Growing up, there was never any doubt what was for Easter dinner. Each year, my mother would stud a leg of lamb with cloves of garlic and sprigs of rosemary, season it with salt and pepper, then slow roast it for our afternoon feast.
For my family, I have to forgo the mammoth leg. Only one of my kids will eat lamb. Maybe it's all those children's shows where small fuzzy lambs are teaching our children how to spell or maybe they truly don't like it, but just the idea of having lamb on the table is a total turnoff for my kids. Somehow a pig is much more acceptable, so we usually go with ham.
But I can't resist buying a few chops for my husband and me, using a marinade from an old family friend. This year, I went in search of local lamb at , but I neglected to call ahead and they were out of it. So I ventured to Caraluzzi's and got a few chops and some delicious looking lamb and beef burgers.
On its own with a sprinkling of salt and pepper, lamb is delicious, a meat with a slightly gamey, earthy flavor. But add 30 minutes of marinating and the flavor is incredible.
This mixture of soy sauce and Dijon mustard is thick enough to coat the meat, yet permeates it as well if allowed to sit for a while. And rosemary was made to complement lamb. Dried rosemary is fine, but fresh sprigs are best. The dried herb is often brittle and uncomfortable to chew. But the fresh leaves are still tender and easily eaten with the meat.
The burger is a great way to introduce someone to lamb. The lamb/beef mixture is also more affordable than a chop, running about $3.99 per pound. The same marinade can be used to coat the burgers, forming a tasty crust. Lamb is a fatty meat, so the burgers are juicy and bursting with flavor when grilled.
Loin chops are my favorite cut of lamb. Think of them as small Porterhouse steaks, whereas the rib chops are more like the rib-eye equivalent. This website explains the different cuts of lamb, and because lamb is generally more expensive than beef, you want to know what you are getting and how to cook it.
For a leg of lamb, try this recipe, which is close to my how my mom used to cook it. For a butterflied leg of lamb, use my marinade (see the .pdf file in the media gallery) and grill it - there is no better way to cook lamb for a crowd. Because the bone is removed, the flavors from the marinade seep all the way through the whole cut.
What are your favorite Easter meals? Have you ever tried lamb? Fill us in on your Easter traditions.