15th April 2014

Roast leg of lamb for Easter

By MaitreMarcel

Man can be cruel. Thousands of years ago man sacrificed animals to honour the gods. We evolved a bit since then, became less barbaric and many people embraced monotheism. Nevertheless, it is Spring, the Christians and Jews celebrate the resurrection of Christ, non-believers toast the end of winter, and what do we do? We sacrifice lamb, we eat (chocolate) eggs…we celebrate the return of new live by, well, eating it. However, the guilt disappears with the first bite.

Lamb, suckling lamb, gives a very nice roast.

In the Netherlands, we would have a lamb-shaped mould of butter at the breakfast table. Here in France, l’agneau pascale is readily available on markets. I bought a leg for a roast.
The meat is tender so you do not want to use high heat that would dry it out. But you also need to have a leg that is cooked to the bone (pink for some or a longer cooked kind of white). That calls for lower temperatures. Here I used 140 °C on a leg of 1.5 kilo and it cooked for 90 minutes – I inserted a meat thermometer to check as a rough calculation can lead to non-reversible errors.
First I browned the sides of the lamb on the grill, you can also do that in a pan but the leg is bigger than most of my pans and on the grill I did not need to add butter or oil.
I had preheated the oven. I put the lamb in a big oven dish, added whole cloves of garlic and sprinkled some piment d’Espelette on top. I reserved sprigs of rosemary to add 15 minutes before the end. I turned four times. Then I let the lamb cool down in the oven with the door opened and carved 15 minutes later.
You can use lower temperatures but then the cooking time is even longer. For the meat probe, the inside temperature should not rose above 65 °C.
If you use higher heat, you would have to baste the lamb with butter or oil and add some white wine to prevent the skin from bursting and the outside from becoming too dry. Lamb being fat already,  this lower temperature method does not add calories to the sin of eating innocence.