Spring offers us a spectacular insight into the remarkable rebirths that occur in nature. The Easter and Passover holidays coexist beautifully within this lively season. Observance of these holidays traditionally culminates in a feast.
The centerpiece for these festivities is most often lamb, which is greatly symbolic in both Christianity and Judaism.
Below is my Easter lamb recipe. The original recipe was given to me by a Greek friend many years ago while we were working on a cruise ship. It was intended for cooking a whole lamb outdoors over a charcoal fire and roasting it slowly for many hours. Throughout the years, I took the recipe and streamlined it. I added a twist of flavor with the addition of soy sauce and I use a leg of young lamb. If you want to try the traditional whole lamb roasting, by all means do, just increase the recipe by 4-5 times and enjoy the workout!
Franco's Easter Lamb
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce 2 tablespoons orange juice ( freshly squeezed)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh, or 1 1/2 teaspoons-Oregano (dry) crumbled with fingers to awaken the flavors.
- 7 lbs leg of lamb, bone removed, trimmed of excess fat, leaving a nicely trimmed fatty layer behind.
- 2 cloves garlic, cut into approximately 12 slivers.
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh)
- In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of the olive oil with the soy sauce, orange juice and 2 teaspoons of the fresh oregano or 3/4 teaspoon of the dried.
- Rub the lamb all over with the mixture.
- With a small sharp knife, make 24 slits in the boned side of the lamb and insert a garlic sliver in each.
- Rub the lamb with the remaining olive oil and oregano and pour the lemon juice over all.
- Place the lamb, boned side down, on a broiler rack with a broiler pan underneath to catch the drippings.
- Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 120º F.
- Turn the oven temperature to broil and place the lamb in the broiler about 5 inches from the heat.
- Broil 2 to 3 minutes, or until the meat starts to brown.
- Transfer the lamb to a carving board and let it rest for about 10 minutes.
Sauce is not usually served in Greece with the traditional Easter Lamb; their lamb is succulent and juicy enough from the hours of the spit roasting and basting over an open fire.
Since most of us are used to restaurant dining, we may miss having a sauce. I think a quick "livened-up" sauce from the pan drippings is best and keeps close to tradition.
Quick Pan Sauce:
- 1 large garlic clove, crushed and chopped
- Stir the garlic, lemon juice and oregano into the pan juices scraping up the caramelized bits from the bottom.
- Reduce over medium high heat to thicken the pan juices.
- Pass through a fine mesh strainer
- Cover and keep warm.
Carve the lamb and transfer the slices to a warm serving platter. Stir the chopped parsley into the sauce and pour it over the lamb or pass separately.