Easter is a big event in the Christian calendar. It marks the end of Lent where traditonally people have fasted as one of a number of personal sacrifices. During Lent, if you are a devout Christian, you may well have been restricting yourself to one main meal a day, with little in the way of meat, and certainly no meat on a Friday.
Depending on what branch of the Christian religion you follow Lent will end at sundown on the Saturday of Easter, or on the Easter Sunday. It goes without saying, therefore, that there’s going to be a big nosh up for Sunday lunch.
Roast lamb has always been the traditional Easter Sunday lunch. This is thought to date back to pre-Easter times when the Jews observed their first Passover.
Passover commemorates the exodus of the early Israelites from slavery in Egypt. The story of Exodus tells how God inflicted ten plagues on the Egyptians which was the impetus for the Pharoah to release the slaves. The worst of these ten plagues was the slaughter of a family’s firstborn child.
To spare the Israelites from this first-born slaughter business God told them to kill a lamb and smear the blood on the doorpost so their house would be ‘passed over’. They were to eat the lamb, after dry roasting, with bitter herbs and unleavened bread.
Somehow along the way the penchant for lamb by the Jews has been passed to the Christian faith. As well, Christians refer to Jesus as the Lamb of God. It’s also a symbol of re-birth which is what Christian society celebrates on the Easter Sunday. It just so happens that the two festivals, Easter and Passover, are observed at around the same time.
So what’s a good recipe for dry roasted lamb? I found this one, along with a few other lamb leg recipes on the New York Times website.
- 1 leg of lamb (always bring your meat to room temperature before cooking it)
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat your oven to 220º C. Remove as much fat as possible from the lamb, otherwise this will create too much liquid.
Mix all the dried ingredients together, including the salt and pepper, and rub this mixture all over and into the leg of lamb.
Place the lamb in a roasting dish, on a rack (again to assist the dry roasting) and cook for 30 minutes. Check to make sure the lamb isn’t burning. If it is then turn down the heat to 180º C.
Continue to roast for around another hour, or to your liking. Remember to rest the meat before you carve and eat.