DIY. Now there’s a subject that we men like to treat as our own. If there is a shelf to be put up or a picture to be hung, I’m your man. Your man, as long as you aren’t a perfectionist. So what if the shelf slopes slightly to the right and the picture hangs just a little down on the left? Perfection is boring. When I was a bit younger, I managed to saw through the corner of our kitchen table while preparing a plank for the garden shed. That self-build garden shed was another story altogether. To my credit, I have never driven a nail into a water pipe. Though to balance that I have managed to screw straight into a live wire while hanging a picture hook. In short, with most DIY, you should really do it yourself. Don’t let me near it. But, when it comes to DIYing a Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Lemon, Thyme and Garlic, look no further – I really am your man.
They say that a bad workman blames his tools. A Christmas ago, the Wife gifted me a lovely boning knife. Now that summer has broken out here in Ireland, I get to put it to work. As I have a lovely boning knife (She reads this stuff!), I have nobody to blame but myself.
Side note on boning knives: If you are lucky, like me, you can use your boning knife. If not, any small paring knife will still do the job. There is one proviso. The knife needs to be sharper than you. In fact, there is an inverse ratio between the keen edge of the blade and the sharpness of the one wielding the weapon. Remember that.
As with so many of my recipes, there are very few ingredients. However, like so many of my recipes, we go for quality not quantity in this regard.
Ingredients for Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Lemon, Thyme and Garlic
- One leg of Irish spring lamb
(This is a rear, right leg from a female sheep from Carlow. I know my meat!)
- Juice and zest of one and a half lemons
- 4 single clove bulbs of garlic or a bulb of regular garlic
- A big handful of thyme (light stalks included)
- A little salt and pepper to season
Here’s the DIY walkthrough
Unwrap the flappy bit and cut it off.
Trim around the ‘H’ bone (H for hip) and remove it. It will come away easily. Next go to the front of the leg and identify the kneecap.
Cut above and below it. Then slice around it and remove it too. Cut below the knee joint and remove the shank.
Side note on all the removed bits: Wrap everything you don’t use in cling film and put them in the freezer. They can be used to add additional flavour to roasts or to make stock. collect a few shanks and they are delicious slow roasted. They are not great in this dish.
Identify the top and bottom of the thigh bone (the one left in the meat) slice along the inside of the leg along the line of the bone. Carefully open out the flesh to expose the bone.
Side note on slicing inside a big joint of meat: Always, always cut away from your hand and fingers. If you slip (when, not if), you will only damage the meat. Your fingers will be needed later, so be careful.
Trim carefully around the bone and remove it. Lay the meat out, skin side down. It will not be of even thickness. Here’s where the butterflying happens. Slice horizontally across the thickest part of the meat and flatten it out.
Repeat as necessary until you have an even (roughly even) thickness. The lamb will be long and, if you have used your knife well, still in one piece. Trim any raggy bits and any lumpy pieces of fat.
Put the remaining ingredients into a blender and blitz them. I included all the stalks from the thyme except the woody ones. There is lots of flavour in the delicate shoots.
Cut some slashes through the skin side of the meat. Don’t cut all the way through.
Rub the mixture all over the meat.
Cover the lamb and refrigerate for three to four hours. Fling it on a medium barbecue and cook until it is done. The meat should cook evenly as it is roughly the same thickness throughout.
Remove the lamb and trim it to fit on your chopping board.
Slice it and serve it with some nice white wine. It needs to be white as the lemon and thyme would play havoc with any red. This summer favourite is delicious with a nice crisp salad.
As long as I produce barbecue dishes like this, the Wife won’t notice the odd sloping picture, the missing corner of the kitchen table or the any of my other DIY failures. I can only encourage you to do it yourself.