Roasted Lamb Leg… a warm dinner on a cold Saturday night…

It is finally getting cold around here in South Carolina. There was even snow in the forecast for this Sunday! Of course it did not snow though. Still, the talk of snow makes me get up in the morning and run to the window with excitement! It is a good thing that we never grow out of certain habits :)

When I was growing up, one habit of families was to use small business establishments for grocery shopping! While I was looking for a big, hefty lamb leg to cook for the recipe “Road Show North African Grilled Lamb”, I so wished there was a little butcher shop around the corner. Although the lifestyle is changing rapidly, in Turkey, we used to go to the farmer’s market to get our veggies once a week, to the butcher shop for various meats that they prepare, grind, flatten, trim the way you want it, to the dairy shop where they sell milk, cream, home-made yogurt, eggs, to the little neighborhood bakeries for your bread… or to the small mom & pop grocery stores at every corner for all the rest of the items. I miss that mile stretch to my home from the bus stop… while we were walking back home with my mom, we used to do our shopping in small quantities. We knew all the store owners because my family had lived on that street for over 50 years! Today these little shops are still surviving, but bigger supermarkets are opening all around Istanbul, luring people in with promises of one-stop-shopping!

One day my mom said “I heard Walmart is planning open a store here.” And my heart sank… very, very deep… “Oh NO!”. My mom said “Why? Pretty convenient!”… I guess when we are away from home, we like to keep that nostalgia alive and don’t want anything to change… while people actually living there yearn for more comfort and convenience. It is the way it goes, I will just have to remember to take more pictures next time I am in Istanbul. Because it could only be a matter of time before it all goes away!

For this week’s One Big Table recipe, I chose a marinade recipe for grilled lamb but roasted the leg. Next time, to let the marinade infuse into the meat more, I will do kebabs on skewers (shish kebab).

It only makes sense to invite friends over for such a meal! It was after Thanksgiving and I really did not want to make anything heavy and starchy. I opted for more veggies but made soup and baked bread just in case our friends needed something more substantial. Lamb was accompanied with two typical Turkish vegetable dishes, green beans cooked with olive oil and grated tomato, and fava beans and artichokes with dill. I also added roasted Brussels sprouts (20-25 minutes at 450-degree F oven, then mix it with some salt, pepper, lemon juice and Parmesan cheese) and Molly’s skillet carrots along with a big green salad. And everyone left the table full, I hope.

For the green beans, I did not add any water to cook the veggies. They cooked in whatever water they released, and the juice from grated tomatoes. The key is to keep the pot covered. I used to add a little bit of water to my veggies cooked in olive oil until I met one of the best cooks I have ever known, Bahtiyar. We took a little cruise on the Mediterrenean coast of Turkey this September (Blue Voyage). The boat was big enough for only 10 people and the 3-people crew. Bahtiyar was the cook in the crew and he made delicious food. And I do not use that word lightly! Cooking slowly in their own juice andgrated tomato juice was the only thing he shared with me during those 7 days. Everytime I asked a recipe, he would say “Ms. Ilke, if I give you the recipe, you won’t come back. If I don’t, you’ll miss my food and hire us again for another trip. So I won’t give you the recipe!”. Plus, he really did not believe that I could cook. I even showed my blog to him to prove that I can. He said he only sees hands, not faces on the pages…And he can not say whose hands those are!! Fine, Bahtiyar!! No arm twisting necessary, I would go on that boat in a heartbeat again!

So, I am leaving you with recipes of the lamb marinade from the One Big Table and green beans from Bahtiyar! Make sure you google Blue Voyage in Turkey and look at some beautiful images around Gocek especially. Then plan your trip there …or daydream like I do most of the time :)

Road Show North African Grilled Lamb (From One Big Table cookbook)

  • One 4-5 pound bone-in leg of lamb, trimmed
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup Greek-style yogurt (you can use regular store-brand yogurt; just drain it over a cheesecloth for an hour or so before you use)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1 scallion , green and white parts, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoon ground turmeric ( I did not have turmeric and substituted dry ground mustard 1:1 ratio)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1.      Mix all the ingredients.

2.      Make ½ inch deep cuts all over the lamb, approximately 2 inches apart from each other.

3.      Massage the marinade well into the cuts and all over the lamb. If you are grilling, reserve the 1/3 of the marinade before rubbing. You will baste the meat with this reserved marinade while grilling. If you roast it, you will use the remaining marinade after it cooks, rubbing it onto the cooked meat while resting.

4.      Cover and refrigerate the lamb for 2 hours. (I put the lamb leg in one of those oven bags, and let it sit in the fridge overnight)

5.      Bring the lamb to the room temperature.

6.      If you are grilling, use the skewer rod to place the lamb over the grill and cook at 325°F, basting with the marinade time to time until the inner temperature reads 125°F for medium rare, 135°F for medium or around 160°F for done.

7.      If you are roasting, cover with aluminum foil and bake it in a preheated 350°F oven. It will take a little longer in the oven (2-3 hours).

Green Beans

  • 1 lbs fresh green beans
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2-3 medium size ripe tomatoes, grated (grate until you get everything under the skin, throw away the skin)
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

1.      Wash the green beans, cut the pointy ends and discard. You can cut them in 1 inch long pieces or leave them as is.

