Leg of Lamb with Harissa Yogurt Crust

A simple recipe for Leg of Lamb with a Harissa Yogurt Crust. This bone-in lamb leg yields a beautiful flavorful crust with juicy tender meat.


5 1/2 – 6 1/2 lb leg of lamb, bone-in.
8–10 fat garlic cloves
2 shallots, quartered
3–4 tablespoons Harissa Paste
2 tablespoons preserved lemons(or 1 tablespoon lemon zest)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon caraway seeds, optional
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons fresh thyme (or one tablespoon dried)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup thick whole milk yogurt, plain
Optional: roasting vegetables- potatoes, carrots, parsnips, onions, etc.
Serve with Preserved Lemon Gremolata or Green Harissa Yogurt


  1. Prep the Lamb: Trim the fat off the leg if you prefer a leaner version -or leave some on for extra flavor. See notes. Score all sides of leg 1/2 inch deep, 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart (crosshatch if you like), sprinkle generously with salt and bring to room temp for at least 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F
  3. Make the Marinade: Place garlic, shallot, Harissa paste, preserved lemon, salt, cumin, pepper, caraway seeds, thyme and olive oil in a food processer and pulse until uniformly chopped. Add the yogurt, pulse a few times (don’t blend or it will get runny). Taste for heat, adding more harissa paste to taste.
  4. Assemble: Place the lamb over a rack in a roasting pan. Lift the bone end of the leg straight up and brush the underside of the leg with the Harissa Yogurt getting into the slits and cuts as best you can. Lay it down over the rack, brush the remaining marinade over the top, getting into slits and lathering it up generously. Nestle in any roasting veggies you like (toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper first.) You could brush any remaining marinade on the veggies if you like.
  5. BAKE: AT 350F, plan on 20 minutes per pound for rare to medium-rare so plan on roughly 2 hours. Place lamb on the lower third of the oven, loosely covered with a foil “tent” for one hour. Remove foil and check temp. Because every oven is different, keep an eye on the roast after the first hour, checking every 20 minutes or so for over-browning. You can always re-tent with foil if getting too dark. A little color is good here, but you don’t want it to burn. (If you leave the fat on, you can always carefully brown using the broiler, at the end to help crisp up that fat.)
  6. Once the roast reaches 125-130F at the thickest end, pull it out, tent it again and let it rest 15-20 minutes before cutting into it, allowing the juices to remain in the meat, which will help keep the meat tender.

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