Thursday, April 05, 2012

Recipe: Slow Roasted Greek Style Leg of Lamb with Lemony Potatoes and Braised Swiss Chard: an Easy Yet Elegant One Pan Easter Dinner

Less Fuss, More Flavor—and lots of garlic and fresh Greek oregano (recipe here).

"I tried your recipe for the slow roasted lamb and it is fantastic. I'll be making it again soon!"

"Absolutely delicious, I would cook it again and again. Coming from Australia, where roasts are a weekly meal for most families, we were still blown away by it. Thanks for the great recipe!"

You don't need a holiday to serve this healthy, flavorful, lemon- and oregano-infused leg of lamb dinner, but it's definitely worthy of a celebration. The recipe is here, and you can read more about it below.

I'm often asked if we eat any of the animals we raise here on the farm, and the answer is yes. We produce all natural, grass-fed lamb and beef for ourselves and others. To us, there is no better meat than that which comes from an animal you know enjoyed a happy, healthy, natural, dare I say spoiled? life.

Sadly, this is not how most of the meat animals in this country are raised. Giant, inhumane factory farms and horrid conditions abound. Local Harvest is an excellent resource for finding naturally and sustainably produced meat, vegetables, fruits, dairy products, and other foods in your area.

In the wonderful book, Cooking With Shelburne Farms: Food and Stories from Vermont (which is currently available used from amazon.com for as little as $1.68) there's a chapter called Caring for the Flock, which perfectly expresses how I feel about raising animals for meat:

More below. . .

The Shelburne Farms' Children's Farmyard is an educational farm within the working farm, where visitors can milk a cow or goat, collect eggs, and learn how to carefully pick up a chicken, feed the animals, and maybe even witness a sow or a ewe giving birth.

The natural cycle of a farm also, undeniably, includes the other end of life. A poster on the wall of the Farmyard carefully explains the life of a Shelburne Farms lamb and finishes with a photograph of a beautifully plated dish from the Inn.

It is true that lambs are about as cute as food gets, and that makes some people uncomfortable, but, "we raise animals for human consumption here," says Sam Smith plainly, a farmer and educator at Shelburne Farms [a 1,400-acre nonprofit environmental education center, working farm, Inn, and National Historic Landmark]. "People need to recognize where their food is coming from."

It is most important to Sam—and to Shelburne Farms—that the flock be managed to the highest environmental and humane standards, leaving the animals on pasture and the lambs with their mothers as long as possible.

"I raise them in the best way that I can, and I try to educate people," Sam says. "You can't force people to do anything, but you can educate them. And I think the farmyard is probably the best place in the world to educate people about what they're eating."

(You can read my rave review of Cooking with Shelburne Farms, which includes a fabulous recipe from the book for grilled lamb burgers with roasted red pepper, parsley, and kalamata olive relish here.)

Almost everything I do on the farm—whether it's spreading sheep manure in the organic kitchen garden, tending to our flock of laying hens, or hiking down to the barn to check on the pregnant ewes at two a.m. every night during lambing season—in some way revolves around food. Really good, real food.

We're proud of the animals we raise, and when we sit down to a beautiful meal like this, or when our customers tell us our lamb is the best they've ever tasted—and that two "I don't eat lamb" people they served it to went home with leftovers—we know that all of our hard work is worth it.

My recipe is adapted from the delightful cookbook, Falling Cloudberries: A World of Family Recipes by Tessa Kiros, and after making it for the first time three years ago, I haven't cooked a leg of lamb any other way since.

The chunks of roasted lemon and creamy cloves of garlic are addicting, and braising the (optional) Swiss chard and raisins in the roasting pan juices for ten minutes while the meat rests gives you a ridiculously tasty side dish.

With this method, the meat is cooked until extremely well done, but in a really good way. It comes apart with a fork, is sort of 'dry' like barbecue, and the texture is similar to my Slow Cooked Dutch Oven Lamb Shanks or Shoulder Roasts, only with some crunchy edges (which I think are the best part). The cooking time is also fairly flexible—which can come in quite handy—and it's pretty much impossible to overcook.

Unlike traditional roasted leg of lamb recipes, this one cooks for several hours, but the actual prep work is minimal—and the entire meal uses just one big pan. If you happen to have any leftovers, they taste even better the next day.

Are you a lamb fan? You might also enjoy these other recipes:

Still hungry? You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.

© FarmgirlFare.com, always working up an appetite, always eating well.

9 comments:

  1. Kudos to you. It makes such a difference when you know your food and know that it had a good life.

    Cheers,
    Jeff

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  2. Sounds delectable, meat raised humanely tastes quite different from factory farmed; to me the choice is plain: Humane raising and butchering and moderation in consumption.

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  3. How's this for annoying? We don't have any lamb left for Easter dinner this year. The two lambs we kept for ourselves last fall are all gone, because apparently we are gluttons. The MiL mentioned buying a leg of lamb for Easter, but come on. BUY lamb? Us? Please. We're having prime rib instead.

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  4. How I wish I lived close enough to buy some lamb from you; it's my very favorite type of meat.

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  5. SALLY WILLIAMS (TORONTO, CANADA)4/19/2011 7:05 PM

    I absolutely love your blog. I decided not to eat meat a year ago, but I respect people who make a conscious effort to be connected to their food. I am saddened to read about large abbattoirs buying up smaller businesses both in the USA and here in Canada. I guess my only hope for organic farmers like yourselves is that you are able to slaughter your animals in a humane way. Will never forget the tears I shed reading about a poor farmer having to watch his flock go onto a truck to god knows where because that was the only choice he had. My partner grew up helping his uncle on a farm in Ireland and they had someone come to the farm to take care of this, one by one, in a way that minimized the stress of the animals. God bless small scale, organic farmers :)

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  6. Oh, what a beautiful Easter meal idea, thank you. Where I live at the moment (in the Greek neighbourhood), it is traditional to have lamb, and I love that I got this recipe from you!
    I am still so happy to have learned how to make pizza from your site, and am one of the people who got a pizza stone because of your recommendation :)
    Wishing you a wonderful Easter.

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  7. J'adore how sticky everything looks. Happy holiday, girlfriend.

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  8. If you can't find leg of lamb can you use some other cut?

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    Replies
    1. You could probably use this same slow cooking technique with lamb shanks or shoulder roasts, but you would need to reduce the cooking time for the smaller cuts of meat.

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