When I think of the holidays, certain classic centerpieces to the family meal come to mind. The holidays have always been a time when you go big or go home — indulging in food and drink best savored during special occasions.
Leg of lamb with mint sauce is definitely a dish I associate with the high holidays. While many Americans are wary of lamb, I’d urge you to get over the intimidation factor and give this flavorful meat a chance. With a little confidence, trust in proper preparation and cooking techniques, and a willingness to try something new, you might find yourself in a love affair with this addition to your meat menu.
This recipe is a twist on the classic. I’ve replaced traditional mint sauce with chermoula, a pesto-like sauce and marinade of North African origin. As an accompaniment to your roast lamb, chermoula amps up the mint with smoked paprika and warm spices, adding depth and complexity of flavors and character.
ROAST GARLIC LEG OF LAMB WITH DATE CHERMOULA
2- to 3-pound boneless leg of lamb
(have the butcher debone, trim and tie
roast to desired size)
3 cloves of garlic, grated
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Take lamb out of refrigerator an hour before cooking. Rub down your leg of lamb with the garlic, 1 tablespoon olive oil, red chili flakes, salt and pepper.
Heat a pan with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sear lamb on all sides. Place in the oven at 450 degrees for 10 minutes; then, reduce the temperature to 350 degrees. Continue to roast for another 20-25 minutes or until the roast reaches an internal temperature of 125 degrees for medium rare or 140 degrees for medium.
Remove from oven, tent with foil and let rest for 10-15 minutes. Carve and serve with chermoula.
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
3 garlic cloves
2 pitted dates
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon grated lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup cilantro leaves
1 cup parsley leaves
1 cup mint leaves
Salt/Pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a blender and pulse to preferred consistency. I like my sauce a little chunky instead of smooth like a paste. Sauce can be prepared up to three days in advance. Serve at room temperature.