I may be forced to switch careers to something not food-related. I mean, food is just so good. This photo does not do dinner justice. (And yes, I realize that is not a suitable serving size for meat and potatoes. Did I mention the roasted lamb and garlicky lemon potatoes? And how good they were? I knew to take lots from picking at the crispy bits.) I’d like to say we also ate salad, but there just wasn’t room.
And the funny thing? It’s one of the easiest things I’ve ever made. Why is it that the celebratory stuff – the edibles that make a huge splash – always end up being the simplest? What are we so afraid of?
(Ha – I thought this thought felt familiar – I had the same reaction last time I made roast leg of lamb!)
Lamb, of course, is all over the place in spring, and very often makes its way onto an Easter table. Cooking an entire leg of lamb, however, can be a hassle, mostly due to its shape – thick on one end, tapered on the other, it’s difficult to cook evenly without one end being overcooked or the other raw. Deboned legs of lamb are good alternatives – without bones it’s a more uniform cut of meat, and stuffable – but in general meat roasted on the bone has more flavour.
The other thing about leg of lamb, whether it’s the entire leg or just the shank portion, is that it has a lot of tough connective tissues which need long, slow cooking in order to break them down.
Enter my CrockPot. (While we’re on the subject, I stopped by Zellers today, and while chasing W down the small appliances aisle noticed that CrockPots – the same kind I gave away awhile ago – are 50% off this week – only $24.95! Twenty-four! Ninety-five!) Lamb is the perfect candidate for a slow cooker. I bought an entire leg, bone in, and when it looked like it might not fit (I told the butcher I planned to jam it into my CrockPot) he simply sawed off the shank. Perfect.
Now, any number of flavours go with lamb. You don’t need to rub it down with anything, but I chose to make a sort of rough paste out of garlic, rosemary, lemon and olive oil and smear it all over the meat first. Cumin would have worked well too, or fresh thyme. At this point you could leave it to sit for a bit, or refrigerate it overnight to let it marinate. Then all I did was toss it into the slow cooker – no need to brown it first, although you could – pour about a half cup of red wine or stock or tomato juice or water around it, and leave it to cook on low for 6-8 hours.
Slow-cooked Leg of Lamb with Garlic, Lemon & Rosemary (in the CrockPot!)
1 leg of lamb (that will fit in your CrockPot – if not, get the butcher to cut off the shank end) – with or without bone
4-5 garlic cloves, sliced or crushed
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. coarse salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
some wine, chicken or beef stock, tomato juice or water
On a chopping board, pat your lamb dry with paper towels. Finely grate about half the zest off the lemon and grind into a paste with the garlic, rosemary, oil, salt and pepper using a mortar and pestle. Rub the paste all over the lamb. If you like, let it sit on the countertop for half an hour or so, or refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
Put it into the CrockPot. Add about half a cup of liquid. Squeeze the juice of the lemon overtop too. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
And the only thing to serve with roast lamb is lemon potatoes. So I offer up this recipe:
Lemon Potatoes with Garlic and Oregano
3 lbs. Yukon gold or baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup olive or canola oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed or thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano, crumbled
1 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup beef or chicken stock
1/3 cup lemon juice
chopped fresh oregano (optional)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Spread the potatoes in a single layer in a 9″ x 13″ baking dish and pour the oil over them. Add the garlic, dried oregano, salt and pepper to taste and toss well to coat with the oil.
Roast the potatoes for 15 minutes. Add the stock, toss and bake for 10 minutes more. Add the lemon juice, toss and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more, or until the potatoes are golden and cooked through. If you like, sprinkle with fresh oregano.
April 06 2009 07:45 pm | leftovers