Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
12 Apr

Salt Roasted Lamb

Lamb1There are so many recipes for roasts that simply say, “season the meat with salt” before cooking. But exactly how much salt? Too little, and the meat is bland. Too much, and you’ve ruined a huge chunk of meat. But more often than not, home cooks are left on their own to figure out how much salt to sprinkle on top.

Salt roasting is a technique that takes off all the pressure of correctly seasoning meat before you cook it. It also helps keep meat tender and juicy, which is especially helpful when cooking meat that can dry out easily, like lamb. As long as you’re willing to go through a lot of salt to make it happen, you’re guaranteed a highly flavorful, juicy leg of lamb.

As the meat roasts beneath a hard shell of salt, all the juice gets trapped inside. The meat loses no flavor and is partially steamed while roasting, keeping it moist. This technique can be used with almost any large piece of protein: whole chickens, whole fish, pork loins and beef roasts.

Although egg whites make a harder shell, water can be used to dampen the salt instead. Add any herbs you like to the salt for more flavor. To know when the meat is done, use an instant read thermometer poked through the salt crust into the meat.

Salt roasting couldn’t be easier and the results are perfect every time.

Servings: 4 to 6

Time in the Kitchen: 1 hour

Ingredients:

ingredients 32
  • One 2 1/2 to 3-pound boneless leg of lamb, rolled and tied (1.1 to 1.4 kg)
  • 3 tablespoons oil (45 ml)
  • 5 cups kosher salt (about 700 g)
  • 1/4 cup chopped rosemary (6 ml)
  • 7 egg whites (or about 1 cup /240 ml of water)

Instructions:

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until it’s hot and shimmering. Add the lamb and cook until browned on all sides, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes total.

Transfer the lamb to a baking dish. Let it rest and cool slightly while the oven preheats and you mix the salt.

Preheat the oven to 375 °F/190 °C.

In a bowl, combine the kosher salt with the rosemary. Add the egg whites (or water) and mix really well with your hands until the salt is damp and thoroughly covered with egg white.

SaltMixture

Pack the salt all over the lamb in the baking dish, leaving no cracks.

SaltCoating

Roast in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer poked through the crust and into the middle of the lamb reads around 130 °F (54 °C) for medium-rare.

RoastedMeat

Take the roast out of the oven and let rest for 10 minutes, then crack the crust and remove it. Carefully and thoroughly brush off any visible salt from the outside of the meat.

Remove the string from the roast and slice thinly to serve.

Lamb2

You want comments? We got comments:

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  1. I think that should be 60ml or 2oz of rosemary.

    Miriam wrote on April 12th, 2014
  2. Pre-salting meat is easier. I wouldn’t bother with beef or lamb, but lean pork and chicken benefit hugely. Judy Rogers recommends 3/4 tsp salt per pound of meat, but I find that too salty and use 1/2 tsp (Kosher salt) per pound. Sprinkle it all over the meat, wrap it, and return it to the refrigerator. A few hours is enough for thin cuts like pork chops, a turkey may need 48 hours. Rinse it, pat it dry and do whatever. You can also add herbs with the salt for a dry rub. Pre-salting is waaay easier than brining and the resulting texture is nicer too.

    Abijah L. wrote on April 12th, 2014
    • I couldn’t agree with you more! I’ve been doing this for the last few years and now my wife won’t eat any meat unless I’ve pre-salted it! The beautiful thing is you can do anything want with it afterwards, all this does is evenly disperse the salt so that each bite is tender and juicy! beautiful!

      have you tried this with fish? I have not….

      Kyle Kreick wrote on April 14th, 2014
  3. According to my mother’s and grandmother’s wisdom, you should not salt any meat until after the meat has it’s pores closed. This is because the salt will draw water out of the raw meat and make it tough. From them, and other wise old ladies, I learned, that salt goes on at the very end of the cooking, or at least after the meat has been browned on the outside.
    They also browned all roasts on the outside, before proceding to let the meat simmer or bake.

    It may be woth a try to do it this way. From personal experience I can state, that I never had dry meat cooking it in this way.
    Also: When having very lean meats, an outside source of fat is usually added (bacon studded deer roast is an example).

    Sabine wrote on April 12th, 2014
    • All due respect to granny, but science has a better way – salt (& peppr) well in advance -> it forms a brine on the surface that is gradually re-absorbed by the meat -> meat is seasoned internally -> cook and rest for up to 10 minutes -> juicy yum yum.

