Leg of Lamb with Za’atar

Jeffrey Cerciello of Farmshop shares his recipe from the 2012 Food Lovers Guide

lamb pic

We asked three chefs to incorporate an ingredient from the November issue’s “Encyclopedia of Good Taste” into a delicious signature recipe. Here, FarmShop‘s Jeffrey Cerciello rubbed a lamb-leg with fragrant za’atar and served it with cured olives.


1 leg of lamb, aitch-bone removed, shank attached, about 8-10 pounds
1 1/2 cups za’atar
4 tablespoons Chinese hot mustard powder
2 lemons, juiced
4 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons garlic, mashed to a paste
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoons crushed red pepper flake  
1 bunch marjoram or oregano
1 1/2 cups oil-cured black olives (black beldi), rinsed under hot water and drained
1/2 cup roughly chopped preserved lemon (quick recipe to follow)  


1. Have your butcher truss the lamb straight, so that the shank bone is parallel with the leg bones; pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees.  
2. Mix the za’atar, mustard powder, garlic, salt, red pepper flake & salt together in a medium bowl. Fold in the honey, olive oil, lemon juice & just enough water to form a thin paste. Reserve about 1/3 of this mixture off the side.  

3. Liberally spread the marinade over the leg of lamb. You can let this sit as long as overnight or as little as one hour.  

4. Place the marinated lamb on a rack set in a roasting pan. Liberally spread the
marjoram branches over the lamb. Place in the oven and leave to roast for 1 hour. 

5. Add some additional water to the remaining marinade. At a few intervals throughout the roast, baste the lamb with this mixture.  

6. Mix the olives and preserved lemon.

7. After an hour, check the internal temperature of the leg in the thickest part of the muscle (not too close to the bone). When the temperature reaches about 115 degrees, pack the olive/ lemon mixture on top of the lamb.  

8. Continue roasting until the lamb reaches an internal temperature of between
125-130 degrees. This should carryover to high medium-rare to medium.  

9. Let rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.  

Quick Preserved Lemon:

3 lemons, sliced as thinly as possible into rounds and seeded
3 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons sugar
Olive oil as needed


Mix the salt and sugar together. Sprinkle a layer of this mixture on the bottom of a glass or plastic dish. Place a single layer of the sliced lemon on top of this, and then sprinkle more of the salt/sugar mixture. Repeat using all of the lemon and salt/sugar mix. Press this down with your hand as much as possible. Cover in olive oil and leave out at room temperature overnight. Rinse off all the salt prior to use.