Colorado Leg of Lamb with Creamy Goat Cheese Polenta, Bacon-Wrapped Radicchio, and Lamb Jus

Image Used with Permission
  • Lamb
  • 1 (7-10 pound) American Lamb leg, deboned, trim reserved
  • 1⁄4 cup chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Lamb Jus
  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil
  • Reserved lamb trim
  • 1⁄2 cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 1⁄4 cup thinly sliced garlic
  • 2 ripe beefsteak or vine-ripened tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 quart veal demi-glace
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Goat Cheese Polenta
  • 51⁄2cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup coarsely ground polenta (not instant)
  • 1 cup good quality goat cheese (such as Haystack Mountain)
  • 3⁄4 cup crème frâiche
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Bacon-Wrapped Radicchio
  • 2-4 heads Radicchio di Treviso*, quartered or halved (for pieces at least 11⁄2 inches wide)
  • 1⁄2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1⁄2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 16 pieces thick-sliced bacon


“We get whole lambs in and primal cuts like saddle and break those down into the loin and use the bone for stock. In this recipe, we use leftover lamb trim to make a rich, flavorful sauce to accompany the leg of lamb. The radicchio pairs with the lamb because it’s crisp and bitter but still has some richness and smokiness from the bacon as well as acid from the balsamic vinegar. Adding the polenta brings a creamy element to the dish for a variety of textures and balance.” — Jennifer Jasinski, executive chef, Rioja

Yield: 8 servings


  1. Season the lamb with rosemary, oil, salt, and pepper. Marinate at least 1 hour before cooking.
  2. Grill lamb to desired temperature, starting with larger pieces so all cuts finish cooking at the same time. Remove from heat; let rest 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Slice against the grain into 1⁄4-inch pieces. Serve with about 1⁄4 cup of the lamb jus, warmed goat cheese polenta, bacon-wrapped radicchio, roasted tomato garnish, and a rosemary sprig.  

Lamb Jus

  1. In a saucepot over medium heat, add oil and reserved lamb trim and cook until browned. Add shallots and garlic, cooking until golden.
  2. Add tomatoes, thyme, peppercorns and wine; scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze, cooking until reduced to a syrup consistency. Add demi-glace and bring to a simmer, skimming away impurities, until sauce coats the back of a spoon.
  3. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer; season to taste with salt and pepper. Hold warm until ready to serve. 

Goat Cheese Polenta

  1. In a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, bring stock to a simmer. Slowly stir in the polenta with a whisk; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; continue to cook, stirring often, for 1 hour or until granules are tender.
  2. Remove from heat; stir in cheese, crème frâiche, and thyme. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover; keep warm until ready to serve (add additional stock to prevent hardening).

Bacon-Wrapped Radicchio

  1. Gently toss the radicchio pieces in a bowl with oil, vinegar, and sugar. Season with salt and pepper. Marinate at least 1 hour or overnight.
  2. Wrap each radicchio piece tightly with one bacon piece at a time, starting from the core end and wrapping toward the top. Use a second bacon piece to cover the tip. Repeat until all radicchio pieces are wrapped.
  3. Grill each side of the wrapped radicchio over medium heat, rolling once, until bacon is crisp and caramelized. Set aside.

*Radicchio di Treviso is less common in the U.S. than radicchio di Chioggia, resembling a large Belgian endive with red- and white-veined leaves. Chioggia radicchio can be used if necessary.

Chef’s Notes: The Lamb Sauce can be prepared 1 day in advance. The lamb and Treviso can be marinated 1 day in advance as well.