04 Apr2010

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In Italy, Greece and other European countries, lamb is often the meat of choice for the Easter meal. It is finest at this time of year as the sheep have just given birth, hence you are munching on Spring lamb, aka incredibly tender baby lamb. Just put those cute little fuzzy furry images out of your mind, or skip this post if it’s too much to handle… When sister arrived from New York a few weeks ago, she pulled what looked like a large leg of lamb out of her luggage. We decided it wouldn’t fit into the menu over the next few days, so while I am loath to freeze good meat, we threw it into the freezer and frankly, nearly forgot it was there.

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Turns out it wasn’t a leg of lamb, but 1/4 of a whole baby lamb! She had visited the greek butcher at the International Meat Market in Astoria, Queens (old post on the store, here), and the Spring lamb had just arrived so she decided to bring some home to Manila. Raised on a farm in the Midwest, these baby lamb are sought after by the Greek-American community that apparently line up for hours right before Easter to make sure they have their lamb… The piece included a small upper part of a leg, and the chops/ribs of the tiny lamb. It was the first time I have seen a piece like this, and I was a bit concerned I wouldn’t know how to cook it properly.

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Instead of doing anything fancy, I simply cut slits into the lamb and inserted whole cloves of garlic. Chopped up some fresh rosemary and rubbed that all over the piece of lamb, then added generous amounts of salt and pepper. Into a low 320F oven it went, and though I cooked it for 1.5 hours for a 4 pound piece (thinking that would be medium rare), the manner in which the piece was cut meant I had overcooked it slightly and probably 1.25 hours or so would have sufficed. I increased the temperature for the last 10 minutes or so to crisp up the skin. From the drippings, I simply added a little corn starch, some white wine, chicken broth and made a simple gravy. The results? UTTERLY SUPERB. The finest lamb I have EVER eaten. I kid you not. The meat, while slightly overdone, was incredibly tender, with a wonderful texture and aroma that was unmistakably lamb, but with a subtlety and sophistication that I have never run across before. Thinking I must have just been hungry or even famished when sitting down to eat, I looked at the other 5 diners and every single one of them thought this was an exceptional dish.

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We served some roasted baby potatoes, onions, red peppers, artichoke hearts and mushrooms with the lamb, as well as a spinach and beet salad with salted pecans for a really easy, incredibly delicious meal. If you are into lamb, you may want to check these links to a roast leg of lamb dinner we did a while back, or these grilled lamb chops a la Ming Tsai, or a lamb gyro pita we enjoyed in Athens, or these crispy deboned lamb ribs at Hutong in Hong Kong that were insanely good, or do you remember this stunning roast baby abbacchio that Margarita Fores prepared for a surprise birthday party when I turned 45?, that turned into a delicious roasted baby lamb adobo the following day, or try a lamb and vegetable tagine, or get a local lamb gyro at Mano’s Greek Taverna in Tagaytay, or finally, this easy recipe for lamb chops with balsamic vinegar and garlic that Mrs. MM likes to serve with garlic mashed potatoes.

Happy Easter to all of you!

P.S. For other Easter related posts, try:

Ham at the center of an Easter Meal
A bowl of Easter chocolates
An Ostrich Egg – In case hen’s eggs are too small for your artistic toddler to paint… :)
How about a Mezze Style Lunch as a healthy alternative this holiday season, you could always add some roast lamb to complete the meal…
Decorated Easter Eggs a la Marketman
Easter cookies and sweets
Another Easter Post
Some Easter Flowers
More Easter Eggs…
…turned into Egg Salad Sandwiches
And finally, a primer on eggs, as a pre-cursor to coloring or eating them.

 

COMMENTS:

  1. zena says:

    Love lamb, especially prepared classically as above with mint jelly. =) Looks like a great meal.

    Apr 4, 2010 | 9:21 am

     
  2. chinky says:

    HAPPY EASTER TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY AND CREW!

    Apr 4, 2010 | 9:39 am

     
  3. natie says:

    Warm Easter greetings to you and your family, MM—i could smell the roast and it’s making me hungry..

    Apr 4, 2010 | 10:48 am

     
  4. Susie says:

    Happy Easter, MM! Having our Easter lamb tomorrow when everyone is back home from the beach.
    Best lamb I’ve ever had was salt marsh lamb from the Lake District in England…the sheep feed on the salt marsh grass and the meat is just incredibly flavoursome. It is only available at certain times of the year and is worth searching for. Every time spouse goes back to the UK he looks for some to bring back to Cebu…fantastic stuff!

    Apr 4, 2010 | 10:49 am

     
  5. jannah says:

    Just had roasted lamb chops for dinner last Friday with hummus, garlic paste, green salad, green and black olives and flat bread. Yummy!!!

    Apr 4, 2010 | 12:46 pm

     
  6. Lee says:

    Happy Easter Marketman. I had smoked salmon, trout and roast beef for lunch. This strange place where I’m at usually serve some decent stuff during holidays. Tomorrow, it will be back to mystery meat and breaded everything.

