Easy leg of lamb is worth the time

Roast the ingredients and forget for a while

Easter dinner isn’t meant to be a rushed affair. And neither should the meat you serve at it.

Which doesn’t mean you have to work particularly hard at it. This flavorful, slowly roasted leg of lamb from Sarah Raven’s cookbook, “Fresh From the Garden,” is a great example of the wonders you can work when you’re not even in the kitchen. Combine the marinade, add the meat, refrigerate and walk away for 24, even 48 hours.

When you’re ready to cook, dump everything in a roasting pan, walk away for 4 1/2 hours and you are good to go. The only real effort involves making the gravy to serve with the lamb. And even that is just a matter of tossing the roasting pan on the stove and simmering for a bit.

Five-Hour Leg of Lamb

Recipe from Sarah Raven’s “Fresh From the Garden,” Universe, 2011. This recipe cooks the lamb to well done. If you prefer the lamb less done, start checking it after 3 to 3 1/2 hours until it reaches the desired temperature.

For the marinade:

750-milliliter bottle dry white wine

5 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted and coarsely ground

2 tablespoons coriander seeds, toasted and coarsely ground

5 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

For the lamb:

5- to 5 1/2-pound leg of lamb

3 carrots, chopped

2 onions, chopped

3 leeks, chopped

4 cloves garlic

For the gravy:

2 cups vegetable or meat stock

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/2 cup port or red wine

2 tablespoons red currant jelly

Salt and black pepper, to taste

To prepare the marinade, in a 2 1/2-gallon zip-close plastic bag, combine wine, garlic, cumin, coriander, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well.

Add the leg of lamb, close the bag and toss well to cover. Stand the bag upright (or double bag) in a large bowl or bucket, then refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours, turning the bag every few hours to coat the meat.

Five hours before you wish to serve the lamb, heat the oven to 300 degrees.

In a large roasting pan, arrange the carrots, onions, leeks and garlic in an even layer. Place the leg of lamb over the vegetables, then pour the marinade in the bag over everything. Roast for 4 1/2 hours.

Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the lamb to a serving platter.

Cover the lamb with foil, then a layer of kitchen towels. Let rest for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over low, heat the stock.

Use a slotted spoon to discard the vegetables from the roasting pan. Let the liquid in the pan rest for several minutes, then spoon off any visible fat. Set the roasting pan over 1 or 2 burners and heat over medium, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen any stuck bits. Sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for another 1 to 2 minutes.

Slowly pour the stock into the roasting pan, stirring until it becomes a smooth gravy. Stir in the port and jelly, then simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the lamb with the gravy.

Yield: 8 servings

Approximate nutrition per serving: 564 calories, 34 grams fat (14 grams saturated, 55 percent fat calories), 43 grams protein, 7 grams carbohydrate, 152 milligrams cholesterol, no dietary fiber, 815 milligrams sodium.

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