I know there are particular judgments about eating lamb. Negative condescension usually comes from people who grew up with no ethnic touches to their background. They have never experienced the Easter feast of lamb with garlic and rosemary or the wondrous indulgence of having the particular mixture of gaminess and domesticity enlivened by mint. Or they just don’t like the thought of little lamby being killed so we can dine. Shame that this particular sense of devotion isn’t bestowed on the lowly clam or shrimp. But I digress. I salute those of you who refuse the succulence of lamb and say thank you since now there is more for me.
When it’s on sale and I am feeling particularly primitive, with a touch of gourmet, I make it a special occasion to have lamb. I usually get Australian lamb since I feel that Australia holds the particular nuances in its culture that I like in my lamb; a bit wild, a bit chic, a bit earthy. This is translated to me in the gaminess of the meat, which melts in the mouth and the complementary taste enhanced by a variety of herbs. Plus the richness of the meat means smaller portions for me since I view it like fine wine or chocolate, just a dab will do ya.
In fact, the symbolism behind eating lamb on the day many Christians feel is the day Jesus rose from the dead to prove he was the Messiah is a form of cannibalism which only further personifies the wafer at the Catholic mass. Being that I was raised Catholic, and am a woman with a wild streak, I can appreciate the eating of this flesh for further fulfillment of my spirituality, especially when paired with the grapey blood to wash it down. I sure do feel like my sins are melting away as the meat melts in my mouth.
Last night I made it simple. I chose a lamb shoulder chop rubbed with a split clove of garlic and seasoned with salt and pepper. Add another rub of olive oil and grill until medium doneness. (The medium is because you let it sit for a few minutes for the juices to redistribute and it will continue cooking to perfection.) I complemented the rich flesh with the light essence of herbs: parsley, rosemary, mint and basil chopped up fine; olive oil; lemon juice; lemon zest; minced garlic; minced shallot; salt and pepper. This was made in advance to bring out the flavors. (It has an intense green flavor so beware for those of you who like a more subtle accompaniment.)
On the side I kept it simple with roasted potatoes I also doused with herb sauce, and a simple veggie salad. Add an Australian Shiraz and you have an elegant meal to be savored and shared. And it was – both.
I still have one chop left and am debating on how to experiment with something new. Lamb is such a flavorful meat that to add too much to it seems a waste. But we will see, maybe I’ll make a tangine with chickpeas, tomatoes, coriander and cumin. Or just rehash the recipe I know so well and enjoy it by myself as a middle of the week treat.