Lamb, an Easter showstopper

If you peruse recipes for lamb shanks, leg of lamb, or rack of lamb, the first thing you’ll notice is a short list of ingredients.

If you peruse recipes for lamb shanks, leg of lamb, or rack of lamb, the first thing you’ll notice is a short list of ingredients.

Lamb is always named as a possible centerpiece for the Easter feast, but it’s an optional billing, behind the traditional ham roast, which is still the choice for the majority of home Easter cooks.

Perhaps it’s due to cost. Depending on the cut, lamb can be more than double the price of ham. But given that it’s a once-a-year holiday purchase, we’re not convinced that money is the only reason people don’t cook it.

Our cultural hesitation about cooking lamb may have more to do with our lack of familiarity than anything else. Most of us don’t have any experience cooking it. That the rules for cooking pork, beef, or poultry don’t necessarily apply only increases the intimidation factor.

If you peruse recipes for lamb shanks, leg of lamb, or rack of lamb, the first thing you’ll notice is a short list of ingredients. Lamb requires very little to make it supple and flavorful. It may be one of the easiest meats to cook. The key is proper technique.

There’s really only one rule: don’t overdo it. Keep the flavors simple. Cook with garlic, rosemary, and lemon. Opt for an olive oil- or butter-based rub over a full marinade. Submerging the meat can make it tough.

Anchovies are considered by some to be the gold standard for knockout flavor (use plain, strong grocery store varieties, not milder white anchovies). Other flavors that pair well with lamb are bay leaf, mint, cardamom, fennel, fresh sage, thyme, oregano, and dry white wine.

You can braise, grill, or roast lamb. The general process is to rub the outside with some combination of herbs, seasonings, and olive oil or butter, and let it sit before searing and finishing in the oven, on the stovetop, or on the grill.


Learn to French a rack of lambhere


Just for fun:

When do people search for Lamb?

This chart shows the yearly ebb and flow of search queries for that term in the United States, from 2004 to now.

Find more interactive charts at Rhythm of Food