How to make it

  • 1. For the marinade, heat oven to 350°. Set ancho and pasilla chile pieces in a small pan; place pan in oven until chile pieces develop a sheen, no more than 30 seconds. Cut chiles into pieces small enough to grind in a mini-chopper or coffee grinder. Grind chiles to a powder. Mix with next 3 ingredients to form a smooth paste. Set aside.
  • 2. For the pesto, place first 4 ingredients, plus 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper, in the workbowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade; process until cilantro is minced. With machine on, slowly add the olive oil so that pesto emulsifies. Transfer to a small container; cover and refrigerate.
  • 3. For the preserves, bring first 4 ingredients to boil in a medium nonreactive saucepan. Adjust heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring every 5 minutes, for a total of 20 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in pectin. Return saucepan to heat and bring mixture to boil. Let preserves cool to room temperature; they will be on the thin side. Transfer to a non reactive container and refrigerate. (Refrigerated preserves will last at least 3 months; if canned, preserves can be stored indefinitely.)
  • 4. Lay the butterflied leg of lamb, cut side up, so that its short end faces you; trim off excess meat, particularly the shank piece, so that leg forms a rough rectangle. (Meat scraps can be placed on thinner sections of the butterflied leg for more uniform height.) Pound particularly thick leg muscles to facilitate rolling. Spread about 2/3 of the Cilantro Pesto in a thin layer over leg, leaving at least a 1-inch border around the perimeter. (If spread too close to the edge, pesto will ooze out when leg is tied.) Reserve remaining pesto for serving. Starting with the short side closest to you, roll leg into a tight cylinder. Following the illustrations below, tie roast to secure. Place lamb leg on a roasting pan; rub roast on all sides with the chile marinade. (Can cover and refrigerate up to 48 hours.)
  • 5. Bring lamb roast to room temperature. Adjust rack to low position and heat oven to 450°; roast lamb for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°; roast until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers no more than 120° to 125,° about 1 1/2 hours. Let roast rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Cut lamb into slices 1/2-inch thick . Drizzle with remaining pesto and serve with Jalapeno Preserves passed separately.
  • NOTE: To toast the cumin seeds for the marinade, heat a small skillet, add the cumin seeds, and toast over medium-high heat, shaking the pan constantly, until seeds are fragrant, about 15 seconds. Grind in a coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Do not more than triple the Jalapeño Preserve recipe.

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