      I always use this for steaks – here’s the method: http://www.seriouseats.com/2012/12/the-food-lab-complete-guide-to-pan-seared-steaks.html

      shtove wrote on April 12th, 2014
    • Mothers and grandmothers are great cooks because older ladies grew up when if you wanted to eat, you were going to be the one to cook it and you didn’t dump something from a box together with something from a bag. However, they did likely develop heuristics that work but don’t actually rely on fact. For instance: skin has pores, meat does not. Even if you are cooking skin, unless the skin is alive the pores don’t close. It takes a functional nervous system to open and close pores. Even if you are cooking live skin, heat would open the pores, not close them. The reason they browned the meat first is because brown food is tasty food and browning it first imparts flavor to the sauce as well. Presalting does pull a minimal amount of liquid from the surface but tends to tenderize it in the process and the liquid drawn out dries on the surface where the addition of heat can make all sorts of tasty compounds. The fact that you never had dry meat that way is a testament to the fact that they knew how to tell when meat was done, not that salting too early dries it out.

      Joshua wrote on April 12th, 2014
      • Thanks! Always learning new things!

        Sabine wrote on April 12th, 2014
  4. …or just buy Gower salt marsh lamb. Best lamb there is…😉

    Adda ap Henri wrote on April 12th, 2014
    • +1

      WelshGrok wrote on April 14th, 2014
  5. I LOVE lamb! I think it has something to do with growing up on a sheep farm. We ate a lot of the lamb we raised.

    salixisme wrote on April 12th, 2014
    • Mary hates you
      LOL
      same here. The aroma of lamb meat is just top class. And the fats taste quite like milk..I dont know is it just me

      Ironthumb wrote on April 12th, 2014
  6. This looks amazing. We do a lot of roasted meats and veggies on our plan, but I’ve never seen this technique before. Definitely going to try this.

    Stephen wrote on April 12th, 2014
    • BTW is that the same technique they did with beef long ago which is why they coined the term
      “corned” beef
      because the salt must be the size of a corn?

      Ironthumb wrote on April 12th, 2014
      • Pretty sure corned beef is a result from brining first. As mentioned somewhere above, Alton Brown’s show “Good Eats” explains how to make corned beef.

        Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on April 14th, 2014
  7. Thanks Mark going out to pick up a boneless lamb leg now. I brine it with rosemary and garlic and slow roast it on the rotisserie. The salt dome method looks great but the spit seems more primal

    Becky wrote on April 12th, 2014
    • Spit is certainly a great way of cooking meat. That’s probably why those highly intelligent and sophisticated grandparents did it. However, salt being a rock – the only one we eat – this is just a scaled down version of putting the animal in a foliage lined put (the herbs) and covering the meat with hot rocks (the salt) and sealing it in (the dome). Cavemen were just humans on the move and cave paintings were done by their children.
      They knew what tasted good and knew how to optimize it.

      Joshua wrote on April 14th, 2014
  8. THank you this has been a life long problem for me!

    Joe Bob wrote on April 12th, 2014
  9. looks great – and by the way – just wanted to say I am so glad I found your site – amazing stuff here – and I look forward to looking around more and even checking out the book choices….
    ~y.p.

    Y. Prior wrote on April 12th, 2014
  10. I wish I had known about this before I ruined the last hunk of lamb that I destroyed. Looks so simple yet so amazing!

    Benjamin wrote on April 13th, 2014
  11. I’m trying it right now!
    My leg o’lamb has 25 minutes to go!

    Al wrote on April 14th, 2014
  12. Any idea how to adjust cooking times for a bone-in leg of lamb? Or if any other adjustments need to be made? Or should I just roast and then check with a thermometer after the suggested times…?

    Kim wrote on April 15th, 2014
  13. Hi Mark –
    First time poster. I had never tried salt roasting and didn’t have a leg of lamb but I did have a pork loin. WOW! Great and simple recipe came out fantastic! Thank you!

    Keep up the good work!
    Alex

    Alex R wrote on April 15th, 2014
  14. Just tried this. I couldn’t find any boneless cuts of lamb, so I did it with a nice piece of beef. I’m allergic to eggs, so I used water. I used about 3/4 c. of water for an entire kilo of salt–I think the water recommendation in this recipe is way too much. I put rosemary, thyme, and sage in the salt. It was divine.

    Julie wrote on April 19th, 2014

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