My sister-in-law was coming to visit for Easter a couple years ago and when my husband asked her what she wanted to the holiday dinner, she replied, “the usual.” That inspired a conversation about what “the usual” actually means – about how foods create traditions, especially around holiday menus.
For many ham and scalloped potatoes go together like Easter and eggs, but I’m always looking for a way to keep things fresh and interesting too.
Enter this beautiful recipe from an equally beautiful blog, Feasting at Home for Herb Crusted & Stuffed Leg of Lamb with Mint Gremolata. It’s the traditional lamb and mint pairing but done in a creative new way. And all the bright herbs make for a main course dish that looks like spring on a plate.
A big bowl of fluffy mashed potatoes with melty butter and some mixed color carrots rounds out the holiday table. And who knows… it may just be a new tradition in the making.
- 3.5- 5 lb leg of lamb - boneless, butterflied
- ½-¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- cracked pepper
- 1 cup herbs (a mix of 2 or 3 of the following) thyme, sage, rosemary
- 1 cup Italian parsley (about a ½ a bunch), tender stems ok
- 10 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- ½ tsp salt
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ? cup mint leaves, finely chopped
- ? cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon capers, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- 2 tablespoon onion or shallot, finely chopped
- salt if necessary
- Remove lamb from packaging and pat dry well. Trim away any unwanted fat. A little marbled fat is good, big chunks are not. It's ok to also remove some or all of the outer layer of fat if that doesn't appeal to you. Sprinkle all sides with ½-¾ teaspoon salt and pepper. Place outer side (side with fat) down.
- Make the herb paste: Place all the herbs, garlic, salt and pepper and lemon zest in a food processor and pulse until it becomes like very coarse sand. Add oil, scraping down the sides if necessary, pulse until just combined - not too smooth or oily. This should feel like a dry course paste. Spread ? of the paste on the inside of the lamb.
- Roll up the lamb, with the paste on the inside and tie at one inch intervals. You can either do individual strings and knots or wrap up with one very long string. It really doesn't need to be perfect, just do the best you can. Rub the remaining paste all over the outside of the lamb. If leaving the outer layer of fat on, score the fat a little with a knife and rub the paste into the slits. (At this point you can refrigerate for 1-2 days if making ahead, wrapping tightly in plastic wrap. Make sure to bring to room temp at least 1 hour before roasting.)
- You can either roast alone on a wire rack, over a pan or roast directly on your oven rack, with a sheet pan on the rack below to catch the drippings.
- Place lamb in a hot 425°F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 325°F. (If roasting directly on the oven rack, lower temp to 300°F.) Continue roasting for another 50 mins to 1.5 hours, or until lamb registers at least 125°F (rare) to 135°F, remembering that the size of the lamb will determine how long it takes to cook. What you don't want to do, is open the oven door too much, or fiddle with the heat too much.
- Remove the lamb from the baking dish and set aside to rest for 20 minutes.
- While the lamb is roasting make gremolata. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl.
- Slice the lamb and serve with mint gremolita.