By Chef Domenica Catelli
It’s almost Easter Sunday. Growing up in an Italian American family, we had our Easter meal traditions. There may have been a variety of side dishes depending on the weather or what month Easter fell on in a given year, but there was one entree for certain: lamb. Usually we made a boneless leg of lamb, roasted with garlic and rosemary. Some years we varied it with rack or chops.
Some people, however, tend to hesitate when I suggest lamb for dinner. Many had bad childhood experiences with a strong, muttony, overcooked piece of meat that set the tone for the upcoming decades.
I remember one Easter dinner in particular when dear family friends joined us for a meal. They are a brother and sister in their fifties and had bonded over their dislike of lamb since they were kids, so they hated this entrée for most of their life. When I put the lamb on the table and persuaded Sugar (that’s the sister’s name) to give it a try, her brother Bill felt like she had betrayed him. He stayed firm in his 40+-year belief that he didn’t like lamb. Sugar, throwing caution to the wind, faced her food fear and LOVED it!
Give this simple recipe a try and see if you can create some “Sugars” around your Easter table.
Roasted Rosemary Leg of Lamb
2.5-3 pounds boneless leg of lamb
6-8 fresh garlic cloves
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup fresh mint leaves
¼ cup minced fresh rosemary
Cracked black pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
If lamb is rolled or in a roast net, take out.
Mix herbs, oil, salt and pepper together.
Rub both sides of meat generously with mix while reserving 1 tablespoon.
Place lamb in a baking dish.
When oven is to temperature add lamb and cook for approximately 15 minutes or until it turns a nice golden color.
Cover loosely with foil and continue to cook for another 10-20 minutes depending on thickness of lamb and how you like your meat cooked. I prefer medium rare for taste and texture. Try to avoid well done because the meat will dry out and take on a much stronger taste.
Remove from oven and let meat rest for about 5 minutes. Slice thin, drizzle with the remaining herb and oil mix, and serve.
Makes great lamb sandwiches for leftovers as well.