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TIP OF THE DAY: Roast Leg Of Lamb

Our family typically had turkey for Thanksgiving, prime rib for Christmas, ham and lamb for Easter, lamb for Mother’s Day and a return to prime rib for Father’s Day.

Back in the day, food was seasonal. Lamb was available in the spring. Fall is the natural mating time for sheep, which results in lambing in early spring. From an evolutionary standpoint, in spring there is plentiful grass for the mother, which maximizes her milk production to feed her offspring.

With modern animal husbandry, grass can be replaced with feed, and sheep can be artificially inseminated. Adios nature, hello year-round lamb.

This luscious lamb dinner from Good Eggs in San Francisco is festive without requiring an overly involved preparation process. The artichokes, stewed with herbs and lemon, are a delectable side. But don’t consider them as your “green vegetable’: Add some spring peas, too.

And don’t wait for a holiday to make it. We enjoy it for weekend dinners.
 
RECIPE: LEG OF LAMB WITH STEWED MINT ARTICHOKES & YOGURT SAUCE

Ingredients

  • 4.5 pound leg of lamb
  • Olive oil, salt and pepper
  • 3 large rosemary sprigs plus more for garnish
  • 3-4 large artichokes or 1 pound baby artichokes (we prefer the babies—see photo below)
  • 1 bunch mint
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 cups Whole Greek yogurt
  • Marash Turkish chile flakes*
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • A few splashes of white wine vinegar
  • A loaf good bread
  •  
    Plus

  • Spring peas, carrots or other vegetable
  •    

    Leg Of Lamb Dinner

    Roast Leg Of Lamb

    Top: A perfect roast lamb dinner from Good Eggs | SF. Bottom: A roast leg of lamb from Allen Bros.

     
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    *Marash chile flakes are red pepper flakes from Turkey. They have a complex flavor—fruit and smoke—with moderate heat. Marash is both smokier and a bit hotter than Aleppo pepper, but you can use them interchangeably. The flakes can be blended with lemon juice and salt for a meat rub, or added to olive oil to make a vinaigrette, pasta or rice sauce. Blend the flakes with olive oil for a bread dipper, add to soups and stews, chili or any meat dish.

     

    Marash Chile Flakes

    Grilled Baby Artichokes

    Top: Marash chili flakes; photo courtesy Silver Lake Station, which sells the chile flakes. Bottom: Make extra artichokes to enjoy the next day. These are served at X Bar at the Hyatt Regency | Los Angeles.

     

    Preparation

    1. PAT the meat dry an hour ahead of time, and season it generously with salt and pepper. You can do this the day before and remove it from the fridge about an hour before cooking. Leave any twine or netting around the meat in place.

    2. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. Place a cast-iron† pan large enough to hold the lamb on the stove top, over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add a light coat of olive oil, place the leg in the pan and brown it on all four sides until the skin is deeply golden and crisped (about 4 minutes per side). Tuck three large sprigs of rosemary around the lamb, and roast it for half an hour until the internal temperature reaches at least 145° (for medium-rare). While lamb is cooking…

    3. PREPARE the artichokes: Wash under cold running water, remove the toughest outer leaves and, if necessary peel the stems. Then slice across the base of the leaves, remove the choke, and quarter the large artichoke hearts/stems or halve the baby artichokes.

    4. PLACE the artichoke hearts in a pot and cover with water. Add a bit of olive oil, two tablespoons of salt, two sprigs of thyme, three bay leaves, three sprigs of mint and a splash of white wine vinegar. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 15 minutes, until the artichoke quarters are fork-tender. While the artichokes cook…

    5. MAKE the yogurt sauce. Whisk the yogurt with a handful of chopped mint, a tablespoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of Marash chili pepper, and the zest and juice of one lemon. Taste for balance; if you prefer a thinner sauce, you can add more olive oil or lemon juice. When the artichokes are done…

    6. REMOVE the artichokes from the liquid with a slotted spoon. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and set them aside to cool. When cool, taste and season them with salt and a bit more olive oil to taste. Finish with some freshly chopped mint. When lamb is done…

     

    7. REMOVE the pan from oven and let the lamb rest at least 15 minutes. Remove any twine or netting around the lamb and slice against the grain. Garnish with whole herbs as desired. Serve with the artichokes, yogurt sauce and sweet spring peas.
     
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    *Cast iron enables better browning or searing, but if you don’t have it, use your heaviest roasting pan.

      

      




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