I’m still thinking beer…

…and I’m still shifting my food thoughts from winter to spring.  The stores are rolling out the latest in gas and charcoal grills, from mini-kettles for less than $50 to massive grill-rotisserie-side-burners-under-counter-refrigerator-with-overhead-lighting-for-late-night-grilling models that cover almost as many square feet as my first apartment and cost 3 months’ rent. That most will never see much beyond a ball-park hot dog and a tired chicken breast is another story.

But spring is lamb time. Delicate, tiny baby lamb chops, two bites each, with their frenched bones and their succulent juiciness, right next to the big ol’ leg of lamb, the kind of cut you toss over your shoulder as you leave the market, heading home to feed at least 8, maybe more.

Excuse me Emeril, but at this time of year, lamb rules. And this recipe, courtesy of Tyler Florence, incorporates dark beer, ingredients most everyone would have on hand and not one bit of fuss.

Roast Leg of Lamb with Dark Beer, Honey and Thyme
Serves 8

7-8 pound leg of lamb, thighbone removed, and shin bone in ( have your butcher handle this for you)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3T fresh thyme leaves
3T extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
2C Guinness
1/2C honey
1t juniper berries, crushed
2 bay leaves

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Open the leg of lamb and season the inside with half the garlic and half the thyme leaves, 1T olive oil, salt and pepper. Tie the lamb closed with butcher’s twine (if you don’t have this, ask the same butcher for some…he has plenty). Place the lamb in a roasting pan, season the outside with salt and pepper, and brush it with olive oil.

In a bowl, mix the beer, honey the rest of the garlic and thyme, juniper berries and bay leaves. Pour this over the lamb and put into oven. Immediately reduce heat to 325C. Baste every 10 minutes. Cook 12-13 minutes per pound for medium rare or until the internal temperature reaches 130-135F.

Remove from the oven, cover loosely with a tin foil “tent” and let rest for about 10 minutes before carving. While you’re waiting, considering making a pan gravy with the drippings.

A bowl of steamed broccoli tossed with some chopped parsley and lemon zest, some mashed, skin-on red bliss potatoes and you have yourself dinner, and one you can only have this time of year.

Chops pic courtesy of http://www.austrailianmade.us
Leg of lamb pic courtesy of bfeedme.com

Kent McDonald is a Certified Personal Chef, living and working in Phoenix, AZ. (c) All Rights Reserved, 2009

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