 - 10 prickly pear cactus pads (optional - these are sold as nopales)
salt and pepper to taste
6 cups reserved lamb stock (I use beef stock with equally good


Preheat oven to 325

Trim fell and fat from leg of lamb. (The fell is is what gives lamb
its strong taste. It is important to remove it as thoroughly as
possible). Remove hip bone with a boning knife (I usually leave this
on, it just makes carving the lamb a little more difficult). Re-form
the lamb and tie tightly with kitchen string. Make a stock with the
bones and trimmings and set lamb aside, covered with plastic wrap.

In a small iron skillet, saute the cumin seeds, peppercorns, orregano,
and thyme over medium heat to release their flavours. Stir frequently
and remove when they turn brown and start to smoke. Add salt and one
broken chipotle chili, and grind the mixture into a fine powder in a
clean coffee grinder.

Rub lamb with olive oil and then coat uniformly with generous amounts
of the spice mixture. Place on a rack in a shallow roasting and roast
for 1 hour and 15 minutes - until a meat thermometer registers an
internal temperature of 120 F. Rasie heat to 450 F to brown exterior
for 5 to 10 minutes (the meat thermometer is important to judge the
doneness of the meat). The internal temperature should rise to 130 F.
Remove from oven and let rest for 15 min. before carving to allow the
meat juices to be reabsorbed.

While the lamb is roasting, wash the prickly pear cactus pads in cold
water, after removing the thorns with a paring knife, brush with olive
oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill over a low charcoal fire
or under a broiler for about 5 min. per side or until tender.

To make the sauce, pour the fat from the roasting pan and add the
lamb stock (or beef stock in my case), and remaining broken chipotles.
Reduce over high heat, stirring occasionally, until stock is reduced
by two-thirds. Adjust seasoning. Carve lamb and serve on the platter
with rice, garnish with cactus pads and spoon sauce over meat.

Note: Lamb can marinate overnight in the refrigerator, covered with
plastic wrap. It is important to let it sit at room temperature for
4 hours before cooking.

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