Grilled Leg of Lamb With Zinfandel Marinade and Mint Pesto

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“This is my absolute favorite way to cook lamb. Adapted from "The Sutter Home Napa Valley Cookbook", the lamb is marinated in a combination of herbs, olive oil, brown sugar, dijon mustard, soy sauce and olive oil for 48 hours and then grilled. TO DIE FOR! And so easy. Great for company because you do this way ahead and then have time for your guests...but still have an impressive, restaurant-quality meal.”
1hr 10mins

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 5 lbs leg of lamb, boned and butterflied
  • 5 garlic cloves, sliced into thin slivers
  • For the marinade
  • 1 14 cups zinfandel (NOT WHITE ZINFANDEL!!!)
  • 13 cup Dijon mustard
  • 14 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons shallots, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary (fresh, minced)
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper (freshly ground)
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • vegetable oil, for brushing grill rack
  • For the mint pesto
  • 1 cup mint (fresh, finely chopped)
  • 14 cup dry roasted peanuts (unsalted, finely chopped)
  • 14 cup sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 12 teaspoons garlic (fresh, minced fine)
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper


  1. Quickly rinse the lamb under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Trim off any excess fat. With a small, sharp knife, make 1/2 inch deep slits every 2 inches around the entire surface of the meat and insert a garlic sliver into each slit. Transfer to a nonreactive container.
  2. For the marinade: In a bowl, combine the wine, sugar, mustard, soy sauce, shallots, rosemary and black pepper. Whisk in the olive oil. Pour the mixture over the lamb. Cover and refrigerate for 48 hours, turning the meat at least 3 times.
  3. About two hours before grilling, remove the lamb from the refrigerator.
  4. Prepare a covered grill for moderate indirect-heat cooking. Position a drip pan in the center of the fuel grate.
  5. Remove the lamb from the marinade and set aside. Pour the marinade into a saucepan; place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, then set alongside the grill.
  6. When the fire is ready, lightly brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the lamb in the center of the rack, cover the grill and cook, turning and brushing with the marinade every 10 minutes, until done to preference when cut into with a small, sharp knife (35 to 40 minutes for medium-rare).
  7. For the mint pesto: In a medium bowl, combine the mint, peanuts, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and set aside. (Pesto can also be prepared in a food processor or blender, which is what I prefer to do).
  8. Remove the lamb to a cutting surface, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let stand for about 10 minutes before serving.
  9. To serve, thinly slice the lamb on the diagonal across the grain. Arrange the slices on a warmed serving platter and place the mint pesto alongside.

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