On the Lam(b)

It’s no secret that I meal plan and budget every week for our groceries. My PT job is basically my grocery money and since I’ve been working so many extra hours lately, I have more disposable income to spend and splurge on groceries and gifts as occasions arise. I don’t splurge too much, but I did take one of our dinners up a notch… or three this week. I bought a leg of lamb and I’m not apologizing for it.

Today is Orthodox Easter Sunday and since lamb is one of the traditional proteins cooked for Easter, I decided it would be nice to roast a leg of lamb (even for just the two of us) and potatoes for Sunday dinner. I still had half a bag of baby red potatoes left from last week’s Cajun-inspired meal that were beginning to sprout so I knew I wanted to use them up before they got too old and wrinkly. Sure, mashed potatoes are a little more typical for a Sunday roast, but the baby reds bathing in all that delicious jus coming off the lamb and absorbed such good flavor and turned out so well that it was quite a good compromise I think!

The last time I cooked a leg of lamb, I was cooking for family Easter 2017 from a Joy of Cooking recipe and it. was. a. beast. It too was boneless, but it was butterflied and stuffed and more than twice the size of the one I did today requiring two people to flip it midway through roasting! This time, since we’re all isolating (boo!) so there’s not much dinner party action going on. Therefore, a 3-1/2lb roast is more than enough for us.

I don’t repeat the same exact recipe very often so I chose this Herb and Garlic Roast Leg of Lamb from Betty Crocker and it is one of those recipes that’s absolutely worth repeating! I intentionally purchased a much smaller roast than the recipe called for. I had really intended just to make half a recipe, but I was so distracted by livestream church this morning while I was prepping that I ended up making the whole marinade without thinking. And this is probably one of the best mistakes I could have made.

But first let’s dial it back to the beginning. Having had some inspiration from the week prior for roasting the potatoes, I set off on a course of par-roasting them on a sheet pan at 425° for 20min while I prepped the marinade for the lamb. I lined a small baking sheet with parchment paper. I tossed 3/4lb of washed red potatoes with Tunisian olive oil and a light dusting of garlic salt. Then I popped them in the oven to get all nice and soft while I prepared the marinade. Why did I partially roast the potatoes first? The lamb was going to cook low and slow, so I didn’t want to chance an overcooked lamb roast or undercooked potatoes.

For this recipe, I chose to do something a little different than I usually do. Instead of using fresh as usually recommend, I opted for dried this time to help cut costs a little with my grocery budget for the week. Awhile back, I spent some time drying my own herbs so I had plenty of full, aromatic, flavorful dried ones on hand that beat store-bought any day of the week! Since I was using dried herbs this go ’round, I decided to use the more neutral vegetable oil as a base in order to really let the flavors of the herbs shine through. Everything turned out just as good as if I’d used fresh!

As soon as the 20min on the potatoes had elapsed, I pulled them out of the oven, reduced the temperature to 325°, and transferred them to the baking dish the lamb would roast in so they could continue cooking and absorb some of the lovely cooking juices! Without removing the netting, I rubbed the lamb all over with the marinade and placed it fat-side up in the roasting pan surrounded by the potatoes and popped the baking dish in the oven for 1-1/2hrs.

I think I need a new meat thermometer. I may have ever-so-slightly overcooked the lamb since it was the brilliant pink all the way through that it should be. Normally this would be a sad disaster. Ordinarily this would have ruined a beautiful (and slightly costly) cut of meat, but thankfully it wasn’t roasted to the point of no return. There was still some pink in the center! What saved this roast? Two things. I owe it all to placing the fat-side up and the amazing (extra) marinade. The extra garlic and herbs mingled so well with the juices that the roast was yet tender and loaded with so much unctuousness and flavor. There was just the right amount of jus to drizzle over the lamb and potatoes on my plate. All of this conspired to save what could have been a ho-hum dish!

What is one happy mistake you’ve made in the kitchen that saved your meal?

Currently Reading: Women’s Health, June 2019 Issue

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