A Tisket, A Tasket, There’s a Leg of Lamb In My Easter Basket!!

Easter is right around the corner and you know what that means? LAMB!!!

Ham was always my favorite meat for Easter until one year my dad would make it for dinner every Sunday when his best friend John would come over.  After awhile John piped up and said “Ever notice we always have ham and green beans for dinner?”

At Easter we would have 2 types of meat served, ham and lamb, since we would usually have a house full of people over for dinner that had no family to visit. Lamb became my favorite dish for Easter Dinner because that was the only time of year we could get it in the store growing up.  Now you cannot pass even a local butcher without seeing lamb chops for sale!

My parents came down last weekend for my sisters closing on her new home so they brought me down some goodies.  I was just expecting the farm fresh eggs my mom gets from her free range hens and some of the soup bases, but instead I got 2 grocery bags of meat and not a lot of room in my tiny freezer.  I managed to stuff a leg of lamb, 8 lamb chops, 2 lamb shanks, 2 t-bone steaks, and a beef roast into my freezer and thanked the parents for the home grown goodies!  Yes, my parents raise their own beef and lamb.  I so love my parents!

With Easter around the corner, I thought that maybe I would cook the leg of lamb for dinner at some point during the week.  This is a dish you can have anytime of the year!

My Easter menu consisted of the following dishes (and lots of leftover goodies):

Fresh spring mixed salad with homemade goat cheese dressing
Bruschetta
Shrimp cocktail
Fresh roasted garlic bread
Roasted garlic and chive mashed potatoes
Creamed spinach
Herb stuffed boneless leg of lamb
Roasted fresh veggies
Store bought Lemon Lamb Cake!

First let’s start with the bruschetta:
Two roma tomatoes, or whatever you can find on sale that are ripe
1/4 of a red onion (maybe less depending on how big the onion is)
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper
Fresh squeezed lemon juice (1/2 of a whole lemon)
Fresh basil
Fresh mozzarella cheese
French bread

Dice your tomatoes and onion to your desired size, I happen to have diced mine small. Take your tomatoes and onions and place them in a bowl, add a pinch of salt and about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, juice from 1/2 of a lemon, and mix.  While you let the mix marry, slice crosswise and on the diagonal the French bread to about 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices.  Brush the slices with some olive oil and toast in a toaster oven for about 7 to 10 minutes or until they are golden brown.  take your fresh mozzarella and slice as you did the bread but make them about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.  Depending on how many you want to serve, take anywhere from 6 to 12 basil leaves, stack them up, roll them and then slice on the diagonal.

Now to putting these bad boys together!  Make this the last dish you plate and serve because the bread will turn soggy if let it sit too long.  Place the bread on a serving platter and stack on the cheese, some of the tomato and onion mixture on the cheese, sprinkle the basil over liberally and serve.

Reserve some of the tomato and onion mixture for the salad.

For the salad you will need the following:
1 bag of fresh mixed baby springs
Fresh goat cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Garlic, peeled and pressed
Sea salt
Balsamic vinegar
Tomato and onion mixture
Some of the toasted bread left over from the bruschetta cut into crouton size or smaller

For the dressing we shall use some of the 2 ounces of the goat cheese, 2 teaspoons of the balsamic vinegar, one pressed garlic clove, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt.  Whisk ingredients together and place in a squeeze bottle.

Plate the baby spring mix, sprinkle some of the tomato and onion mixture on the greens, crumble some fresh goat cheese over the mix, sprinkle on some fresh croutons, drizzle on some of the dressing and serve.

For the Shrimp cocktail it is really easy:
8 to 10 pieces of large to jumbo shrimp (less of the shrimp if they are bigger in size)
Your favorite cocktail sauce
One jar of horseradish
Old Bay Seasoning

You want to make this a couple of hours or the day before so it has enough time to chill.  Bring a pot of water to boil, add in 1 to 2 tablespoons of the old bay seasoning depending on how spicy you want the shrimp.  Peel the shells off the shrimp, rinse, drain and then add to the boiling seasoned water.  Bring back to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes or until you start to notice the flesh has turned white and the gray strips have turned pink/orange.  Drain the shrimp, place into a tightly sealed container and place in the fridge to chill.  Once the shrimp have been cooled, take your favorite cocktail sauce and place in a serving bowl, add just a touch of the horseradish in the center, hang between 4 and 6 shrimp off the edge of the dish and serve.

For the roasted garlic you will need:
1 large head of garlic
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of fresh cracked pepper
Pinch of dried thyme
Extra virgin olive oil

Cut the top off of the head of garlic and drizzle a little olive oil.  Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, black pepper and thyme, wrap in a piece of foil loosely or place in a clay vessel made for roasting garlic.  Place into a cold oven and turn the heat to 400 and let roast for about 30 to 40 minutes.  After about 30 or 40 minutes, uncover and let cook for another 20 to 30 minutes or until you see the garlic has started to turn a caramel color on the top and edges.  Remove the bulb from the oven and let cool for about 15 minutes.  Once cooled you can literally squeeze the cloves out into a bowl and smash them into a fine paste.  Set aside 1/2 of the mixture for garlic bread and the other half for the mashed potatoes.

