It’s spring, and that means it’s lamb season. Which is true, but not accurate. Or something like that. Let me explain.
It used to be, when we lived more pagan-istic lives dictated by the season, that springtime was lamb time because, following the sheep’s natural cycle, that’s when lamb was most available. But nowadays, like so many other things, lamb is available year round.
So why is spring a great time to enjoy lamb? Habit maybe. Advertising. Because lamb is so associated with spring holidays, like Easter and Passover. And because it goes so well with other springtime goodies like asparagus and mint.
All of which is good enough for me!
Whatever your reason, dig in. A rack of lamb is the perfect dinner for two. It cooks up quick enough for a weeknight, but it’s elegant enough for a romantic supper. Cook two or three racks for a bigger party.
A leg of lamb is also a beautiful thing. When I was single and my mother visited, we always cooked ourselves a leg of lamb slathered in olive oil, paprika, and cumin seeds. It’s too big for one, but just right for three or four—or two over the course of a few days. :)
Lamb makes a wonderful spring stew—with white beans, carrots, and parsnip, perhaps—and you can enjoy ground lamb in any number recipes, including a lamburger. (Look for my Lamburgers with Blue Cheese and Basil Mayonnaise in the June/July issue of Fine Cooking.)
And let’s not forget our friend the lamb chop, as in these Lemon-Garlic Lamb Chops with Minted Couscous, a recipe I also created for Fine Cooking. If all those delicious adjectives weren’t enticement enough, you can make it under 30 minutes.
The only problem with lamb is that it’s increasingly hard to find. When I shopped for the recipe you see here, my supermarket only had leg of lamb, ground lamb, and lamb shoulder chops. Too bad for them, and for the all-around enjoyment of lamb. But good for my local butcher—and yours—who is happy to order whatever we want—lamb and otherwise—on the off-chance he/she doesn’t have it.
Bottom line, cook up a lamb chop or a leg of lamb or a rack of lamb and celebrate leaves on trees, longer days, and warmer nights.
Spring has sprung.