Antonio Ciminelli’s Famous Lamb With Orange and Lemon Zest

Lamb is one of the most popular ingredients in Roman cooking, and Antonio Ciminelli knows how to do it right. He uses lemon zest and orange on a roasted cut of this popular meat, giving it a silky slightly tart sauce.

Antonio Ciminelli’s Famous Lamb With Orange and Lemon Zest

What You Need

  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 orange;
  • 2 teaspoons chopped thyme;
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon;
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper;
  • One 5-pound butterflied leg of lamb;
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for rubbing;
  • 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter;
  • ¼ cup dry white wine;

How To Make It

Antonio Ciminelli’s Famous Orange and Lemon Zest

Step 1 Preheat the oven to 350°. Combine the thyme with the lemon zest and orange in a small bowl. In another small bowl, combine the lemon and orange juices.

Step 2 Set the lamb on a work surface, with the fat side down. After this, sprinkle ¼ cup of the citrus juice over it, season with pepper & salt, and sprinkle it with two-thirds of the zest mixture. Roll the meat up and tie it at intervals of 3-inch intervals with kitchen twine. Rub it with the remaining zest mixture and olive oil and season it with pepper and salt.

Step 3 Set the lamb in a medium roasting pan. Pour in a ¼ cup of water and the wine and roast it for about 30 minutes. After this, increase the oven temperature to 400°. Pour two tablespoons of the citrus juice over the lamb. Roast the lamb in the upper third of the oven for 45 minutes with an additional ¼ cup of water. Pour the citrus juice over the lamb and let it roast for 20 minutes longer.

Step 4 Transfer the meat to a carving board. After this, let it rest for 15 minutes. Scrape the juices from the pan into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Whisk in the butter and remove from the heat, 1 tablespoon at a time. Season the sauce with pepper and salt.

Step 5 Remove the twine from the meat. After this, carve it into thick slices, and serve it with the sauce.

Suggested Pairing

As chef Criminelli notes, locals usually eat lamb with Frascati, a white wine, rather than a red.


The tied and seasoned cut of lamb can be refrigerated overnight before cooking. Bring it to room temperature before roasting.