SCOOP DU JOUR is a weekly column by food enthusiast Hannah Howard about eating, cooking, and exploring her way through New York. From a visit with the City’s greatest grocer to discovering the “umami” of love, Fridays are packed with the unique flavor only Hannah can coax out of a culinary experience.
For several centuries and counting, the Pope sits down each year to an Easter dinner of a whole roasted lamb. You don’t have to have the whole animal (although props if you do!) — but I sure hope you have some delicious lamb at your holiday table.
Lamb is rich and musky, savory and tasty, and so eating it as always a great idea.
But why lamb at Easter? The tradition derives from the first Passover of the Jewish people. The sacrificial lamb was roasted and eaten, with unleavened bread in hopes that the angel of God would “pass over” (hence, Passover) their homes and spare their families harm. The Hebrews that converted to Christianity brought along their culinary traditions. Plus, Jesus is sometimes referred to as The Lamb of God. The symbolism fits.
A sad statistic: Americans put away over 100 pounds of chicken per year (that’s for one American person!), but when it comes to lamb, we eat a mere 0.8 pounds annually. Hardly any lamb at all; such a shame. Don’t be one of these poor lamb-deprived Americans! Put lamb on your table and any occasion is instantly special. (It doesn’t have to be Easter to dig into some lamb!)
Plus, it’s healthy — lamb is a great source of protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin B-12. If you are what you eat, and you are what you eat eats, find yourself some grass-fed lamb. Most cattle and lamb are fed grain for speedy fattening, but their natural diet is the bounty of the pasture. More and more, farmers are opting for grass. The result is meat with more omega-3’s and super healthy conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), plus a more complex, subtly sweet, and herby flavor from all those green goodies the lambs are munching on.
American lamb tends to skew milder and sweeter, and our animals are significantly larger and fattier. Domestic lamb costs more, too. Sorry. Smaller New Zealand and Australian lamb packs a stronger flavor punch — some find the gaminess off-putting, but I’m a fan of the funk.
A rack of lamb is stupid-simple to prepare. Rub it with plenty of garlic, whatever herbs turn you on, olive oil, and salt, then roast the beauty in a 450 degree oven for about 25 minutes. Gorgeousness.
But my ultimate easy-fancy dinner of the moment? Rosemary lamb chops. They deliver on deliciousness and wow factor. I love the lamb chop size and feel, not too big, just right — like lamb lollipops. There’s something so satisfying about sucking that last juicy, bawdy meat from the bone.
Go get ‘em.
Garlicky Rosemary Lamb Chops
6-10 fresh small bone-in lamb chops
Good olive oil
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
Dress lamb chops generously with garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Place on baking sheet. Broil super briefly, about three minutes per side, maybe even less. Let rest briefly, then serve and devour.
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