Baste your lamb with a herb brush made from rosemary, thyme and bay leaves as it cooks to replicate the laurel branches used by 'asadores' in the Argentine countryside.






Skill level

Average: 5 (1 vote)


  • 2–2.5 kg (4 lb 6 oz–5½ lb) leg of lamb, deboned
  • 1 garlic bulb
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) lemon juice
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) olive oil
  • 3 lemons, cut in half
  • ensalada criolla (recipe here), to serve
  • soft bread rolls, to serve

Herb brush

  • 4–5 fresh bay leaves
  • 12 thyme sprigs
  • 6 rosemary sprigs

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Marinating time: 6 hours

Sitting time: 1.5 hours in total

1. Cut 6–8 deep diagonal slashes into the skin side of the lamb. Place the lamb in a large non-metallic baking dish, skin side up.

2. Separate the garlic cloves. Leaving the skin on, smash the cloves with the flat side of a knife and place in the dish with the lamb. Pour over the lemon juice and olive oil and place the lemon halves in the dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

3. Remove the lamb from the fridge 1 hour before cooking. Remove the garlic and lemon from the marinade and set aside.

4. To make the herb brush, use kitchen string to firmly tie the herbs to the end of a skewer or a disposable bamboo chopstick. This will act like a long brush, keeping your hand away from the direct heat.

5. Preheat a barbecue hotplate to high. When smoking hot, place the lamb, skin side down, on the hotplate and cook for 15 minutes, until well browned and aromatic. Don’t be tempted to move the lamb during this initial cooking time, as lifting or moving the lamb will release the heat from the hotplate. Use the herb brush to brush the emitting oil all over the lamb, then reduce the heat to medium and turn the lamb over. Close the barbecue lid and cook for 20 minutes, brushing every 5 minutes or so.

6. Remove the lamb from the barbecue, wrap in foil and rest for 30 minutes.

7. While the lamb is resting, place the reserved garlic and lemon on the barbecue hotplate and cook until tender and charred.

8. Transfer the lamb to a serving dish and top with the charred lemon and garlic. Slice the lamb and serve with ensalada criolla and fresh, soft bread rolls.


Recipe from The Food of Argentina by Ross Dobson and Rachel Tolosa Paz, Smith Street Books, RRP $44.99