In New Orleans, lamb is a popular dish for the Easter feast. However, I have another memory that I associated with lamb. My maternal grandmother found out that I liked lamb. She would buy leg of lamb with the intention of inviting me over to eat, since many in the family did not care for lamb. Even though she was advancing in age, at least once a year I would get the invite for a lamb dinner.
So today, I will share with you a couple of lamb preparations, one using a leg of lamb and one using lamb shanks. You can find both of these at local stores. If you like lamb, you will love these dishes.
This is my version of the dish that my grandmother would prepare for me. It is close to the flavor that I remember hers to have. It is delicious to eat, but still not quite as good as hers.
Roasted Leg of Lamb
1 whole Leg of Lamb, about 6-9 pounds
20 cloves of Garlic, large ones cut in half lengthwise
Prepare leg by removing most of the visible fat. Cut slits into the top portion of the roast with a small sharp knife. Insert garlic clove into each slit and push down with finger until it is no longer visible. Rub the herbs and Creole seasoning all over the surface. Do the same with the olive oil. Splash with wine and rub again. Cover and let meat marinade for at least 3 hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before roasting.
Preheat oven to 450℉. Place the lamb leg in a shallow roasting pan. Roast for 10-15 minutes for the initial searing, and then reduce the temperature of the oven to 350℉. Continue roasting for 8 minutes per pound for rare, 10 minutes per pound for medium, or 18 minutes per pound for well done. Baste occasionally with pan juices. Remove roast from oven when done. Tent with aluminum foil and let rest 10-20 minutes before carving. Meanwhile, reduce the liquids in the pan and deglaze to get all the bits from the bottom of the pan. Add wine, beef stock or water if necessary.
I have seen a nice selection of lamb shanks at the local large grocery store. The best way to prepare them is to braise them in liquid over a long period of time. This will give you a delicious lamb dish that falls right off the bone.
Braised Lamb Shanks
4 Lamb Shanks, about 1 pound each
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 teaspoons Creole Seasoning
2 Onions, cut into chunks
2 large Carrots, cut into thisk coins
3 stalks Celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
8 cloves Garlic, peeled and crushed
2 Bay Leaves
1 teaspoon Marjoram
2 sprigs Fresh parsley
1 Orange ,cut into eights
1 1/2 cup White Wine
Preheat oven to 350℉.
Trim as much fat as you can off the lamb shanks, unless they are already trimmed. Don’t get too zealous about this; there should be a little fat still there. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil until it shimmers. Season the shanks with Creole seasoning. Brown the shanks on all sides and remove from the pan. Place the shanks into a roasting pan. Add all the other ingredients around it except for the wine. Put the skillet back onto the burner on medium heat. Add the wine and bring to a boil, while whisking to deglaze the pan. Hold at a light boil for about 2 minutes, then pour over the shanks. Add enough water or beef stock to come about 1/3 up the sides of the shanks. Cover, or wrap with aluminum foil, the roasting pan and cook for 90 minutes, turning the shanks every 30 minutes. After 90 minutes, remove the cover, turn the shanks and roast for another 30 minutes. The meat should be falling off the bone with just a touch of a fork, if not add more liquid, if necessary, and continue to cook uncovered until done. Discard the vegetables. Strain the pan juices, skim off the fat and reduce until you have about 1 cup of liquid to serve with the lamb.
I hope you enjoy these lamb dishes as much as I do. While some may find the flavor a little gamey, I enjoy the difference and I think you will as well.