Lamb is a common main dish at the Easter dinner table, and it’s important to buy organic if you choose to include lamb dish in your Easter menu. Lamb is a sheep less than a year old, typically between four and twelve months. In this short time, organic lambs are healthier and often happier; without the use of antibiotics or non-organic feed, lamb is a delicious and healthy meat, the perfect dish for special occasions.
Traditional Paschal Lamb
Lamb is the traditional Easter dish for religious reasons. While some associate it with the Christian tradition of calling Jesus the “Lamb of God,” it actually dates back much further, to the Jewish Passover tradition, in which the sacrificial lamb was roasted and eaten with bitter herbs. Today, both of these traditions lead to lamb being a traditional Easter dinner all over the world.
In Greece, Easter lamb is frequently roasted over a spit. Several families (or one large family) buy a lamb together and roast it over a spit in the yard, which means that all over rural areas of Greece, even today, the smell of roast lamb permeates the air at Easter.
In England, the Easter lamb is roasted in the oven and stuffed with herbs and garlic. It is served with gravy and mint sauce.
In France, traditional Gigot d’agneau or leg of lamb is served in most households, alongside seasonal French vegetables. Some families also make a lamb stew for Easter.
Roast Lamb Recipe
To make roast leg of lamb at home, follow this simple recipe. The lamb should marinate overnight, roast for about an hour to an hour and a half, and rest for about 20 minutes, so be sure to plan well in advance.
1 bone-in leg of lamb, about 6 pounds
1 cup white wine
1/2 lemon, juiced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
salt and black pepper
3-4 branches fresh rosemary (for serving)
Combine the marinade ingredients in a large plastic bag. Place the roast in the bag and seal it tightly. Place in the fridge for several hours or preferably overnight, turning at least once.
In the morning, bring the lamb to room temperature on the counter, still in its bag of marinade. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Drain the marinade and reserve, and pat the roast dry. Season liberally with salt and pepper, and cut thin slices into the roast, where you can insert the slices of garlic. Place in a roasting pan with a rack, fattiest side up. Insert a meat thermometer into the center of the roast, being sure not to allow it to touch the bone.
Roast 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 degrees and roast 10 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature reaches 130 degrees. Remove the roast to a jelly roll pan or other pan or tray with edges to catch all of the juices. Tent it with foil and allow it to rest 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the roasting pan directly on the burner over low heat, and slowly add 1 cup of the marinade, whisking constantly to scrape up all of the bits at the bottom of the pan. Cook until the gravy has reduced by about a third, then season to taste with salt.
To serve, slice the leg of lamb against the grain. Serve with gravy and spring vegetables.
For other lamb recipes, try some of our favorites!
- Gordon Ramsay’s Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb
- Braised Organic Lamb Shanks with Wild Mushrooms Served on Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Teriyaki Lamb Chops
- Luck O’ the Irish Lamb Chops with Minty Ranch Dipping Sauce