From historical times, roasted lamb has been a traditional delicacy for ushering in the spring season. Roasted lamb is also the most savoured meat item in Easter dinner. There is a reason for association of lamb with the spring season. The natural breeding cycle of sheep results in ample production of lamb during the months of March and April. Hence we get to hear about the term spring lamb.
Before our mouth starts to water over a dish of roasted lamb, let’s differentiate between a lamb and a sheep. Formally, a lamb is a sheep that is less than a year old. A baby lamb is six to eight weeks old while a spring lamb is even younger. It is only three to five months of age. Once a lamb crosses its first birthday, it is referred to as ‘yearling’. It matures to mutton once it reaches its second birthday. Present day animal husbandry practices, allow you to obtain lambs of varying ages throughout the year.
Now let’s move on to intricacies behind roasted lamb. The most favoured part of lamb is the “rack of lamb”. Actually, rack is a cut from the rib section. Eight ribs constitute a full rack. If you happen to order a rack of lamb in a restaurant, you will be served with “Frenched” bones. This is an arrangement for beautification purposes only. The meat is scrapped off the ribs. Though the “Frenched” rack has visual appeal, it deprives you of the “true” taste of lamb. Devoted lamb admirers will suggest relishing of the meat first and thereafter nibbling on the bones.
Having said this far, let us get introduced to a highly popular lamb recipe for the next Easter- the roasted rack of lamb. To feed two, you will require 1 full rack of lamb; olive oil; 2 tablespoons of chopped rosemary; 2 tablespoons of chopped thyme; salt; pepper; a cup of red wine; 3 chopped garlic cloves and one tablespoon of butter.
First check whether the butcher has removed the chine bone from the rack. Next, trim excess fat from the rack without overdoing it. Apply olive oil lightly on the rack. Next sprinkle half the quantity of rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper on both sides of the rack. With a grate at the bottom, place the rack on your roasting pan and then put it into a pre-heated oven at 375 degree. Continue to cook when a thermometer placed at the dead centre of the meat shows readings of 125 degrees for rare; 130 for medium rare; and 135 for medium.
After cooking, allow the roast to rest for a while on a serving plate covered with an aluminium foil. Let the meat re-absorb the juices and the foil keep it warm. To prepare the sauce, pour wine on the roasting pan and bring it to boil. Add the other half of rosemary, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper. When the quantity of the sauce reduces to half, add butter. Prepare individual chops from the roasted mass and serve hot after spreading sauce over them. To make the dish even more delicious, you can substitute homemade beef or veal stock for the wine. A composition of stock and wine would be the best bet.
Americans consume a pound of roasted lamb or other lamb delicacies throughout the year. You will be interested to know that lamb is a delicacy that is even more popular in other parts of the world. Particularly, inhabitants of the Mediterranean countries savour it. The item is conspicuous in so many dinner tables during the Easter.