Easter Lamb

For years, I claimed that most lamb was 100% grass-fed, since lambs grow fairly quickly (8-10 months) and can thrive on minimal land.  So imagine my surprise when I discovered that over half of American lamb is actually confined and “finished” on fed grain (GMO CORN!) To make this more complicated this past January, the USDA  withdrew the Grass (Forage) Fed Claim and verification for livestock. This means that no one will be checking to see if your grass fed meat is REALLY 100% grass-fed. This is more reason to only purchase meat from a trusted local farmer.

As lamb sales increase this week because of Easter, consider lamb over pork IF you are standing at the grocery counter looking over the meat selection.
Lamb is a better choice if you are worried about the humaneness with which your meat is raised. There are a few large feedlots which raise lamb in Colorado, but generally, lamb is a better choice. Most lamb are raised outdoors and most are on grass for at least the first part of their lives. Knowing your farmer is the most optimal in determining that meat is raised safely, organically, and humanely. Look for local lamb.

I am often asked why grass fed is better and here is why
Grass-fed meat is higher in …
Carotenoids and trace nutrients.
Saturated fat.
CLA and TVA (super healthy fats)

…than grain fed.

I was asked this week about New Zealand and Australian Lamb:
Our meat growers down under have had some poor grass years and are turning to grain fed to finish their lamb (not so much in New Zealand, but Australia is quickly transitioning to grain-finishing). Most of the imported lamb in the US, comes from New Zealand, as there is a lamb shortage (internationally) and most Australian Lamb goes to the Middle East and China.

So let’s get down to cooking this lamb. (Hopefully up have not lost your appetite after reading this)

This recipe calls for a deboned leg of lamb. Legs vary in size with an average leg being 4.5 pounds for a locally raised deboned leg of lamb. I personally prefer the leg with the bone in, but most home cooks prefer a deboned lamb leg.
The cooking time will be a bit longer if you have a leg with the bone it it, but use a thermometer to ensure the doneness of your meat.
Butterflied simply means that the bone has been removed or the meat was sliced away from the bone.  Simply fold the two ends in and flip the lamb leg over before placing in roasting pan.
Preheat oven to 450°F
1 4.5 lb lamb leg – deboned
For the paste mixture rub:
4 garlic cloves minced
¼ cup of rosemary leaves
8 whole garlic cloves
8 sprigs of thyme – leaves removed
juice of one lemon
For deglazing the pan:
1 cup red wine
1 cup stock – beef or lamb or chicken
2 onions minced
Make a paste mixture of minced garlic, lemon juice and rosemary & thyme leaves. Season the meat with salt and pepper and rub the lamb all over with paste. Smooth it evenly all over the surface of the meat. Allow the lamb to rest for one hour with the paste/seasonings at room temperature.
Place the lamb in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and cook for about 1 hour longer, or until the internal temperature of the lamb is 135° (rare) or 145° (medium). Be sure the thermometer does not touch the bone (if there is one). Remove from the oven and put the lamb on a platter; cover tightly with aluminum foil. Allow the lamb to rest for about 20-30 minutes before slicing.
While the lamb is resting, deglaze the pan:
Using the pan that the meat was cooked in, place the pan over the burner and turn on the burner to medium. Pour in the wine and stock and mix with the drippings. Add the minced onions to pan, and stir to combine. Scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon to release any meat particles, then stir continuously to cook and reduce. Reduce over high heat until it forms a sauce consistency. Slice lamb and serve with sauce drizzled over the top.Spinach

Serve this with Spinach Souffle



Other Easter Recipes:

Spinach Souffle
Sticky Buns
Lamb with Tabil and Preserved Lemons

PUBLISHED for BA50 3/26/2016

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