Thinking of lamb for Easter? Here’s a handy how-to and recipe.

SPRING is a time of rebirth and festive celebrations. It’s often associated with spring lamb, although lamb is available year-round.

You can hardly go wrong with a classic leg of lamb, cooked to perfection for a holiday showpiece, as long as you cook it properly. Its shape – larger at the top and narrow toward the shank end – means you can cook it to different degrees of doneness. You can gussy up lamb with herbs and spices. Rosemary, thyme, garlic, coriander, cumin and paprika are natural fits for lamb. It also takes well to marinades and rubs.

So, if leg of lamb is on your holiday menu, here’s a guide:

Buying: Many grocery stores sell bone-in, semi-boneless or boneless legs of lamb. The latter is the easiest to carve and takes less time to cook, but it costs more.

Preparing: Many butchers will cut the bone away from the meat, season the meat and then reroll the meat around the bone. Kitchen string holds the roast in place. You can also marinate or season the lamb to your own liking. Some cooks would recommend keeping the bone and not removing any fat before cooking. You can trim the fat away as you like after you cook it – the fat helps to keep the meat from drying out during cooking.

Cooking: Bring lamb to room temperature before cooking. If you have a meat thermometer, have it ready. For a bone-in or semi-boneless leg, preheat the oven to 200°C and place the lamb on a roasting rack placed over a roasting pan. Make sure there is liquid in the bottom of the pan. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until browned on the outside. (If the leg is small, sear it in oil until browned on all sides in a large skillet and put it in the oven at 175°C.)   Reduce the oven temperature to 175°C and continue roasting for about one to 1½ hours more. After one hour, start checking the temperature. When it reaches 55°C in the thickest part of the leg, take it out.

Slicing and resting: Tent lamb with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing. The temperature will increase by another 5°C. The thickest part of the meat should be medium-rare. Slice into 1.5cm- to 2cm-thick slices. – Los Angeles Times/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services/ Photos: Romain Blanquart/Detroit Free Press/MCT  

Leg Of Lamb With Parsley-garlic Crust And Honey Mint Sauce. Click for recipe.

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