Cumin and Fennel-Crusted Roast Lamb
Before I get into this amazing lamb recipe, I want to thank all of you for the outpouring of support and condolences over the loss of my Grandma last week. Your kind words are heartwarming.
I have made this lamb recipe twice now and I fall more and more in love with it each time I make it. I have never eaten much lamb outside of Easter dinner. My mom always made a roasted leg of lamb served with the requisite mint jelly and I’d always put a little on my plate, but nothing about it ever made me crave it outside of the holiday. My Chief Culinary Consultant, however, has always been a huge lamb fan. He was sick this past Easter and didn’t get to enjoy any lamb, so I surprised him a couple of weeks later with this dinner to make up for his missed meal. I had searched for a quick and easy roast lamb recipe that didn’t feed an army and settled on this one, as the spice combination sounded outstanding. It was a huge hit, and it will probably become “the” lamb recipe in my cooking arsenal.
The lamb is crusted with a combination of garlic and crushed black peppercorns, fennel and cumin seeds, which makes for an unbelievable flavor and an even more amazing aroma. Most baking smells are pretty familiar to all of us – chocolate chip cookies, a vanilla cake, cinnamon and fall spices, chocolate, etc. This one, however, is one I wish I could bottle and create a scratch-and-sniff sticker for because it’s that incredible. The smell that wafts from the oven while this is roasting is positively intoxicating. And then once you take a bite? Swoon. That amazing crust houses lamb that is tender and melts in your mouth. Definitely a meal fit for a king.
I don’t post many meat recipes because I don’t eat it all that often and it’s not typical that I make a meat-based dish that I find so out-of-this-world outstanding that I must share it with you here. This lamb recipe, however, is a huge exception. Not only is it quick and easy (hello, weeknight dinner), but it also has tons of complex flavors and tastes positively elegant (hello, dinner party or holiday). If a string of pearls could take on a culinary form, they would want to be this lamb dish.
The original recipe for this lamb included a homemade mint sauce, but I have always enjoyed mint jelly with my lamb, so I stuck with that. Both times I served it with smashed red potatoes and roasted baby carrots, both of which complement the lamb beautifully. I hope you’ll give this recipe a try and enjoy it as much as I have!
Cumin and Fennel-Crusted Roast Lamb
1½ lb. boneless lamb roast
3 cloves garlic, finely minced or put through a garlic press
1 tablespoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1. Remove lamb from the refrigerator 1 hour before starting to bring it to room temperature.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Put the salt, black peppercorns, fennel seeds and cumin seeds in a spice grinder (or use a mortar and pestle) to roughly grind.
3. Rub the outside of the lamb with the garlic. Sprinkle half of the rub over one side of the lamb in a thick layer. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat until very hot. Add a splash of olive oil and place the lamb in the pan, seasoned side down. Sprinkle the remaining rub on the other side of the lamb. Saute until brown and seared, 5 to 6 minutes, then flip and repeat on the other side. Put the pan in the oven and roast until desired doneness (135 degrees F for medium). Remove the pan from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes (it should come up to 145 degrees F for medium while it rests).
4. Slice the lamb and serve with mint jelly.