No matter what you celebrate—Passover, Easter or Ramadan—you need a big, family-sized roast in your back pocket.
Anything porcine is out of the question for many. A brace of chickens too small, a three-bone beef rack too flimsy. A leg of lamb is just about perfect.
You can roast two side by side in any oven for a really big group. For sheer elegance, nothing beats the appearance of a long, bone-in leg hitting the dining or buffet table. I make this recipe with goat legs as well, I just don’t cook them as long.
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And don’t be afraid of leftovers! Lamb hash with a fried egg, sliced lamb sandwiches, or a Scotch barley soup all trip my trigger.
Duskie Eskes made the best darn pickled cherries I ever tasted, and she shared the recipe with me long ago. I think I tweaked it slightly, but if you love them, the credit goes to her. The tart sweetness is perfect with any roast, but really nice with crispy lamb fat. I always make some homemade mint jelly to go with this, too. Enjoy.
Passover Lamb with Pickled Cherries
Servings: 4 to 6
Total: 2 hours 15 minutes
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup water
One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 jalapeño, thinly sliced crosswise
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 small cinnamon stick
1 star anise pod
1 bay leaf
1 pound Bing cherries, pitted
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced rosemary
2 tablespoons minced thyme
One let of lamb, roughly 4 1/2 pounds, at room temperature (aitch bone removed)
Make the Cherries
In a medium saucepan, combine all of the ingredients except the cherries and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Let cool completely, then add the cherries and let stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours. Drain the cherries and transfer to a bowl; discard the brine.
For the Lamb
Preheat the oven to 400° and set a rack on a baking sheet. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil with the garlic, rosemary and thyme. Season the lamb generously with salt and pepper. Rub the garlic-herb oil all over the lamb and transfer it to the rack.
Roast the lamb for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat registers 130°. Transfer the lamb to a carving board and let rest for 30 minutes. Carve the lamb and serve with the pickled cherries.
MAKE AHEAD The drained pickled cherries can be refrigerated overnight.
NOTES If you can find it, try using milk-fed lamb that’s about eight weeks old. The legs will be very small (a few pounds), but do several and cook them for a little less time. If you are using spring lamb, don’t go for anything older than three-to-five months, born in late winter or early spring. These should weigh about 4 pounds with the aitch bone and shank off.
Originally published in Andrew Zimmern’s Kitchen Adventures on foodandwine.com.
Photograph by Madeleine Hill.
PS Here are some of my favorite spring recipes:
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