Many years ago during a time of mourning my closest friend provided dinners to our grieving family. The first dinner she delivered was centered around a perfectly cooked leg of lamb and I have forever thought of lamb as providing a meal filled with generosity and kindness. These are attributes that meld with resurrection and joy at this time of year when the world is awash in the the re-emergence of nature’s beauty. In NYC we have been blessed with a very early spring – Central Park is aglow with hills of yellow and orange daffodils. The Bradford pear trees lining our street are gently shedding, giving the cars and sidewalks as well as stroller’s shoulders a coating of soft white petals. The temperatures have been in the unseasonable 70s and we are all waiting for the other shoe to drop with plummeting temperatures and a threat of snow. Every day I hear someone say “I remember an April day when I woke up to a foot of snow”. I’m just breezin’ along with the breeze, enjoying the warmth and celebrating spring – even in the kitchen where a leg of lamb has announced that “spring has sprung”.
I think everyone has a favorite way of roasting a leg of lamb – mine is quite simple. Make any number of slits into the flesh and fill each one with a clove of garlic. Generously salt and pepper and coat with a thin layer of celery seed. Roast in a very hot oven – I do 450ºF – for about an hour and then turn it down to 350ºF and roast until a meat thermometer registers 140ºF for rare. You can throw some potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips, onions or whatever into the roasting pan if you like. I like to serve a little mix-up of grated horseradish (and ‘cause Passover season also, you can find fresh horseradish in every market) and chopped fresh mint along with it.