[Photograph: Quentin Bacon]

If you have actually spent time cooking from many of Mario Batali’s dish, you’ll understand the man is not afraid of bitter. His grasp on how bitter flavors enter into play is typical of Italian cuisine, where bitter is commemorated instead of camouflaged. This Leg of Lamb in a Clementine Crust from Molto Batali utilizes entire clementines– bitter pith, skin, seeds, and all– into a covering that’s bitter, sweet, natural, and basically made for winter lamb pleasure.

By mixing entire clementines with grapefruit juice (hey there once again, bitter) and rosemary, and leaving the lamb to marinate over night, the complete citrus taste of the rub infiltrates the fatty lamb, cutting the richness as it roasts and creating a pan sauce with notes of bright orange, woodsy rosemary, and beautiful lightly bitter backbone.

As always with our Cook the Book function, we have 5 (5) copies of Molto Batali to give away today.

Adjusted from Molto Batali by Mario Batali. Copyright ©2011 Published by Ecco. Available any place books are sold. All Rights Reserved

  • Yield: 8 to 10
  • Active time:
    20 minutes
  • Overall time: 2 hours plus marinading time


  • 1/2 cup grapefruit juice
  • 4 clementines, halved
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 boneless leg of lamb (5 to 7 pounds– always get the larger one), rolled and connected by your butcher
  • Salt


  1. 1.

    Integrate the grapefruit juice, clementines, white wine, garlic, rosemary, 2 tablespoons black pepper, and the oil in a blender or processor, and pulse till the mixture forms a rough paste.

  2. 2.

    Place the lamb in a large, shallow, nonreactive dish or pan. Rub the marinade over it, and turn the lamb to coat it on all sides. Cover, and cool for at least 12 hours (as much as 36 hours).

  3. 3.

    Remove the lamb from the marinade, scheduling the marinade, and move it to a roasting pan. Season the lamb aggressively with salt and pepper, and let it stand at room temperature for 45 minutes.

  4. 4.

    Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 425 ° F. Rub the reserved marinade over the lamb, and add 1 cup of water to the roasting pan. Place the pan in the oven and roast for 20 minutes.

  5. 5.

    Minimize the oven temperature to 400 ° F, and continue roasting till an instant-read thermometer registers 130 ° F for medium-rare, roughly 1 hour and 25 minutes for a large roast. (It may be just 45 minutes for a small one, so beware and examine the temperature level after 45 minutes in any case.)

  6. 6.

    Get rid of the pan from the oven and allow the lamb to rest for 20 minutes before carving.

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