Lamb Roast: From Grocer to Table

There are many things I consider when I cook lamb for dinner. Will I be the only one eating? Do I want leftovers? What spices do I want to use? And, will I cook it slowly or quickly?

My standard (and favourite) mix of herbs and spices will work for any cut of lamb as seasoning. Use it liberally, rubbing it onto the meat itself.

Lamb Seasoning
2 tbsp. oregano
3 tbsp. parsley
5 tbsp. mustard powder
2 tbsp. onion powder
2 tbsp. garlic powder
10 tbsp. coarse sea salt
1 tbsp. powdered sea kelp (optional)
<span “font-size:14.0pt;=”” color:#020202″=””>1-2 cups of Dijon mustard to coat the lamb (optional)

Choosing the Right Cut
When choosing the lamb, I look for a cut that’s large yet still within my budget and fits my plans for the meal. If I want leftovers, I pick a large shoulder or leg of lamb. These larger cuts of meat provide the convenience of relatively hands-free cooking as they can be cooked over several hours.

Shoulder Cutslamb roast
Shoulder cuts are usually quite large and contain lots of meat and fat. Slow cooking shoulder cuts helps to keep it tender. I liberally rub it with Lamb Seasoning, adding some chopped mint. Then I put it in a roasting pan, add some liquid (water or stock), cover it, and cook it at 300ºF for four to six hours. It comes out of the oven falling off the bone

You can also add onions, chopped or sliced, carrots, and celery. Parsnips and turnips work well also. Cut any of these vegetables into big chunks and add when there are 3 hours remaining. They can be eaten with the roast or alone as leftovers the next day.

Leg of Lamb
A leg of lamb, on the other hand, is usually more expensive, has less fat and has lots of meat. I use the spices and herbs in the lamb seasoning only, and skip the Dijon mustard. You can either sear the leg on the stovetop, or cook it in the oven at 400ºF. Cook until it’s a golden brown all over. This will take approximately twenty minutes to seal in the juices, and then continue to cook for two hours at 250ºF in the oven.

I also like to add bulbs of garlic with ½ inch cut off from the top stem side. I cut enough to expose most of the bulbs of garlic. This will allow the garlic to roast in the pan (hence roasted garlic) and by cutting the tops – topping the garlic – you can easily squeeze out the garlic when it’s cold. Add the garlic buds in the last hour of cooking.

Lamb Shanks
Lamb shanks are a good one-meal cut of lamb. If I’m cooking just for myself or don’t want leftovers, I’ll choose a lamb shank or two. They are smaller cuts of meat with a lot of bone and they cook quite quickly. Once I’ve coated them with the lamb seasoning (above), I quickly fry them on the stovetop to seal in the juices. Then, I add ½ cup of stock, cover them, turn down the temperature to low, and simmer for 15 minutes (I like them medium rare).

Other Seasoning Possibilities
Sea kelp powder is a nutritious addition to any roast, as it has a high mineral content. Ginger also works well to add flavour to lamb. Rosemary, parsley, thyme, oregano and sage can be added to the pan to make it really tasty. You can also tie stalks of fresh herbs in a bundle and put them in the bottom of the pan.

Gravy!
Strain the pan drippings when the roast is done and cooling. Remove any large chunks of fat or veggies so you can make a smooth gravy. Put it in a small saucepan and reduce the stock at a gentle boil uncovered. The more you cook it at this point the thicker it will get. For example, I cook two litres of stock down to 1/8 cup and it is nice and thick. This process intensifies the flavour and produces a great gravy. I add a dollop of butter just before I serve the gravy to add shine and richness. Another approach is to cool the drippings in the fridge before you use them so you can easily skim off the fat.

~ by Matthew Craig