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Easter dinner, complete. And good.

April 16, 2006

I was worried about this afternoon’s Easter feast. I planned a lamb roast, but the last time I made a lamb roast, it turned out badly. It was a bone-in grilled roast, and it cooked unevenly. Parts were raw, parts were dry and overcooked, and the whole thing had that nasty lamb-gone-bad taste, that musty flavor that makes so many people hate lamb.

Today was different. Oh so different. First, I bought the lamb at Whole Foods. (I’m sure the last time I bought it at a good store, too. But where you buy your meat makes a difference.) Second, I used a Cooks’ Illustrated recipe, so I knew it would be well-written and researched. Lastly, I took my time while preparing it. And it turned out beautifully. It was tender, flavorful, and best of all, NOT musty at all. I mean, it tasted like lamb, but it didn’t taste musty. Mr. Angst was most concerned about that, in fact, when I suggested lamb. You know what? He loved it. So, hurrah! A success.

The sides were less spectacular. Well, the potatoes were great, but it’s hard to mess up potatoes, right? The spinach was only OK. I fried some pancetta, sautéed some garlic, and wilted the spinach in the same pan. Topped it with a little balsamic. But it turned out too salty.

Oh, and we also got a fantastic wine at the “house of fine wine and spirits” around the corner. It’s a mix of an Austrian grape and pinot noir, and it actually effervesces. It’s really fantastic. Matches the lamb perfectly. I am totally going back to the house of fine wine and spirits because the owner knows his stuff.

OK. You didn’t read all the way through this to go away without a recipe. Here it is, with all credit due to Cooks’ Illustrated. Note how many it serves? Yeah, we’ve got TONS of leftovers.

Serves 4 to 6
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium cloves garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce)
1 cup bread crumbs/ (fresh), coarse
1 boneless half leg of lamb (3 1/2 to 4 pounds), untied, trimmed of surface fat, and pounded to even 3/4-inch thickness, at room temperature
Table salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Meanwhile, in workbowl of food processor fitted with steel blade, process 1 teaspoon of olive oil with garlic, rosemary, thyme, and parsley until minced, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as necessary, about 1 minute. Remove 1 1/2 tablespoons herb mixture to small bowl and reserve. Scrape remaining mixture into medium bowl; stir in cheese, bread crumbs, and 1 tablespoon olive oil, and set aside.

2. Lay lamb with rough interior side (which was against bone) facing up on work surface; rub with two teaspoons olive oil, and season generously with salt and pepper. Spread reserved 1 1/2 tablespoons herb mixture evenly over meat, leaving 1-inch border around edge. Following illustrations 2 and 3, roll roast and tie. Season tied roast generously with salt and pepper, then rub with remaining 1 tablespoon oil.

3. Place roasting rack on rimmed baking sheet. Heat 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, about 3 minutes. Sear lamb until well browned on all sides, about 2 minutes per side; then, using tongs, stand roast on each end to sear, about 30 seconds per end. Transfer to rack and roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part registers 120 degrees, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer lamb to cutting board; remove and discard string. Brush lamb exterior with mustard, then, following illustration 6, carefully press herb and bread crumb mixture onto top and sides of roast with hands, pressing firmly to form a solid, even coating that adheres to the meat. Return coated roast to rack; roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of roast registers 130 to 135 degrees (medium-rare), 15 to 25 minutes longer. Transfer meat to cutting board, tent with foil, and let
rest 10 to 15 minutes. Cut into 1/2-inch slices and serve.

There are illustrations with the recipe, but I’ve gotta leave something for Cooks’ Illustrated. I highly recommend subscribing if you like to cook. Then, if you feel like springing for it, spend the additional $20 a year for access to all of their online recipes and archives. So worth it.

Categories: food
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