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Deboned leg of lamb with garlic, rosemary and olives

Dec 7, 2023 | Mains, Meat


Leg of lamb or mutton is one of those foods that conjure up many wonderful memories. One of the tastiest ways to prepare this cut of meat is in a kettle braai. This gives the meat a unique flavour without drying it out. A deboned leg of lamb cooks faster and is much easier to carve. Making sure that the meat is cooked evenly, is also much easier with a deboned leg.

How to debone a leg of lamb:
Debone a leg of lamb, while the meat is still cold, but not frozen, because the fat of meat at room temperature will make your hands slippery. Work with a long, thin deboning knife or large chef’s knife to make it as easy as possible to slice close to the bone. The way in which the butcher cuts the leg of lamb will determine how many bones there are to remove. Start deboning where the large bone is visible and gradually work with the knife all around the bone, trying to leave as little meat as possible on the bone. First, clean the largest joint of the bone. Then determine the position of the bone by pressing with your fingers and moving the bone. Make a cut through the meat towards the lowest point of the bone and cut the meat away until you can remove the bone. Cut any other pieces of bone off the meat in the same way and remove any cartilage and excess fat. Butterfly the meat in an even layer.


Deboned leg of lamb with garlic, rosemary and olives

Recipe from Food from the heart/Onthoukos
Serves 4 – 6


1,5 kg leg of lamb, deboned and excess fat removed (ask your butcher to do this)

4–5 large cloves of garlic, cut in strips

5–6 sprigs of rosemary, stripped from the stalks

5–6 black olives, pitted and cut in strips

juice and finely grated rind of 1 lemon

olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Open up the meat into a more or less an even layer. If necessary, carefully make one or two slits to flatten out any thicker sections, to butterfly the leg.
  2. With the point of a sharp vegetable knife, make small slits on the leg of lamb, about 3 cm apart. Insert a piece of garlic, a few pieces of rosemary and an olive strip into each slit.
  3. Mix the lemon juice and zest with the olive oil and any remaining garlic, rosemary and olives and spread all over the leg of lamb. Place in a large bowl, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. (Don’t season with salt and pepper yet.)
  4. Prepare the kettlebraai with about 30 briquettes in each coal holder. Start roasting the meat when a thin layer of ash forms on the briquettes.
  5. Season the leg of lamb on both sides with salt and pepper. Place flat on the grid, but over indirect heat and therefore not directly above the coals. Place the lid on and keep the ventilation holes at the top and bottom open.
  6. Roast for 45 minutes – 1 hour for medium done (or until cooked to your preference, but preferably still a little pink on the inside).
  7. Allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes before carving it to prevent all the meat juices from coming out. Serve hot or at room temperature with potatoes in any form of your choice and a green salad.


  1. The meat can be braaied over medium coals or roasted at 180 °C in the oven. It will take more or less the same amount of time as in the kettlebraai. For oven roasting, cover the meat in foil for the first part of the cooking time.
  2. Always carve a leg of lamb, or any other large cut of meat, in slices against the grain of the meat, otherwise, it will seem tough or fall apart. Never carve meat with a serrated knife.
  3. Add 30–50 ml chopped mint or wholegrain mustard to the lemon rind.
  4. Serve the leg of lamb at room temperature with a sauce of plain yoghurt, seasoned with extra chopped mint, salt and pepper.

This Deboned leg of lamb with garlic, rosemary and olives recipe was developed for my first cookbook Onthoukos, image by Adriaan Vorster.

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