2.      Saute the onions and carrot in olive oil until they are soft but not browned.

3.      Reduce the heat to medium, add garlic, green beans and sugar. Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often.

4.      Add salt, pepper and the juice and tomato pieces from the grated tomatoes, stir it one more time, cover and cook for 40 min or until the beans are tender and cooked.


  1. by Lora @cakeduchess
    7:17 am
    Dec 6, 2010

    Hi Ilke-This all looks delicious! Even the green beans look amazing! Gorgeous photos. Thank you for your sweet comments. I really appreciate them and your support:)

  2. by Ilke
    4:31 pm
    Dec 6, 2010

    Hi Lora, Thanks for your comments!
    Hope your daughter is feeling better now!

  3. by Marc @ NoRecipes
    2:48 pm
    Dec 6, 2010

    I have a 5 pound lamb roast taking up almost half my freezer. I think I know what I’ll be making this weekend!

  4. by Kristi Rimkus
    8:47 pm
    Dec 6, 2010

    What a feast! You’re pictures are absolutely mouthwatering. I adore green beans, so I have to say, I would have eaten the whole platter. :)

  5. by Ilke
    4:24 am
    Dec 7, 2010

    Thanks Kristi :) Green beans is kinda tough veggie to love for me, so I am trying to make it in different ways. And I will start Healthy Mondays like you suggested :)

  6. by Marc
    1:14 am
    Dec 7, 2010

    Wow, you got a pretty site too…. nice dish.
    Love the way you cook and photography…Amersfoort is nearby where I live..keep following you;-)

  7. by Ilke
    4:22 am
    Dec 7, 2010

    Thanks for visiting, Marc! I like reading your posts as well! Your hazelnut mousse is still on my list, have not forgotten :)

  8. by Peggy
    6:24 am
    Dec 7, 2010

    Love the new look of your site Ilke! This dish looks like amazing comfort food and I’m sure it was absolutely delicious!

  9. by Ilke
    7:51 am
    Dec 7, 2010

    Thanks Peggy! Everything tastes great when you are having fun with friends :) Gotta put your buckeye cake in my menu next time :)

  10. by Rich
    7:46 am
    Dec 7, 2010

    I would like to say how delicious that looks, but I’m not sure exactly where I would start! but it also kind of breaks my heart that they’re opening a Wal-Mart over there, too. Sigh.

  11. by Ilke
    7:52 am
    Dec 7, 2010

    Thanks Rich! I am just hoping Walmart and Starbucks won’t take over the world anytime soon! It is crazy!

  12. by All That I'm Eating
    2:14 pm
    Dec 9, 2010

    Brussel sprouts…roasting in the oven?! What a revelation! So hungry now.

  13. by Emily
    9:46 pm
    Dec 9, 2010

    I know how you feel about those giant supermarkets. When I was young I love going to wet market with my mum. Although shopping in the supermarket is more convenient (being a one-stop shop and all), I miss the experience of hopping from stall to stall, bargaining and chatting with the stallers. :) Too bad, it is a change that we have to accept.
    Anyway, I love the lamb and brussel sprouts combo…the dish looks absolute delicious, yum.

  14. by Ilke
    10:34 am
    Dec 10, 2010

    Hi Emily,
    Unfortunately (and at the same time fortunately), it is hard to go against the change. Thanks for stopping by and commenting! :)

  15. by Mimi
    6:40 pm
    Dec 10, 2010

    Oh, yum, that is my kind of meal!

    I miss neighborhood grocery stores. Larger than mom-and-pop stores, smaller than supermarkets, they were community centers as well as places to buy food. My town still had one until about 11 years ago. It was a big deal when it opened in the 50s, or so I am told. Every neighborhood had a bakery, too. Love shopping that way!

  16. by Ilke
    6:52 pm
    Dec 10, 2010

    Hi Mimi,
    I miss the old, local way and hopefully people are becoming more conscious about where to shop and to buy local. Maybe, maybe … big and small all co-exist one day without driving each other out of business :)
    Thanks for stopping by!

  17. by Marea Davis
    1:06 pm
    Dec 12, 2010

    These pictures are stunning! I don’t think I’ve ever seen Brussels sprouts photographed so perfectly! I have to admit, I always chicken out when I go to the store to buy lamb, because I start thinking of the farm I drove by to get there (really silly because I can order it at restaurants and as much as I love chickens and cows I can buy their meat and prepare it!) but I am going to conquer that fear and make this recipe!!

    Tis a delicious way to start :] And I love that you run to the window for snow! I just got some for Thanksgiving and I think I was more excited than the 4 and 5 year olds I was with!

    <3 Marea @TheFoodieFixx

  18. by Ilke
    5:41 pm
    Dec 12, 2010

    Thanks Marea! When I think about the source of the meat, I have hard time as well. Especially when my husband teases me with “Ohh little, poor lamb”!! kills the appetite instantly!
    I love the romantic, clean snow :) Not the dirty slushy stuff on the roads afterwards. But I will put up with it for a little bit of snow time. It is hard to come by in South Carolina!
    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!


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