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Easter is over. The candy gone, not to return for another year. Next Easter perhaps you’ll face that same “lamb or ham” question. But you know, it’s still springtime and the lamb is still here for enjoyment. For our Easter dinner, and perhaps for your next spring feast, we wanted lamb. But we did not want the standard “garlic and mint sauce” lamb.

“Find something different,” was Suzen’s request.

I googled and this recipe came up in first place. My search was over in five seconds and I’m sure I could not have found a better lamb roast idea. It’s an Ina Garten recipe, so no more need be said. It’s a lovely recipe, easily followed and perfectly delicious. Perfectly.

We’ve never cooked lamb this way before but we will in the future. This Provencal-style recipe begins with adorning the lamb in herbs, vinegar and honey. In the roasting pan, the lamb is surround with tomatoes and onions — no potatoes because this is Provencal and not Irish, but nobody is watching you.

We used cherry tomatoes and after 90 minutes in the oven, with the lamb juices to braise them, these tomatoes were a meal unto themselves. And, of course, there is the lamb: herby, spicy, sweet. It is a festive dish, one that supplies leftovers you’ll enjoy either reheated or served in sandwiches.

For some folks, lamb is an acquired taste. Try this lovely recipe and you will have made the acquisition.


Easy Provencal Lamb

Yield: serves 8+

Ingredients:

  • 1 (6- to 7-pound) bone-in leg of lamb, trimmed and tied
  • ½ cup Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves), divided
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds ripe red tomatoes, cored and 1-inch diced
  • ½ cup good olive oil
  • ½ cup good honey, liquid not solid, divided
  • 1 large Spanish onion, sliced
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Place the leg of lamb in a large roasting pan fat side up and pat it dry with paper towels. Combine the mustard, 1 tablespoon of garlic, the rosemary, balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper in a mini food processor and pulse until the garlic and rosemary are minced. Spread the mixture on the lamb.

Place the tomatoes, olive oil, 1/4 cup of the honey, the onion, the remaining 1 tablespoons garlic, 2 tablespoons salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper in a bowl and toss well. Pour the tomato mixture around the lamb and tuck in the thyme and rosemary sprigs. Drizzle the lamb with the remaining 1/4 cup of honey.

Roast for 20 minutes. Turn the heat down to 350 degrees and roast for another 1 to 1 1/4 hours, until a meat thermometer registers 130 to 135 degrees for medium-rare. Place the lamb on a cutting board, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Discard the herb stems and return the tomatoes to the oven to keep warm. Slice the lamb, arrange on a platter, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve with the tomatoes and pan juices spooned on top.

Source: Ina Garten at Epicurious.com and her book How Easy Is That [Clarkson Potter, 2010]

Photo Information [top picture]: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/5 for 1/50th second at ISO‑2500

Photo Information [bottom picture]: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/4.5 for 1/30th second at ISO‑1250