relaxing with easter lamb

marinating butterflied spiced leg of lamb

People often ask me whether I regret leaving the wine industry to return the life of a corporate slave. And to tell you the truth, I don’t think there’s been a single moment when I’ve wished I was back in a dark cellar with waterlogged boots and hands stained a very mechanic-like deep purple from repeated exposure to red ferments.

Sure I miss the camraderie of working crazy vintage hours with like minded wine obsessives, certainly some of the most colourful individuals you could ever hope to meet. Sure I miss swearing like a sailor all day and having beefy biceps that would make Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2 look like a wimp. And I definitely miss tasting and discussing in detail the various nuances of each different drop.

But overall I’m much happier playing the simple role of wine consumer with dry feet and soft white hands. And at Easter time I’m even more happy to be taking things easy on the right side of the tasting counter while the cellar crew are busy with the demands of vintage; crushing, pressing, plunging, filling barrels, emptying barrels and endless endless cleaning.

This Easter I’ve been lucky enough to be relaxing on The Apple Isle also known as Tasmania, or Tassie. A couple of days exploring the very Scottish feeling Hobart with it’s many real life fishing boats and postcard perfect cottage architecture. A long boozy lunch on a balcony with a view down south near Woodbridge. Lazing around in seaside stone cottages with a prime view of the Freycinet Peninsula home to one of the world’s most beautiful beaches in the evocatively named Wineglass Bay. Waking up and eating chocolate eggs in bed on Easter Sunday. Ending the day with a leisurely BBQ of traditional lamb given a twist with some Lebanese spicing and a hearty chickpea and yoghurt salad…..all good things…

a relaxing easter sunday dinner
tassie ewe’s milk cheese & crackers
BBQ butterflied spiced leg of lamb
chickpea, yoghurt & baby spinach salad
hot chocolate souffle with raspberries & creme fraiche*

*for souffle recipe click HERE.

bbq butterflied spiced leg of lamb
serves 6 – 8

The great thing about deboning the lamb is that it cooks in a fraction of the time and then there’s the added bonus of super easy carving. You could of course get your butcher to  do all the hard work for you if your knife skills aren’t up to the challenge.

BBQing lemon halves makes for an easy and healthy sauce that adds a lovely freshness to the spicy lamb. They’re also a perfect partner for BBQ fish or even chicken.

Baharat is a Lebanese blend of seven spices.  It’s available online from Herbies Spices (see sidebar link) or if you feel like making your own I’ve detailed the recipe HERE. Or if seven spices seems a little too much you could just go for a three spice blend of equal quanities of ground cumin, corriander, and smoky paprika.

1 leg lamb
6 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked
3 cloves garlic, peeled & chopped
4 T extra virgin olive oil
2T baharat
4 lemons, halved crosswise

To debone the lamb place on a work surface with the most meaty side down. Starting at one end, take a small sharp knife preferably a boning knife and gently cut  along the bone the length of the leg. Gradually cut the meat from the bone folllowing the bone closely until you can remove the bone.   

When the bone is removed you’ll have one piece of meat with a thick section and a thinner part. Cut lengthwise through the thickest part about half way through only and then open the flap out like a book to create a larger piece of meat approximately the same thickness all over.

Combine rosemary, garlic, spices and oil and season well. Rub marinade over the surface of the lamb and place in a ceramic bowl and cover. Marinate at room temp for 2 hours or as long as you’ve got (if longer than 2 hours best to refrigerate and remove a couple of hours before cooking).

Heat a BBQ until very hot. Cook lamb for 3mins each side and place lemon halves cut side down. Reduce heat to medium low and continue to cook for 10 to 15 mins or until cooked to your liking. Remove lemons when slightly charred and keep warm. When meat is cooked, wrap in foil and allow to rest for at least 15 mins before carving. Serve with bbq lemon halves alongside.

chickpea, yoghurt & baby spinach salad
serves 6 – 8

This is a great little salad on it’s own but makes the perfect accompaniment to BBQ lamb. If you’re pushed for time you could skip the chickpea boiling step but I like to do it when I’m using tinned chickpeas to make sure there’s none of that yucky tinned flavour left.

4 x 400g cans chickpeas
zest & juice of 1 1/2 lemons
1/2C (125mL) extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2C (375mL)natural yoghurt
1 small red onion, finely chopped
8 handfuls baby spinach
2 handfuls flaked almonds, toasted

Drain chickpeas and place in a large saucepan. Cover with water and bring to the boil, drain and allow to cool to room temp. In a very large bowl combine lemon juice & zest with oil, yoghurt, and onion. Season and stir through cooled chickpeas and allow to stand for at least 10mins.

Before serving toss through spinach leaves and arrange on a large platter. Sprinkle over toasted nuts. 

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