Roasted shoulder of lamb with herbs is a great dish for an Easter celebration. Marinate the lamb the day before, then cook it at a low heat for several hours. This gives you enough time to set the table, prepare a few side dishes, and pour drinks for your guests. Don’t you just love a long lunch, when people linger at the table, relax on the couch for a while, then return to the table for dessert? If you’re lucky, there’ll be leftovers – make a ragu out of the meat, and save the sauce to use in a soup.
The origin of eating lamb at Easter dates back to the first Jewish Passover, when the faithful roasted a sacrificial lamb and ate it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs in the hope that the angel of God would pass over their homes and ensure those inside suffered no harm. As some Hebrews converted to Christianity, they held onto this tradition.
Many Western European countries still serve lamb at Easter. For example, the French will often roast racks of lamb, and in Greece, a whole lamb is spit-roasted. In Australia, a leg lamb was historically served on Sundays after church, a nod to the nation’s plentiful sheep supplies. https://www.taste.com.au/entertaining/articles/traditional-easter-eats/ky6xbrdb
If you’re looking for inspiration for sides this Easter Sunday, you might like to try these:
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Roasted Shoulder of Lamb with Herbs
- 2.2 kg shoulder of lamb
- 1 handful each of Italian parsley, oregano & rosemary
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 lemon, to yield 1/4 cup juice, plus zest
- 2 oranges, to yield 1/4 juice, plus zest
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 anchovies, rinsed of their oil & patted dry
- flaked sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 brown onion, peeled & cut into 8 pieces
- 2 carrots, cut in half lenghtways, then halved agian into sticks
- 2 celery sticks, cut in the same dimensios as the carrots
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup water
Marinating the lamb
- Make incisions all over both sides of the shoulder of lamb (about 10 each side).
- Rub the salt all over the lamb and place in a non-reactive dish (I use a ceramic baking dish which can go in the oven).
- Mix the marinade ingredients together with a hand-held blender.
- Pour the marinade all over the lamb. Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate overnight.
Cooking the lamb
- Remove the lamb from the fridge 2 hours before cooking.
- Preheat the oven to 200 °C (180 °C fan-forced).
- Make a rack for your lamb by arranging the carrot, celery and onion on the base of the dish.
- Place the lamb on top of the vegetable rack, pour in the wine and water. Cover tightly with foil.
- Cook for 20 minutes at 200 °C, then turn the oven down to 140 °C (120 °C fan-forced), and then cook for 4-5 hours. The longer you cook the lamb, the more easily it will fall away from the bone. Keep the lamb covered with foil until you're ready to serve.
- When cooked, drain off all the juices and puree with a hand-held blender. If you like a thicker sauce as I do, add the vegetables as well. Serve alongside the lamb.