February is Lamb Lover’s Month. I just learned that from the great people at American Lamb Board. I guess I was a few weeks off when I faced my own fears and cooked a lamb roast for my family.
I purposely went on the American Lamb Board’s field trip ahead of the International Food Blogger’s Conference last year because I love lamb, but have been afraid to cook it myself. I didn’t grow up eating lamb, so I didn’t have many experiences watching it be prepared. My outlaws grill most of their lamb, but I’m terrified of the grill so lamb’s stayed out of my wheelhouse for a long time.
Recently, a representative of Superior Farms offered to send me some product to play with. Of course I said ok! When the semiboneless leg of lamb showed up at my doorstep, I knew I’d have to cook for a crowd. That was a lot of meat for a gal who lives at alone. Luckily, my mother-outlaw was game to let me use her kitchen in exchange for the main course for a Sunday dinner with the family.
I started with Ina Garten’s Herb Roasted Lamb recipe then made it my own.
Here’s what you’ll need:
20 large unpeeled garlic cloves, divided
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
American Lamb Seasoning Mixture
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 (6-pound) semi-boneless leg of lamb from Superior Farms
4 to 5 pounds small unpeeled red potatoes (16 to 20 potatoes)
2 pounds green beans
3 tablespoons good olive oil (I prefer California Olive Ranch or Lucero)
Peel 10 of the cloves of garlic and place them in the small bowl of a Magic Bullet or small food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the rosemary, 1 tablespoon lamb seasoning mixture (use any herb mix you like), 1 teaspoon pepper, and butter. Process until the garlic and rosemary are finely minced (I added some olive oil so the mixture processed more thoroughly. Thoroughly coat the top and sides of the lamb with the rosemary mixture. I poked some of the larger garlic pieces under the fat layer and into the meat in a couple of places. Allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour. It will smell wonderful!
About half way through the lamb’s resting period, turn the oven up to 450 degrees F. Place the oven rack in the lower third of the oven so the lamb will sit in the middle of the oven.
Toss the potatoes and remaining unpeeled garlic in a bowl with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and herb mixture. Place in the bottom of a large roasting pan. Place the lamb on top of the potatoes and roast for 1 to 1 1/4 hours. While cooking, toss the green beans with a little olive oil and seasoning. Add green beans to the bottom of the pan and cook about 15 minutes more or until the internal temperature of the lamb is 135 degrees (rare) or 145 degrees (medium). Remove from the oven and put the lamb on a platter; cover tightly with aluminum foil. Allow the lamb to rest for about 20 minutes. Use this time to reduce the pan drippings into a simple au jus. Slice the lamb and serve with the potatoes and green beans.
Now a note on olive oil, research conducted by UC Davis in 2010 found that 69 percent of the of imported “extra-virgin” samples on grocery store shelves did not meet the international standards. After attending the IFBC session on olive oil tasting led by sensory scientist Hoby Wedler and Dan Flynn, director of the UC Davis Olive Center, I made California Olive Ranch and Lucero my exclusive olive oil brands.
Thanks to Superior Farms and American Lamb Board, I can officially say I’m over my fear of cooking lamb. My niece and her boyfriend were floored. They raved about the roast- something they were reluctant to try- having not liked lamb before. I think that’s about the highest praise for any cook or commodity board!
This recipe will join Cornish game hen and the oven baked cod in my repertoire of fancy-looking main dishes that are deceptively easy to prepare.