Leg of Lamb Stuffed with Bulgur & Poppy-Seed Pilaf (Gemisto Arni me Pilafi)

March/April 1994

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Ask the butcher to partially bone the leg of lamb, removing the aitchbone, hip bone and leg center bone, but to leave the hindshank in place. The knobby end of the shank can be trimmed to make it more attractive. Make certain the butcher wraps the bones along with the meat; you will need them to make a broth for the pilaf. If you purchase a boned, butterflied leg, you can use canned chicken or beef stock in the pilaf.

Leg of Lamb Stuffed with Bulgur & Poppy-Seed Pilaf (Gemisto Arni me Pilafi)

Makes: 10 servings, with lamb leftovers

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Total Time:



  • 2 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper
  • 1 5-pound leg of lamb, partially boned and trimmed


  • 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large onions, finely chopped
  • 3 cups bulgur
  • 2/3 cup currants
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 5 cups Lamb Broth, (recipe follows; add water if necessary to make 5 cups), heated

This recipe calls for:


  1. To marinate lamb: Stir together yogurt, oil, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper in a large shallow dish. Add lamb and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
  2. To make pilaf: Meanwhile, toast poppy seeds in a small, dry skillet over low heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a small dish and set aside. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in bulgur, currants, thyme, salt, pepper and the toasted poppy seeds. Slowly pour in 1 cup of the hot broth and cook, stirring, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Repeat with enough of the remaining broth, adding it 1 cup at a time, until the bulgur is tender and fluffy. (You may not need all the broth.) Taste and adjust seasonings. Let cool completely.
  3. To stuff and roast lamb: Preheat oven to 450°F. Place the lamb, skin-side down, on a cutting board. Spread about 2 cups of the pilaf down the center of the meat, where the bones were removed. Bring the edges together and secure with kitchen string. Set on a rack in a roasting pan. Transfer the remaining pilaf to a lightly oiled 2-quart casserole and set aside.
  4. Roast the lamb for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. and roast for about 1 hour more, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 145°F for medium. During the last 1/2 hour of roasting, place the casserole of pilaf in the oven to heat through. Place the lamb on a carving board to rest for 15 to 30 minutes. Remove string and carve. (The pilaf may fall apart slightly.)

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: Marinate the lamb (Step 1) up to 4 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate the pilaf (Step 2) up to 2 days in advance. | Equipment: Kitchen string


Per serving: 449 calories; 13 g fat (4 g sat, 6 g mono); 97 mg cholesterol; 46 g carbohydrates; 40 g protein; 9 g fiber; 384 mg sodium; 816 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Selenium (49% daily value), Zinc (45% dv), Magnesium (29% dv), Iron (24% dv), Potassium (23% dv).

Carbohydrate Servings: 2 1/2

Exchanges: 3 starch, 4 1/2 lean meat

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Recipe Categories

Total Time
More than 1 hour
8 or more
Main Ingredient
Preparation/ Technique

Ease of Preparation
March/April 1994
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