Americans are funny when it comes to lamb. We consume around 61 pounds of beef and 26 chickens per person per year, but less than one measly pound of lamb. Perhaps it has something to do with comedian Shari Lewis’s Lamb Chop, the personification of a lamb sock puppet that took America by storm in the 60’s. Lamb Chop was, basically, a precocious, vulnerable six-year-old girl. It’s probably harder to eat something when you hear it talking to you in the voice of a child.
I’ve also read that we can blame it on World War II and the soldiers who came back from Europe sick and tired of years on the frontline eating mutton dressed as lamb. When at last they came home, lamb got the boot.
Whatever the reason, it’s a shame more folks don’t give lamb a try. My family was a bit of an anomaly, I guess. Lamb was a holiday staple. My Mom served it with mint jelly, something that still makes me cringe and my sister gag. I’ve updated my Mom’s lamb recipe (no mint jelly!), and it’s become a holiday staple in my house.
Despite claims of a gamey taste, lamb has a mild flavor. I live in Colorado, so I buy Colorado lamb, which is coveted and can be hard to find, but New Zealand and Australian lamb are readily available at pretty much any large grocery. Ewe should try it!
- one bone-in leg of lamb (aitchbone removed)
- 1 cup parsley
- 1/2 cup rosemary (stems removed)
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (more if you need it)
- 4 garlic cloves
- zest of one lemon
- juice of one lemon
- one TBSP salt
- one tsp pepper
- Combine all of the ingredients except the lamb in a food processor. Process approximately one minute or until you have a nice paste.
- Rub the paste on the leg of lamb and let it sit at room temperature for about thirty minutes.
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place lamb on a roasting rack inside a large roasting pan.
- Cook at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
- Drop the oven temperature to 350 degrees and cook for about two more hours or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat reads 135 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove lamb from oven, tent with aluminum foil, and let it rest for fifteen minutes.
- Carve and serve with au jus using the juice and drippings from the bottom of the pan.
Tip: Use a digital thermometer that you can leave in the meat, set it to 135 degrees Fahrenheit and don’t open the oven door to peek.