Butcher’s Block: spring lamb

By easyFood

11 April 2018

Why do we traditionally eat lamb at Easter?
Traditionally, it’s linked with Christian symbolism and the idea of Jesus as “the lamb of God.” From a practical standpoint, it’s also because lamb happens to be in season. People have a misconception that spring lambs are these tiny babies, but in fact they are 3-4 months old at this point and have been fattened nicely.

I’ve sometimes heard lamb referred to as “hogget” – are they the same thing?
Technically, no. The meat from a sheep up to one year old is known as lamb, while hogget is that from a slightly older sheep between one and two years of age. It has a stronger flavour than lamb and requires slightly longer cooking times, making it more suitable for roasting, stewing and braising. When a sheep reaches full maturity, its meat is then known as mutton.

Which is better for roasting – a boned, rolled leg of lamb, or a bone-in leg?
Either will be delicious, so this is really a matter of personal preference. If I had to choose, I would go for a leg on the bone as it will potentially have a bit more flavour; however, a boned and rolled leg can be more convenient as it will take less time to cook and be easier to carve.

Is there a particularly good cut of lamb for slow-cooking rather than roasting?
Shoulder is very good for slow-cooking. Alternatively you could buy a lap of lamb, which is extremely good value and lovely when slow-roasted.

What cut of lamb would you recommend for a smaller family?
The best options would be a mini lamb roast or else a rack of lamb.

We’re not big fans of lamb in our house. What else would you recommend for Easter Sunday dinner?
Turkey and ham are becoming more popular at Easter. A beef rib roast would be a great splash-out option.

What are the cooking times for roast lamb?
Aim for 20 minutes per 500g for medium-rare, or 25 minutes for medium. I would recommend that you don’t cook lamb further than medium in order to make the most of its tenderness.