The muhammara glaze in the recipe below is adapted from my usual recipe; I've made a few adjustments to allow it to stick to the meat and caramelize into a deliciously charred crust. While I usually like to leave muhammara on the chunky side, here I have you blend everything smoothly and then simmer it until it thickens. I also left the breadcrumbs and nuts untoasted, since everything's going to get nice and toasty once it's in the oven. And I've added extra oil and pomegranate molasses for just the right amount of caramelization. Feel free to use this muhammara glaze with other cuts of meat, or even with roast veggies.
I’ve tried a lot of different recipes and strategies for roasting meat, and at the end of the day, it just seems like different things work for different people (with different ovens, different shaped cuts, and different time constraints). So while I’ve included my own recipe below, which works for me, you should feel free to use whatever method has worked for you in the past to get that perfect medium-rare center. But, perhaps even more important than the recipe itself, I've come up with a short list of principles for good roasting.
how to roast red meat
1) internal temperature is everything
Whether you’re slow-roasting or grilling, the internal temperature of the meat is the only sure way to know that it’s done. It’s impossible to give an accurate time estimation, so you’ve got to have a thermometer to reliably roast to medium rare. A probe thermometer with a tether is even better than an instant read thermometer, and will ensure that you don’t overshoot (and you won’t have to take the temperature a million times while you’re waiting). Cook until a thermometer inserted in the center of the roast registers 125° F (it will carry over a few degrees as it rests).
2) but getting a charred crust that isn’t burnt is important too
To get a charred crust, you’ll need to roast the meat at a high temperature for at least a few minutes at the beginning or end of roasting. The muhammara paste below will burn if you let it go at a high temperature too long, so it’s important to tent it loosely with foil once it’s nice and crusty.
3) let your meat rest for about 20 minutes once it comes out of the oven
It will coast the rest of the way to medium rare, and you'll lose less juices this way.
4) find a recipe that works for you
I’ve got my recipe below, but some people swear by low-and-slow roasting to achieve that perfect medium-rare center. Certain recipes that friends swear by have 100% not worked for me (and I assume the same is true vice versa). You should do whatever works for you, and feel free to experiment with other roasting recipes if you think this one doesn’t make sense for you.
2 large or 3 small bell peppers
1 small clove garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts (or 1/2 cup whole walnuts)
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon cumin
3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
- Turn one or two gas stove burners to medium heat and place the red peppers directly over the grates. * Cook the peppers, frequently rotating each as soon as one side becomes very charred. Cook until the peppers are somewhat soft and very charred (about 5 to 10 minutes total).
- Immediately place the peppers in a glass container or bowl. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and microwave for 30 seconds on high heat. Then use the residual heat to let the peppers slowly steam for 30 minutes to an hour.
- While the peppers are steaming, pulse the garlic in a food processor, until it's very finely chopped. Next, add the pine nuts and process until they're very finely chopped (don't over-process). Add in the breadcrumbs, cumin, pomegranate molasses, crushed red pepper, oregano, salt, and olive oil.
- Once the peppers have steamed long enough (they should be soft and cool enough to handle), use a paper towel to rub away most of the charred skins. Tear the peppers open and discard the seeds, pith, stems, and any excess liquid that has collected. Place the skinless, seeded red peppers in the food processor and blend everything together until it's completely smooth.
- Place the muhammara in a small skillet and turn the heat to medium. Once it starts bubbling, reduce to medium low to maintain a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring every minute or so, until it thickens quite a bit (see above photo).
- Remove from heat and cool. You'll use 1/2 cup to coat the lamb, and you'll serve the rest alongside the lamb at the table. Careful not to cross-contaminate the table muhammara.
an approximately 4 pound butterflied (boneless) half leg of lamb
1/2 cup muhammara (plus extra for serving)
1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
special equipment: an instant-read thermometer
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Get out a roasting pan with a rack and place the lamb on the rack. Use paper towels to pat it dry inside and out, and then evenly sprinkle it with salt. Open it up so the inside is facing up. Spoon 1/4 cup of the muhammara onto the lamb and spread it around. Close it back up by either shutting it like a book with the heavier side on top, or like a trifold pamphlet with the seam side down (no need to tie with twine).
- Place in the oven for 15 to 25 minutes, just until the outside develops some char and crust.
- Once it's a little charred, loosely tent the lamb with foil and reduce the oven's temperature to 325° F. Roast the rest of the way. The lamb is done once it registers 125° F at the center of the roast. 30 minutes after turning the oven temperature down, take the lamb's temperature to check how it's progressing, and test diligently from there.***
- Once the roast is 125° F, remove from the oven and let it rest for 20 minutes before slicing and serving.
* If you don't have a gas stove, you can use your oven's broiler or a grill, using the same method and checking frequently.
** Be sure to read the recipe notes before the recipe.
*** There's no way to give an exact time estimation for a medium-rare roast, since roasts come in different shapes and sizes, and ovens all work a little differently with timing. The times I tested this, it took me between 35 to 45 minutes at 325° F after roasting for 25 minutes at 425° F. Let internal temperature be your guide, and carefully monitor the roast.