It Might As Well Be Spring
As the first daffodils push their way through the cool earth it’s a sure sign that spring has sprung. Just as tender asparagus comes to mind, it’s nothing like flavorful lamb to make us think of spring. Once a food people either loathed or loved, with the advances made in today’s animal husbandry techniques and the “spring” meat available year-round, tender lamb is absolutely delicious. And the perfect dish to serve for your Easter celebration.
When it comes to the flavor factor, lamb never disappoints. Yet it wasn’t always this way. Unlike other cultures, Americans have expressed a lackluster taste for lamb. The Westerner’s lack of enthusiasm for lamb most likely stems from its reputation for too strong a flavor smacking of gaminess. Cattlemen in my native Montana like to joke that sheep must be good to eat. “Forty million coyotes (pronounced ky-yotes) can’t be wrong.” So much for the undiscerning coyote, the consumption of mutton is the culprit here. Really not lamb at all, mutton is meat from a sheep older than two years.
Traditionally, spring lamb is born in February and March, feeds on milk in the spring, eats grass throughout the summer, and is slaughtered in the fall. Now used only as a marketing tool, the term “spring” includes lamb born any time throughout the year and brought to market under one year of age. Our markets sell lamb that has been both grass and grain fed in a feed lot environment creating a milder flavor more favored by the typical Westerner. Shop for light red meat that is moist and bright and finely textured. Bones should be red and moist, and the fat should be creamy white. The perfect rack of lamb, a classic recipe, is sure to put a spring in your step and convert any skeptic to the delicious culinary delight of lamb. Happy Easter! It might as well be spring!
The rack of lamb is perfect in its simplicity. Just a mustard-herb rub is necessary to showcase this cut. Rack of lamb is best eaten rare to medium.
Roast Rack of Lamb with Mustard-Herb Bread Crumb Crust
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¾ cup bread crumbs
1 8-bone rack of lamb, trimmed and frenched
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
1. In a food processor, combine the garlic, rosemary, oil, and bread crumbs and set aside.
2. Liberally season the rack of lamb with salt and pepper. Brush the meat with the mustard and coat with the bread crumb mixture.
3. Arrange the rack bone-side down in a roasting pan. Roast the lamb in a preheated 425-degree oven for 20 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 140 degrees for medium-rare. Let rest 5 to 7 minutes, loosely covered, before carving between the ribs.