Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Olive Pesto

Buttermilk is a wonderful tenderizing agent. It will not draw out juices, nor will it alter the flavour of the meat in any way. Sheep farms cover large areas of South Africa, therefore it is a traditional Sunday lunch treat.


  • 1 leg of lamb, boned and opened butterfly-style (ask the butcher to 'vlek' the meat)
  • ½ cup (125 ml) buttermilk
  • Ina Paarman's Rosemary & Olive Seasoning
  • olive oil
  • 2 x 125 ml Ina Paarman's Olive Pesto

For the garnish

  • lemon halves
  • fresh rosemary

Score the meat 2 mm deep all over with a chef’s knife.Coat the leg with buttermilk and leave covered in a glass dish in the fridge overnight. The next day, dry meat with paper towel. Season with Rosemary & Olive Seasoning and rub with olive oil. Squeeze and spread about ½ of the Olive Pesto on both sides of the meat.

We prefer to braai the lamb in a kettle braai, or a gas braai with a lid.

Prepare a medium hot fire. Move the coals to the outer perimeters of the braai and place a foil container with 1 cup (250 ml) of water under the grid in the middle. Place the lamb best side down. Close the lid.

Cook for about 15 minutes until nicely browned. Turn with a pair of tongs. Baste the cooked side with Olive Pesto. When the other side is nicely browned, turn and baste again. Continue turning and basting.

Grill lemon halves on cut sides.

Use a meat thermometer to test when meat is done. Don’t overcook meat; it must still be slightly pink and juicy. Cooking time varies between 45 – 60 minutes, depending on thickness of joint and intensity of heat.

Rest under foil for 10 minutes before carving. Carve meat into thin slices

Serve with grilled lemon halves on the side. Garnish with fresh rosemary.

Ina's Tip

For Kosher households, you can replace the buttermilk with ¼ cup fresh lemon juice and ¼ cup olive oil, mixed with 1 T of finely crushed paw-paw (papaya) seeds. It is a great tenderiser.

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