Roast Leg of Lamb…hold the mint jelly, please.

Lamb and mint jelly…a most unlikely combination if you ask me.   I mean, do people really dislike the taste of this traditional Easter and Passover dish so much that they resort to pairing it with a mint condiment? Ack.

There are so many other ways one could go with lamb. Straight up, salt and pepper and in the oven. A simple wet marinade made with yogurt. Pick a country…chances are, you’ll find a great roast lamb recipe people love that doesn’t include mint jelly. Like this one from Mark Bittman:

Lamb with Herb Paste and Spinach

Serves 6-8

5-7 pound leg of lamb, preferably at room temp, shank removed if necessary

1/2C chopped fresh parsley

1/2C chopped fresh dill

3T evoo

4 anchovies, optional

2 garlic cloves, peeled

salt, fresh ground black pepper, to taste

2C coarse bread crumbs, preferably fresh

2T pine nuts

2T raisins or currants

1 pound fresh spinach, washed, chopped

Preheat your oven to 425. Remove as much fat from the lamb is practical. Combine parsley, dill, oil, anchovies and garlic in a food processor (if omitting anchovies…and you really shouldn’t…add a pinch of salt to the processor). Puree, add a bit of water if needed. Rub the mix into the skin of the lamb.

Put the lamb on a rack in a roasting pan with about 1/2C  water. Roast for 30 minutes, then check. If the lamb threatens to burn, turn the heat down to 350, otherwise, leave it at 425.  If bottom dries out, add a bit more water. After about an hour total cooking time, use an instant-read thermometer to check internal temperature…when it reaches 130 (medium rare) in its thickest part, it’s done. Total cooking time will be less than 90 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest.

Pour off and reserve all but 2T of the fat and put roasting pan on the burner or two if it fits. Toast the bread crumbs over low heat, stirring and seasoning with salt and pepper until they’re lightly browned. Remove; add 2T of the fat to the pan, toss in the pine nuts, raisins, spinach and cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the spinach is very tender and most of the liquid has evaporated.

Carve the lamb and serve it on a bed of the spinach, sprinkled with the toasted crumbs.

Recipe, courtesy Mark Bittman, New York Times

Instant-read thermometer pic, courtesy Outset

Here’s a place where you can get top quality Colorado Prime legs of lamb:

Kent McDonald is a Certified Personal Chef, living and working in Phoenix, AZ. (c) All rights reserved, 2011

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