All you need to know about … Easter Lamb

For observers of Christian traditions, Easter Sunday is the day that the dietary restrictions of Lent are over. Those celebrating Easter are free to feast on meat, eggs and cakes. But why do we eat lamb specifically? Read on to find out more, as well as some lamb cooking tips and ideas.

Jesus is often referred to as the 'lamb of God' and lamb is eaten at Easter to commemorate Jesus’ sacrifice. There are many biblical references representing Jesus as the shepherd leading his faithful disciples. In Greek culture lamb and goat are killed on big feast days, with Easter the most significant feast in the Orthodox calendar.

If you’re feeding a crowd, it’s a lamb roast you’ll need - a full leg or shoulder, either with the bone in, or boned and butterflied.

Roast lamb two ways

There are two ways to roast a leg of lamb or a lamb shoulder – low and slow, so that the meat is soft, deliciously succulent and falling apart, which will take a minimum of four hours on a very low temperature of about 140 -160C – or cooked at a high temperature of about 200 - 220 C for a much shorter time, perhaps 1.5 hours or so depending on the weight, so that it is still pink in the middle, tender and juicy.

Roasting tips – high temperature

  • Rub the leg with olive oil, salt and pepper and make slits in the meat to insert slivers of garlic and small sprigs of rosemary.
  • If you want your lamb to be pink in the middle, it should cook for 10 minutes per 500g. Well-done is double this, at 20 minutes per 500g.  If using a meat thermometer, the internal temperature should be 60C for medium-rare, 65C for medium, and 80C for well-done.
  • Allow the meat to rest once done, covered loosely, for about 20 minutes.
  • While it’s resting, pour off the collected fat and deglaze the roasting pan with a splash of wine to make a simple jus.

Roasting tips – slow cooking

  • Drizzle the lamb leg or shoulder with olive oil, season it with salt and pepper and scatter over some dried or fresh oregano or rosemary.
  •  Preheat the oven to about 140C, fan-forced.
  • Always bring the meat up to room temperature before cooking by taking it out of the fridge for about 15-20 minutes.
  • Place it in a close-fitting roasting dish, on top of a bed of aromatics -  onion wedges, garlic cloves, a bay leaf and sprigs of fresh rosemary or oregano. Add about 1.5 cups of verjuice, water or vegetable stock.
  • Cover the lamb with a sheet of baking paper which has been wet with water and scrunched, and tuck it in nicely over the joint. Then cover the whole roasting dish with foil, ensuring a good seal.
  • Remove the coverings for the second half of the cooking time so that the lamb browns.
  • After about four hours you will have melt-in-the mouth lamb which can be pulled apart with a fork.

Perfect pairings

Lamb goes with:

  • Rosemary
  • Potatoes
  • Mint
  • Anchovies
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Zucchini
  • Garlic
  • Capsicums
  • Broad beans
  • Quinces

And here are some recipes to inspire you, from our recipe collection:

Share this featured content