    Apr 4, 2010 | 3:56 pm

     
  7. Marketman says:

    Lee, if you have access to a kitchenette, take several thick slices of roast beef from the dining hall, then saute onions, add soy sauce and lemon juice and have roast beef tagalog with some rice. Yum. :)

    Apr 4, 2010 | 4:01 pm

     
  8. joyce says:

    happy easter to everyone! the lamb dish you cooked looks fantastic. the best lamb here has got to be from the many xinjiang restaurants where for about P1,000 a person they will roast a whole lamb for your party.

    Apr 4, 2010 | 4:04 pm

     
  9. Eden says:

    At the risk of sounding like a real novice when it comes to bringing fresh meat in one’s luggage, how do you pack the stuff without meat juices seeping into your packed clothes and out of your luggage. And I thought I was being clever bringing bottles of Ca. wine (to Cebu) in my suitcases. :)

    BTW, the lamb dish sounds wonderful!

    Apr 4, 2010 | 6:03 pm

     
  10. cindy says:

    I’m just so curious how your sister was able to bring in 1/4 of a baby lamb. No trouble in customs? No smell, spoilage? I’ve been so tempted to bring home a good roast beef from San Francisco, but with a 5 hour stopover in Taiwan (Evair), I’m afraid of stinking up my luggage, or worse, the plane! I would really appreciate tips on how to bring in meat. Thanks MM.
    A Blessed Easter to your family and the crew!

    Apr 4, 2010 | 6:11 pm

     
  11. Marketman says:

    Eden, actually, often, Sister uses a whole cooler in a box. That way, all things perishable are in the cooler. Since the hold of a plane is a cold 40-45F or so, it is cool enough down there to keep frozen items fine for many many hours. An alternative is to put them in zip up freezer bags (the large ones, that look like carrying bags) and place those in a cheap disposable piece of luggage, so you won’t feel bad if you have any accidents. I would not mix meat with clothing. In the same piece of luggage with the lamb was a whole Tennessee ham, a whole roast beef, steaks, guanciale (pig’s cheek bacon, several kilos of European style butter, dried fruit, etc.

    Apr 4, 2010 | 6:11 pm

     
  12. Marketman says:

    Cindy, my sister usually does declare what she brings, and local customs has never stopped her. Particularly if meats are vacuum packed or frozen, it doesn’t seem to be a problem, though officially, if you look at local published quarantine/importation laws, they seem to say you cannot bring in fresh fruit or meat. I wouldn’t bring in live animals, live plants, etc. that can logically have stuff (bugs, etc.) that might affect local produce…

    Apr 4, 2010 | 6:15 pm

     
  13. tamale8888 says:

    Wow, yummy! After cooking seafood for the past few days, I got so lazy, my family and I just hit Max’s and ordered fried chicken, crispy pata and pinakbet for lunch. HAPPY EASTER, EVERYONE. JESUS HAS SAVED US! *:)

    Apr 4, 2010 | 8:19 pm

     
  14. myra_p says:

    A timely post… My hands still smell like the boneless leg of lamb I roasted over charcoals here at the beach… Two days ago, I smeared it with squashed garlic, fresh rosemary and sea salt, then I wrapped it tightly with plastic wrap. This evening, I threw it over hot coals to sear, then dispersed the coals and slowly grilled for a half hour more. Result: Char on the outside, and a juicy medium on the inside… Happy Easter MM, from my family to yours :)

    Apr 4, 2010 | 10:45 pm

     
  15. Footloose says:

    Spring brings to mind Easter which brings to mind lamb and rosemary followed by white beans sprinkled with gremolata. At home, the closest we got to lamb as food was a sponge cake baked in a lamb mould and iced and decorated rather realistically with Italian meringue usually presented as a centre piece during Corpus Cristi. As a young boy, I did not pay as much attention to the lamb as on its base that was shaped like a book but made out of sansrival. Oh and rosemary, you can get them anytime at the sari-sari store if you asked for romero (as in Gloria). It was used as remedy, for what ailment I know not.

    Apr 5, 2010 | 1:02 am

     
  16. marilen says:

    A blessed Easter to everyone.

    MM I always appreciate your way with words. I kid you not!!!

    Apr 5, 2010 | 1:28 am

     
  17. teny says:

    Happy easter to your entire family MM. God bLess.

    Apr 5, 2010 | 11:23 am

     
  18. Betchay says:

    Happy Easter MM and Family!

    Apr 5, 2010 | 12:45 pm

     
  19. Lizzy says:

    Happy Easter, MM and MM readers!

    The lamb looks fabulous. I made a roasted leg of lamb on the charcoal rotisserie this Easter, alongside a rolled liempo “porchetta” (using MM’s recipe) and both were a hit with the crowd.

    I thought I’d post a link to an article in the LA Times about macarons, knowing MM’s passion for them. http://www.latimes.com/features/food/la-fo-macaron-20100401,0,6611000.story
    I especially found interesting the tip about aging the egg whites. Interesting.

    What do you know? A little bit of Paris could become an American Easter tradition? Love it! :)

    Apr 5, 2010 | 10:12 pm

     
  20. Fresh field says:

    Hi market man … Hopefully by this weekend I shall have some spring lamb from NZ at the store. Please do drop by if you have time …

    Mar 29, 2011 | 6:14 pm

     
 

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