For the roasted garlic bread you will need
1/4 to 1/2 loaf of French bread
2 tablespoons of butter
Half of the head of garlic you roasted

Mash the roasted garlic into a small pot, add the butter and place on a medium heat.  Once the butter starts to bubble, remove from the heat.  Remove the garlic from the pot, spread on the bread and then drizzle the butter over it.  Place the bread into a 375 degree oven and bake until the edges are nice and golden and the garlic has started to turn a bit golden brown.  Slice and serve.

For the Roasted Garlic and Chive Mashed potatoes you will need:
4-6 medium to large size Yukon gold potatoes cleaned and diced (depends on how many guests)
1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt
1/8 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
about 7 to 9 chives minced
3 tablespoons of butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup of reserved water from boiling potatoes or chicken stock.  Vegetarians can use vegetable stock.

Place your potatoes in a pot with enough water to cover, about 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil.  Once the potatoes are fork tender remove from the heat and drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of water unless you are using chicken or vegetable stock.  Place the pot back on the heat for about 30 seconds to cook off the moisture from the potatoes.  Turn off the heat and add the 3 tablespoons of butter, 1/4 cup of cream, pinch of salt and the 1/8 of a teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper.  Mash together and add the water or stock a little at a time till the potatoes are to your desired thickness.  Taste, season if needed and serve.

For the creamed spinach you will need:
1 package of frozen chopped spinach, thaw and squeeze out as much water as possible.
2 tablespoons of butter
1/4 cup of heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest
1/2 Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons of fresh or store bought breadcrumbs
Pinch of sea salt
pinch of fresh ground black pepper

In a sauté pan melt the butter and add the spinach.  Once the spinach starts to heat ass the salt and pepper, stir in the cream, the lemon zest and 1/2 of the cheese.  Once the cheese has melted into the mixture transfer to a small baking dish, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and the breadcrumbs on top.  Place into the oven at 375 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the breadcrumbs and cheese start to turn golden brown.  Let set for 3 minutes then serve.

For the leg of lamb we shall start with the veggies needed:
1lb bag of carrots, peeled and sliced into wedged about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in length
2 medium onions diced
2 small to medium zucchinis halved and sliced into 1/2 inch wedges
Extra virgin olive oil
2 pinches of sea salt
2 pinches of fresh ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon of oregano crushed
1/4 teaspoon of rosemary crushed

Mix all of the ingredients together and place in the bottom of your roasting pan and place your roasting rack on top of the veggies so when the lamb cooks over then they absorb all that yummy flavor that drips from the lamb.

Herb stuffed leg of lamb:
One boneless leg of lamb
Rosemary
Fresh garlic pressed
Thyme
Mint
Oregano
Parsley flakes
Extra virgin olive oil
Kitchen twine

Butterfly the leg of lamb so that it is even in thickness and place into a zip lock bag.  Place about 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil into the bag along with 1 teaspoon of oregano and rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon of thyme, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons of mint, and 3 cloves of garlic pressed.  Close the bag and then blend well by moving the lamb around in the bag with your hands.  Place the lamb in the fridge for 8 to 24 hours.  I always make mine a day in advance so the herbs marry well into the meat.

When you are ready to cook the meat, remove the baggie from the fridge and let it come to room temperature.  While it is coming to room temp, blend in a bowl some about 1/2 teaspoons of oregano and rosemary, 1/4 teaspoon of the mint and thyme, 1 teaspoon of the parsley flakes, 3 cloves of pressed garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper and 2 table spoons of the olive oil.  Once it is at room temp, remove the lamb from the baggie and place on your cutting board on the back side, smear on the herb mixture you created and begin rolling the meat.  You want to roll the smallest side inwards so you have a nice even roll when it is completed.  Once you have your roast rolled up, grab the kitchen twine.  This is a good time to get the boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife involved if you need more hands.  Tie the roast up and let it rest for about 2 to 5 minutes to let herb stuffing marry in the center of the meat.  Place the roast over the vegetables you prepared, cover with foil and place into an oven preheated to about 350 to 375 degrees.  After about an hour you want to check the center temp.  We are looking for about 130 to 140 degrees for medium rare.  Do not worry about the temp being too low, when you take the roast out to rest for 15 minutes it should raise the internal temp to about 140 to 150 degrees.  If the temp is not quite there check it again in about 15 minutes.  For a roast that is about 5 lbs should take approximately 1 1/2-2 hours depending on your oven.  Once you have achieved the desired temp, remove the roast from the oven and let rest away from the heat for about 15 minutes.  During this time you can mash your potatoes, prep your salad bowls and get your garlic bread in the oven.  once the lamb roast has rested, remove the kitchen twine and slice to the desired thickness and serve.

Sure, I could have made a dessert with this menu, but after all this cooking does one really want to still be in the kitchen slaving over the stove again making a cake? NO! Go buy one of those cute looking Lamb cakes, slice yourself a piece, grab a glass of your favorite wine, you favorite comfy chair and relax!

I know this was not written in any fashion for staging or timing.  You will want roast your garlic first, put the roast in the oven, prep your salad and your bruschetta, cut your potatoes and chives, and end with toasting your garlic bread in the oven.  I did a lot of prep work while I was waiting on my lamb to come to room temp as well as during the cooking time.  I certainly hope you find this meal as tasty as I do.

Enjoy!

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About Brandi W.

A simple girl trying to make cooking simpler.
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