By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat
Food is always better in season. Our ancestors knew this. Before food was industrialized, we would wait for that particular time of year that each fruit and vegetable would reach its peak of flavor and nutrition, when it would arrive at the markets with great anticipation. The first plump, juicy cherries, the first sweet corn of the year, the first fragrant peaches—were awaited eagerly and consumed with joy. People welcomed the first spring lamb of the year. This lamb, nourished by the rich green grass of spring, often flavored by the young flowers and herbs also loved by sheep, had a tenderness and flavor that was exquisite, beyond compare.
Lamb is available all year round now, and is not very popular in the United States. Most lamb raised in the US has been bred to gargantuan sizes, finished on grain rather than grass, and tastes nothing like the lamb humanity has enjoyed for most of history. No wonder people don’t like it. I don’t like it. But you can still find the real spring lamb, lamb finished on the sweet green grass of spring, lamb that is mild and sweet and tender, infused with the flavor of herbs, lamb that is absolutely delicious.
This lamb is at its absolute best when cooked on the bone, with the flavor of the meat being enhanced by the marrow, and the internal cooking aided by the heat conducted by the bone. It is even better when naturally basted with a cap of its own natural fat.
You can only find the real traditional lamb from grassfed farmers, who raise lamb the traditional way. This recipe was made with a bone in leg of lamb from Northstar Bison, whose lamb is exquisite (as is their bison).
No people honored lamb more than the Greeks, a tradition going back thousands of years. I have used Greek flavors with this wonderful grassfed lamb. Once you taste this lamb, you will understand why spring lamb was so valued.
Roast Spring Lamb on the Bone
1 (4-5½ pound) bone in leg of lamb, (if you cannot find a whole leg of lamb this small, you could use a half leg of lamb of equivalent weight)
4 cloves organic garlic, quartered
1 medium sized organic lemon, well washed
2 teaspoons fresh organic thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dried organic or imported oregano, preferably Greek or Italian
1 teaspoon freshly ground organic black pepper
1 teaspoon coarse unrefined sea salt, preferably French, crushed
4 tablespoons unfiltered organic extra virgin olive oil
- The night before you plan to cook the roast, cut 16 slits, about an inch deep, all over the top and sides of the lamb. Push a garlic quarter into each slit, as deep as it will go.
- Roll the lemon on a flat, hard surface, pressing down with your hand. This will help release the juice. Cut the lemon in quarters, and squeeze the juice into a glass bowl. Remove any seeds from the bowl. Reserve the lemon quarters.
- Add the thyme, oregano, pepper, salt, and olive oil to the lemon juice, and mix well to make a marinade. Place the lamb in a glass bowl, and coat well with the marinade. Crush the lemon quarters a bit in your hand (warning, your hand will smell like lemon), and press the yellow side of the lemon quarters into the meat. Cover, and refrigerate overnight.
- Remove the lamb from the refrigerator an hour before you plan to start cooking it, so it can come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Place the lamb in a roasting pan, fat side up, and pour any marinade left in the bowl over the lamb. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, baste with the pan drippings, and return to the oven. Cook for another 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, baste with the pan drippings, and return to the oven. Turn the heat down to 300 degrees. Cook for another 30 to 50 minutes, depending on how you like your lamb.
Serve and enjoy! Remember that lamb tastes best when it is hot, not warm.
This recipe is part of Real Food Wednesday Blog Carnival at Kelly the Kitchen Cop.
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