(Family Features) From picnics and family reunions to al fresco meals on the patio, flavor and freshness can make springtime dishes truly mouthwatering. As you plan your spring menu for time with loved ones, think outside the box with recipes that can feed a crowd.
One easy way to elevate your warm weather entertaining is with a lean, delicate protein like grass-fed lamb available at Whole Foods Market from Atkins Ranch, a leader in environmental stewardship and one of the first members of Land to Market, which advocates for regenerative agriculture – a type of outcomes-based land management that seeks to heal landscapes instead of degrading them. In fact, many of the lamb ranchers set aside areas for conservation purposes to focus on regenerating land and water to keep the environment as pristine as possible.
The lambs are raised just as nature intended: 100% grass-fed and free to roam on pastures in fresh air and sunshine, culminating in a result that’s better for you, the animals and the planet.
As the first lamb producer in the world to achieve Non-GMO Project verification, Atkins Ranch is also the first to achieve Global Animal Partnership Step-4 certification for farm animal welfare. If you’re unfamiliar with lamb, consider these cooking tips and pairing options for a deliciously divine spread at your next springtime soiree.
How to Cook Lamb
For cuts like legs, shanks, shoulder roasts and stew meat, slow cooking is the answer. This Herb Crusted Bone-In Leg of Lamb, for example, is roasted for about 3 hours to reach a juicy tenderness complemented by fresh herbs and a mint sauce.
Turn to the grill or stovetop for a quicker cooking method with cuts such as chops, rack and ground lamb. Cooking over an open fire allows the smokiness to meld with lamb’s naturally rich flavor.
What to Pair with Lamb
With its rich, meaty flavor, lamb is a perfect main course for spring meals. Try balancing it out with these sides:
- Salad – Like many proteins, lamb is complemented well by fresh greens. Toss baby spinach with a light vinaigrette and fresh fruit, like strawberries, for a true springtime salad.
- Sweet Potatoes – The subtlety of a sweet potato dish is nearly a must to pair with lamb. Sweeten the meal even further by mashing with orange juice and zest for a lightly tangy side.
- Asparagus – A classic side for many spring meals, roasted asparagus is easy to prepare whether in the oven or on the grill.
Find more grass-fed lamb cooking tips and recipes at AtkinsRanch.com.
Herb Crusted Bone-In Leg of Lamb
Prep time: 3 hours
Cook time: about 3 hours (depending on size and doneness)
- 1 Atkins Ranch bone-in leg of lamb (about 8 pounds)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 8 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 2 large egg whites
- 2 tablespoons minced rosemary leaves
- 2 tablespoons minced thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons ground peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- fresh mint sauce, for serving
- About 2 hours before preparing, remove leg of lamb from fridge to ensure even cooking. Remove gland to prevent gaminess during cooking.
- Preheat oven to 325 F on convection setting. Score skin of both sides of leg of lamb.
- In bowl, whisk olive oil, garlic, Dijon mustard, salt and white wine. Brush onto both sides of lamb, pressing into scored crevices.
- Place leg in roasting pan on roasting rack. Insert cooking probe into thickest part of meat, not touching bone. Cook about 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 95 F.
- Reduce oven temperature to 300 F and cook to desired doneness. For medium-rare doneness, remove lamb once probe reaches 125 F.
- To make herb curst: In bowl, whisk egg whites until evenly foamy with tiny bubbles. Brush onto both sides of lamb.
- In separate small bowl, mix rosemary, thyme, peppercorns and salt. Press herb crust mixture onto areas brushed with egg whites. Place back in pan and cook about 5-7 minutes until crust is formed and browned. Remove from oven and rest 30 minutes.
- Carve lamb, arrange on platter and serve with fresh mint sauce.