As you’re finalizing plans for this Sunday’s dinner menu, one thing might come to mind: How are you going to cook the Easter lamb? After all, it’s often the centerpiece of the entire spread. The versatile meat can be braised or even thrown on the grill and it’ll be super delicious. But chances are, you’ll want to roast your Easter lamb.
Roasting a hunk of meat can sound intimidating, but it’s much easier than you think — especially if you sear it right before it goes in the oven for maximum flavor and tenderness! Take a look for more tips on making sure your Easter lamb tastes amazing.
Choose the Right Cut
If you haven’t already gone to the grocery store to secure your lamb for Easter dinner, you better get on that soon! And like a kid in a candy store, you might get overwhelmed by your options with so many cuts to choose from — whether it be lamb shanks, shoulder, or steaks.
But, for an occasion like this, it’s probably best to choose either lamb chops (a favorite among royals and one of Marilyn Monroe’s go-to dinners) or a leg of lamb. These two cuts are great for roasting in the oven. They’re also super tender and flavorful with a little seasoning (more on that below!) before they goes in the oven.
Lamb chops will be quicker to cook in the oven (it can take less than an hour to roast) because they’re smaller in size — even when they’re in a full rack. Plus, they’re a little easier to carve because you can cut the meat in between the bones and get individual lamb chops without any hassle.
A leg of lamb might take a few hours to cook in the oven, but you can prep it in the morning and then allow your home to fill with the scent of roasted meat all day long. Carving is easier if you’re buying it boneless, but even with the bone-in you can still get lovely slices of lamb.
So, the choice really just depends on how you feel about the timing while cooking and ease of carving later on. Whichever cut you chose, you’ll have a tasty main course for your Easter dinner!
Season and Sear Your Easter Lamb
Seasoning your cut of lamb is another decision that can vary based on your tastebuds, but it works well with herbs like rosemary, thyme, and garlic. You can put them in the roasting pan whole or finely chop them and rub onto the lamb. A dash of salt and pepper are important seasonings for any meat or poultry, so sprinkle enough of each until it’s lightly covered.
Once your lamb is well seasoned, you might think it’s ready for the oven — but not quite. Instead, the key to a perfectly cooked lamb is giving it a good sear in a pan, which locks in the flavor and starts the browning process. It will also help it develop a nice outer crust as it’s roasting in the oven. Searing it is as easy as heating a few tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil in a pan on medium heat, adding the lamb, and letting it cook for about 5-6 minutes per side until they’re browned.
After that, you can transfer the seared lamb to a roasting pan — and don’t forget to pour those amazing juices from the searing pan into the roasting dish for added flavor as it cooks.
Cooking Times and Temperatures for Easter Lamb
It’s important to get the cooking time just right to make sure your lamb doesn’t end up dry and chewy lamb.
Let’s say you’re roasting a 5 to 7 pound bone-in leg of lamb, aim to let it cook at 325 degrees for 20 to 25 min per pound. Once it’s roasted, let it rest for at least three minutes and then take its internal temperature. A meat thermometer (Buy at Walmart, $6.99) inserted into the thickest part of the lamb should register at 145 degrees for medium rare, 160 for medium, and 170 if you like it well-done. (American Lamb has a handy guide for cooking times and temperatures for any size or cut so you’ll know it’s cooked to your liking.)
Before you stick a whole piece of meat onto one of your favorite serving platters, carving it correctly is another crucial step for getting yummy slices of lamb everyone will enjoy.
How to Carve a Leg of Lamb
If you think that carving a leg of lamb is as nerve-wracking as carving a whole turkey, think again! A boneless leg of lamb is much easier to cut into because you can slice it lengthwise against the grain without a pesky bone getting in the way.
But, if you love it with the bone-in, Real Simple has an easy technique for making sure that no bits of lamb go to waste as you’re carving. First, cut a few thin slices parallel to the bone and place them on your serving platter. Next, sit the leg with the cut side facing down on the cutting board. Then start slicing the meat above the bone until the whole leg is sliced.
Lastly, make a final horizontal slice across the top of the bone, which will create individual slices. Arrange the rest of the meat on the platter and garnish with any leftover herbs you might have.
You can watch how to do this easy carving method in Real Simple’s tutorial below:
If you went for lamb chops and cooked a full rack, use the bones as a guide on where to cut. Slice the meat in between each chop in a downward motion until the entire rack is cut into individual lamb chops.
And after you enjoyed either of these delicious lamb cuts, don’t throw away the bone! Any meat still left on it makes for a great sandwich the day after, or you can use the bone to make a soothing broth. Just keep it in a plastic bag in the fridge and decide how you’re going to cook with it within the next day or two.
Holiday dinners don’t have to put you in panic mode over how everything is going to turn out. Keeping these tips in mind as you’re making your roasted lamb on Easter Sunday will make it as tender and flavorful as possible!
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