As introverted as I am, I still believe that humans were meant to be together. Starting out as dependent on our families and tribes we have slowly evolved to become isolated and independent. That explains why it is so wonderful to enjoy your family and community on holidays like Easter. Enjoying an entire afternoon and evening just relaxing, enjoying each others company, plenty of wine and food, and lucking out this year and being able to watch basketball.
Lamb is our go to for easter as for much of the rest of the world. Why lamb you ask?
It could be host of various reasons;
the fact that spring lamb is nice, young, and tender.
the Pope has it for his dinner, so it makes sense to follow his lead,d which leads to a lot of symbolism.
it is cheap in certain countries.
and let’s be honest, American ham is disgusting, and slightly more unejoyable than bamboo shoots under your fingernails.
I’ve always wanted to do the following with my daughter to give her both the culinary aspect and symbolism of lamb.
I want to give her a lamb as a Christmas present to teach her about Christ being a lamb and coming to save us. Teach her about chores and responsibility by having her take care of the lamb. On Good Friday we could slaughter the lamb to teach about Christ’s death and sacrifice for us. It would also be a great opportunity to teach about the importance of animals, understanding how they are food, and what goes into slaughtering and butchering them. We could start preparing the lamb to teach about how Christ’s body was prepared, as well as cooking and what goes into preparing meat for a meal. Then on Easter we could partake of the lamb, essentially being communion, and discuss how life is given through death.
Needless to say, my wife doesn’t think the idea is as great as I do.
But I digress.
Not liking to repeat recipes out of monotony and boredom, I decided to try something different this year. I’ve never been able to figure out if herbs and flavor were made for lamb, or lamb for herbs and flavor. I got a wild hair while planning, and decided to incorporate brown butter with my lamb.
Brown butter is inspiringly interesting. Watching the the butter melt, the fats and lipids break down, foam starting to go out of control, and filling the kitchen with the smell of roasted hazelnuts is quite enjoyable. It can quickly go from brown butter to burnt butter, so I constantly stir it, remove it from heat, check it, and repeat until it is the consistency you want. Once it cooled and started becoming the consistency of butter again, I crushed some rosemary, threw it in, and mixed it up. This can be used for anything just like butter, but with a much deeper, intense, flavor.
I love to sous vide meats because it is so easy to set it and forget it until you need it. In my mind, it is a modern crockpot. You don’t have to worry about burning it, or drying the meat out. If you don’t have a sous vide machine, and have tons of butter, you could confit the meat in the traditional style. I only had 1 lb of brown butter, and I have a sous vide machine, so that is what I used to confit my leg of lamb. I put the lamb in a bag with rosemary and garlic, poured the brown butter all over it, vacuum sealed the bag, and started the sous vide. The internal temperature needs to get up to 135 for a nice medium rare, so that is what I set it to. If you cook lamb over 14 hours, too much fat can be rendered, the meat breaks down, and the texture becomes mealy.
The flavor remains, and I’ve received many compliments on the flavor of meat, but the meat just doesn’t feel right in your mouth.
Knowing that herbs go so well with lamb, I’ve used all sorts of blends. Rosemary, mint, tarragon, thyme, oregano, basil, coffee, chocolate, etc. Being that it was Easter, I wanted something light, sweet, and pastel colored of possible. What goes with herbs, is sweet, and makes a nice light purple color?
I decided to make a blueberry, rosemary, basil sauce. Taking a pack of fresh blueberries, fresh mint, fresh basil, tarragon, onions, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper, through it in the blender and made a beautiful sauce to accompany my lamb. After placing it in a gravy dish and putting it on the table for several minutes, something happened that I can’t figure out. It congealed, and turned to a jello consistency. The flavor was there, but the sauce wasn’t.
After my lamb had been roasting in the sous vide for 14 hours, my bag was full of lamb fat and brown butter. I already had a blueberry jello made for my lamb, but I decided I wanted to give my family options, as not everyone is as keen to eat blueberries on their lamb as I am. I decided to see if the butter and fat would blend. Pouring the renderings into a pan, heating and stirring, I quickly found out that it won’t reduce and make a sauce.
It becomes a layered mess of blood, butter, and fat.
What if I whisk it?
Nope, goes back to its layered mess.
Fine, I’ll make a gravy instead of a sauce.
It started to blend, but I couldn’t whisk the butter into it enough.
Being stubborn, I didn’t want to waste a pound of brown butter, and a cup of gluten free flour.
I was determined to make it work, so I poured the concoction into the blender, turned it on high, and prayed for the best. Out came a marvelous beige gravy that somehow tasted like manna, straight from Heaven. Here I had put all my planning into the lamb and blueberries, but what received and deserved the most attention was an elementary idea that I was way to stubborn to give up on.
Celebrating Easter with family reduces my workload in the kitchen. I’m responsible for the main dish, and everyone else brings a side dish. Potlucks like this are so interesting and enjoyable. I love seeing what others decide to make, and how it goes with everything else. We had carrots, asparagus, green beans, potatoes, rolls, linoleum salad, and trifle. Ended up being a great meal, with great company, and conversation.
After finishing our meal around 3, and watching basketball for several hours, my appetite started getting the best of me. My favorite thing to do on holiday evenings is to slap together the leftovers between two slices of bread and enjoy again. I found a large gluten free roll, slathered the bottom part with blueberry jello. I found the lamb gravy in the fridge and was surprised to see that it had turned to the consistency of butter. I spread a generous helping on the top half of my roll. After finding the lamb, I shaved a New York deli portion of lamb from the leg, found some pickled red peppers, and enjoyed. Only thing that wasn’t enjoyable was watching Syracuse make it to the final four.