Many people shy away from cooking lamb for an array of reasons. Some people don’t like it. Others think it is “fancy” food, and it’s true, certain cuts of lamb can be expensive. Some just may not have a clue how to cook it.
I am a big fan of lamb, especially of the pasture-raised, local, grass-fed variety. The meat is tender and flavorful, providing a nice break from routine. The good news is cooking lamb is no more difficult than preparing any other meat.
Some find lamb gamey in flavor. The best way to remedy this is to trim away the fat before you eat it (but not before you cook it – the fat is essential in cooking lamb), and to provide some vinegar, garlic, or herbs as a counterpoint to cut through the flavor. The gaminess also depends on the cut you choose. Lamb chops and leg of lamb tend to be a bit gamier, which is why so many people pair them with mint sauce. Rack of lamb or rib cuts, on the other hand, are tender and delicious without a hint of game.
Today, I will offer you two ways to prepare lamb. Both are simple and delicious. The “fancy” preparation I save for special occasions – though it is shockingly easy to prepare. The other I will often serve for regular meals.
Leg of Lamb with Roasted Garlic and Shallots
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 tablespoons dry oregano
- 3 cloves garlic, pressed through a press
- Three bulbs garlic (or more)
- Six shallots (or more)
- Drizzle olive oil
- One leg of lamb, butterflied with bone removed
- Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- Chopped, fresh rosemary
- Pour vinegar, olive oil, rosemary, and oregano into a bowl and whisk. Marinate lamb in this for 4-6 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Slice the tops off of the heads of garlic and halve the shallots. Place them in a baking dish, cut side up and drizzle with olive oil.
- Cover with foil and roast for 90 minutes, until garlic and shallots are soft.
- Raise oven temperature to 500 degrees.
- Squeeze garlic and shallots out of the dried skins into a bowl and mash together.
- Lay lamb out on the counter and season with salt and fresh cracked pepper.
- Spread garlic and shallot mixture over surface of butterflied lamb.
- Sprinkle with chopped rosemary.
- Roll lamb into a roast and tie with butcher’s twine.
- Season outside of lamb with salt and pepper.
- Place in roasting pan and put in oven for 10 minutes to sear lamb.
- Reduce heat to 325 degrees and cook until lamb reaches an internal temperature of 130 degrees, about an hour (or longer for larger cuts. Check temperature regularly).
- Allow to rest 20 minutes before carving and serving.
Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb
- One stick of grass-fed butter, softened
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme
- One rack of lamb, Frenched
- Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
- Combine butter, garlic, almond meal, parsley, and thyme to form a loose paste.
- Score the fat on the rack of lamb crosswise, avoiding cutting all the way through to the meat.
- Season rack of lamb with salt and pepper.
- Press bread crumb mixture onto fleshy side of the rack of lamb, covering the meat entirely but leaving bones exposed.
- Place in a roasting pain, crust side up.
- Roast for about 30 minutes, until a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the lamb reads 135 degrees.
- Allow to rest 20 minutes before cutting and serving.
Serve with an earthy Pinot Noir or French Burgundy (made from Pinot Noir), which is a classic food/wine pairing. Favorites include Martinelli Pinot Noir from California or a Domaine Serene Pinot Noir from Oregon.