dimanche 23 mars 2008

Roast Leg of Lamb with Fresh Herbs

Happy Easter / Happy Spring Equinox!!!!

It is time to celebrate the arrival of spring – day is longer than night, plants are coming back to life and we are returning to a world of colour after a long and dreary winter. This year the spring equinox fell on March 20th. We don’t make a big deal of the equinox but it is quite a spectacular sight to see at the astronomical temples of the ancient Mayan ruins if pictures and videos are anything to go by. Visit the tachomas website to see an impressive artistic enactment of the one at Dzibichaltun, Mexico. Maybe one day I will make the pilgrimage myself to see the equinox in person.

One phenomenon of an equinox is a temporary disruption of communications satellites which occurs when the sun is directly behind the satellite relative to the Earth for a short period each day close to the date of the equinox. Could it just be mere coincidence that my GPS was unstable on Thursday and Friday?? It recorded my location correctly on the map but the directions of how to get to my destination were completely scrambled.

Not only is it the spring equinox but it is also Easter. It is a time for bells and bunnies to deliver chocolate eggs to children. How this fits into the remembrance of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ is a bit of a mystery. Even the date changes from year to year relative to the equinox since the church calculates Easter Sunday as the first Sunday after the full moon on or after the March equinox (using the fixed date of March 21st for the equinox as opposed to the actual date when it occurs). All a bit Pagan but it seems like a fabulous idea to celebrate the end of winter and the return to the life giving sunshine and warmth of spring with a feast.

Easter dinner is traditionally either roast lamb or baked ham. Try spicing up the side dishes by serving mango salsa or cranberry jalapeno chutney. For vegetables, I suggest horseradish mustard new potatoes and asparagus.

Roast Leg of Lamb with Herbs
Serves 4-6

1.5 kg (3 lbs) leg of lamb
60 mL (4 Tbsp) olive oil
4 cloves garlic, cut in quarters
2 sprigs fresh sage
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
185 mL (6 oz) dry white wine

Trim excess fat from lamb. Rub with olive oil. Make small slits all around the meat using a sharp knife; insert herbs and garlic into slits. Place any remaining herbs and garlic over the lamb; let rest in a cool place for 2 hours before cooking.

Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F).

Place the lamb in a roasting pan. Pour over 30 mL (2 Tbsp) of olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 35 minutes, basting occasionally. Pour wine over the lamb. Roast for a further 15 minutes, or until meat is cooked to desired doneness.

Remove lamb to a heated serving platter. Remove any surface fat from the pan. Strain pan juices into a gravy boat. Slice the meat and serve with the sauce.

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