The perfect recipe for an Irish family Easter Sunday lunch - a hearty springtime meal with room for something sweet to break Lent.
Easter Sunday lunch was always a big occasion in our house when I was growing up, as Lent was finally over and we hadn't eaten a sweet thing for 40 days! The smell of roasting spring lamb with fresh garlic is one of those dishes that can take your mind back to your childhood and make your mouth water at the thought of it.
The history of the Easter Sunday roast lamb goes back to the biblical Passover of the Jewish people. A sacrificial lamb was roasted and eaten with unleavened bread and herbs in the hope that the angel of God would 'pass over' their home and bring the family no harm. Christians often refer to Jesus as 'The Lamb of God' and as religions merged, the lamb became the traditional meat for Easter Sunday.
The perfect roast lamb recipe
1 Leg of lamb - bone out (about 4lb feeds 6 people)
6 Cloves of fresh garlic
1 Bunch of rosemary
2 Tablespoon butter
Freshly ground pepper and salt
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the meat on a roasting tray. Score the lamb with a sharp knife making 1/2" deep incisions and push the garlic cloves and sprigs of rosemary into the cuts in the meat. Rub the butter all over the leg and sprinkle liberally with freshly ground pepper and salt.
Cook the lamb for about 1 hour 20 minutes, turning it over halfway through, and spoon the juices over the meat every half hour. 20 minutes per pound will give you medium cooked meat - adjust the timing to your own taste.
Transfer the meat to another tray and cover with a clean dishcloth, to rest for 10 minutes, before you cut it. This allows all the muscle to relax and makes the meat really juicy and tender.
To make the gravy, place the roasting tray on top of the stove over moderate heat, use a scraper to lift all the tasty residues off the bottom of the tray, and let the juices caramelize a little for about 1 minute. Spoon off any excess fat and 1 pint of cold water. Bring this to the boil and let it reduce down by half. Strain the meat juices into a small pan.
Thicken the gravy with a simple roux. This is made by pouring 2 tbls of olive oil into a cup and adding 2 tbls of flour and stirring this together into a paste. Whisk a little roux into your hot juices. It will thicken immediately. Let it cook out for another minute.
Fresh mint sauce
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons white Sugar
1/2 cup boiling Water
3 tbsp freshly squeezed Lemon juice
Combine the water, sugar & lemon juice in a small pot and bring back to the boil. Cook for 1 minute and add the chopped mint. Turn off the heat, pour into a serving jug and refrigerate until required.
1 lb Each of carrots, parsnips & white turnip, peeled and chopped into 1" chunks
2 red onions, peeled & cut into eight
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put the vegetables in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss them about to coat. Transfer them to a roasting tin and spread out into a single layer. Cook for 20-30 minutes until tender.
Add some chopped scallions, salt, a little white pepper, and some butter to your mashed potatoes to make Champ Potatoes to serve with your Roast Lamb.
For more from Zack see www.IrishFoodGuide.ie.
* Originally published in 2014. Updated in April 2022.