Marinated Grilled Leg of Lamb for Cook the Books

As some of you know, this blog was first inspired by Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Her book caused us to become gung-ho locavorists.   We developed our own rules (based on Kingsolver’s suggestions), created more garden space in our yard, and built a green house.  We treked to farmers markets every weekend.

It was exhausting.

Since that time (has it really been seven years???), we have fallen off the bandwagon a bit.

I wish I had read Robin Mather’s book first.  Then, we might still be dedicated.

This month’s Cook the Book round features Mather’s The Feast Nearby.   In this book of essays, Mather describes “How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on forty dollars a week).”

feast nearby

Mather is plain spoken and although passionate about her lifestyle, she is not preachy or judgmental.  She is practical.   I learned a great deal from her such as trying to purchase cheese trims from a local cheese monger, drying cherries, and making mead.   I love that she also likes to have a meal of “nibbles” in the summer months.   And, I applaud that she not only advocates for local farmers, but also for local purveyors and businesses like grocers, millers, and meat packers.

I have a new idol in Mather.

My new favorite chapter “On Thanksgiving and the Local Table” (186) where she lays out her new tradition of celebrating solo.  A year ago, I highlighted my then favorite chapter, “On Snapping Turtles and Strawberries” (18),  as Mather discusses another tradition—having strawberry shortcake for dinner to celebrate the first berry harvest.  We have definitely adopted the latter tradition and am seriously thinking about taking on a solo-Thanksgiving.  I can’t think of a better way to quietly reflect.

I want to make her Espresso Walnut Scones (58) and Honey-Oat Bread (168) just to name a few of her recipes, but what did I land on for this Cook the Books post?

Marinated Grilled Leg of Lamb (74-75) was my challenge.

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Marinated Grilled Boneless Leg of Lamb
based on Robin Mather’s Marinated Grilled Leg of Lamb

1 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
3 lemons, juiced
1/2 c. dry red wine
1 large onion quartered
6 large garlic cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 c. Dijon mustard
1 T. dried oregano
1 T. dried basil
1 T. dried rosemary
2 t. ground cumin
2 t. coarse sea salt
2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 (4-5 lb.) boneless leg of lamb

Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, onion, garlic, mustard, spices, salt and pepper in a food processor.  (Make sure it is a large one because this is a lot of marinade.  A blender may be used as well.)  Process until well-combined but some chunks of onion can remain.

Mather says to untie the leg of lamb and unroll it, spreading the marinade all over.   I left mine tied from the butcher and placed it along with the marinade in a sealable bag and marinaded for four hours in the refrigerator.  (Mather states that you can marinade it for 8 to 24 hours.)

Heat a grill to 300 degrees.  We used our retro ceramic cooker, similar to a Big Green Egg.   Place the lamb on a small aluminum tray and cook for two hours, turning the roast after the first hour.  Cook until an internal temperature of 140 F. is reached.  Remove from grill and let rest for 10 minutes.

For her original recipe, click here.

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As Mather states about her own life challenges, “We often don’t grow without a push” (187).   The Feast Nearby is my push to rethink and rediscover supporting local farmers, growing what we can, and supporting local vendors and businesses.   In short, we will try to live by Mather’s good and practical example.

To qualify the above declaration, this will be easier to do now that summer and the growing season is just around the corner.

It is not to late to grab a copy of The Feast Nearby.  It is a quick read and has some marvelous recipes included. Just post your Mather-inspired dish by June 1st and you are in the running.   I promise you will enjoy this practical, informative, and inspiring book of essays and recipes.  If you’re new to Cook the Books, please check out About or Guidelines or simply leave a question in the comments below.    Once you post, just shoot me an email at

And if you want to work ahead, please join CTB for the June/July round hosted by Simona of BricioleSimona has chosen The Wedding Bees: A Novel of Honey, Love, and Manners by Sarah-Kate Lynch (2014).   I have started it and will probably have it read by the time this posts.   A very enjoyable read, I must say.



Postscript:  This was the first lamb dish I have ever cooked.  It was a tremendously successful first time.  (Please don’t judge the photos…it was the perfect with just a bit of rareness.  We served the lamb for Easter dinner with Sriracha-Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes (which actually did come from our garden and have been stored in the garage since our harvest) and Curried Quinoa Salad.  

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