By Joshua Wickham, Photography by Ryan Benyi
Lamb for spring. This delicate, nourishing meat is a celebration of the rebirth of the Earth when the greenest grasses rise and traditional feasts like Easter and Passover are celebrated. Spring lamb is born in the fall, raised on their mother’s milk in the winter and then fed early spring grasses. We show you how to prepare your own leg of lamb at home with a Dried Cherry-Almond Couscous and Sautéed Broccoli Hache to brighten and lighten the robust, smooth flavor of lamb. Enjoy. —Colleen Leonardi
Lemon and Garlic Roasted Leg of Lamb
6 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
4 tablespoons olive oil, with additional set aside for roasting
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
1 each 4–6 pound leg of lamb, boned and unrolled
2 cups chicken stock
Heat the oven to 425° and place a rack in the center.
Zest the three lemons and then cut in half to juice, set the juice aside. Place the lemon zest, garlic, parsley and four tablespoons of oil in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper. Stir until evenly combined; set aside.
Unroll the lamb, lay it flat on a cutting board and remove any large pieces of connective tissues. Season the lamb with salt and pepper, then spread the lemon-garlic-parsley paste over the seasoned meat. Roll the lamb back up and tie with twine to evenly secure. Season the exterior with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and place the leg in a roasting pan.
Place the lamb leg in the oven and reduce the temperature to 400°. Roast until the internal temperature reads 135°, about 1 to 1½ hours. Once removed from the oven, transfer to a cutting board and allow to rest for a minimum of 20 minutes, up to 30 minutes. Remove the twine and carve for serving.
While lamb is resting, deglaze the roasting pan with the chicken stock. Transfer to a small bowl, skim off any excess fat. Pour defatted juices into a small sauce pot and reduce lightly. Serve jus alongside of the sliced leg of lamb.
Dried Cherry-Almond Couscous
1½ cups chicken broth or stock
½ cup dried cranberries, lightly chopped
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup uncooked couscous (Moroccan style)
⅓ cup vegetable or canola oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
½ cup almonds, sliced, lightly toasted
⅓ cup scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, chopped
In 2-quart saucepan, heat broth, dried cherries and cumin to boiling. Remove from heat; stir in couscous. Cover; let stand 15 minutes. Fluff with fork.
In small bowl, beat oil and vinegar with whisk; pour over couscous. Add almonds, scallions and mint; toss well. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.
This is a great recipe as it uses the stems of the broccoli. The stems are sweet and provide a wonderful texture that is missing when just the flowerets are served. —JW
2 heads broccoli (about 2 pounds)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, cut into ½-inch dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
Cut stalks off the broccoli, and peel off the coarse fibrous skin using vegetable peeler. Dice stalks into ½-inch pieces, cut florets into ½-inch pieces, and set aside.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add chopped broccoli stalks and cook until stalks soften, about 3 minutes, tossing pan regularly to avoid any over-browning. Add broccoli florets, continuing to sauté until tender and bright green. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne. Serve hot.