Recipe: Butterfly your meat for ease and flavor

Courtesy Lynda Balslev

This simple yet elegant lamb recipe is a wonderful way to ease into spring. The lamb is butterflied, a method that prepares meat for easy roasting or grilling. Butterflying involves making small cuts in the flesh of the meat and opening it up, a bit like a book, into a wider, flatter piece of meat. Since it will be slightly irregular in thickness, it ensures a cut of meat for everyone's taste, whether rare or more well-cooked, while it also reduces the overall cooking time. Not only that, but once spread out, there is a greater surface area exposed to the heat or fire, guaranteeing brown and crispy cooking. And who doesn't like the crispy bits?

Begin marinating the meat the night before to tenderize and drive in flavor. This will also lighten your workload before the meal. Serve with any collected juices and, if you like, a sauce on the side, such as the minty yogurt sauce below. 

This recipe specifies oven roasting. If you prefer to grill, then sear the lamb over direct medium heat, fat side down first, then flip. Once evenly browned on both sides, continue to grill the meat, fat side up, over indirect heat until it reaches your desired temperature.

Butterflied Leg of Lamb With Yogurt Mint Sauce

Active time: 15 minutes

Total time: about 1 hour, plus marinating time

Yield: Serves 6 


▶ 1 boneless leg of lamb, about 3 1/2 pounds, butterflied, trimmed of excess fat

▶ 2 teaspoons kosher salt

▶ 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

▶ 4 garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a press

▶ 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

▶ 1 tablespoon olive oil 

▶ 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

▶ 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

▶ 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

Yogurt Sauce:

▶ 1 1/2 cups whole milk Greek yogurt

▶ 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

▶ 2 garlic cloves, minced or pushed through a press

▶ 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

▶ 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

▶ 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 

▶ 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

▶ Dash of hot sauce, such as Sriracha, or more to taste

Evenly season the lamb with the salt and black pepper. Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Smear the mixture all over the lamb and in any folds or crevices. Cover the meat with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before roasting.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the lamb in a roasting pan. Roast in the oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat reaches 125 to 130 degrees for medium-rare, about 40 minutes, depending on the thickness of the lamb (the internal temperature will increase slightly while resting). Transfer the lamb to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. 

While the lamb is roasting, combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl. Carve the lamb in thick slices. Serve with the yogurt sauce. 

Lynda Balslev is an award-winning writer, cookbook author, and recipe developer based in northern California. Visit TasteFood at 


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