Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lamb for Easter

Termini's version of  "baked lamb."
Lamb is a meat that I've grown to love.  In fact it is now by far one of my favorites meats, particularly during the Spring and Summer.  I've been surprised, however, by the number of my American friends who won't partake.  When I first moved to the U.S., I threw a dinner party for two other couples and put Lamb on the menu -- without first checking in that they actually eat Lamb.  I served a magnificent crown roast, only to find that two of the ladies can't abide the thought of eating baby baaaaa lambs.  Their loss...and all the more lamb for the rest of the omnivores at the table!

Putting aside the squeamishness of those who won't eat lamb because it's a baby animal, there is apparently another reason why Lamb is not everyone's favorite meat.

Our friend Ben offers sage advice on lamb

According to one of the learned butchers at Martin's in Reading Terminal Market, there is a big difference between the imported lamb that you eat over the winter and the U.S. lamb that you eat in season, starting around now.  Martin's gets their lamb from a farmer in Colorado.  "American lamb doesn't have that strong mutton taste that you get with some of the imported lamb.  That taste can put people off," says Ben, a veteran butcher, at Martin's.  "Our best sellers during the year are usually chops, because lamb can be expensive.  At Easter, though,  people like a leg."

In terms of cooking the leg of lamb, Ben recommends leaving the bone in the leg during cooking.  I've always preferred a de-boned, butterflied lamb (it cooks more quickly and is easier to serve), but Ben is adamant that to get the most out of your lamb you need to keep the bone in, to retain maximum flavor. 

Come Easter, I'll be trying it this a 5-6lb roast, bone in!  Ben reckons this will take about 3.5 hours on 350.

I'll also be combining my roast lamb with a rather lovely olivada condiment that Reading Terminal Market's Executive Chef Wallace McIlhenney will be sharing with Philly Food Lovers later in the week...

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