IT IS Easter; so it must be Paschal lamb. Seasonally, the lambs we get now were most probably born last autumn, or come from New Zealand. Theologically, the rich symbolism is all there, although how old the Passover lambs were that we read of in Exodus is another matter.
For roasting, a whole leg or shoulder weighing as much as 4kg (8 lb) can feed up to ten people. Whatever joint or preparation, make sure it is at room temperature (never straight out of the fridge), and go for the “half-hour sizzle”, which means the oven at its hottest and the joint in for 30 minutes at the start of cooking time. Then turn down to 325°F/170°C/Gas 3 and cook according to weight: 15 minutes per 500g (1 lb) for medium and just pink in the middle; 20 minutes per 500g (1 lb) for well done.
Think more about the preparation, and here are three possibilities. Method A means taking a bunch of sage with about 250g (½ lb) of streaky bacon and chopping it. Then, with a paring knife, slit cavities into the lamb joint and insert a piece of bacon with a leaf or two of sage. Apply olive oil and seasoning, then place in the oven.
For Method B you need a head of garlic and a small tin of anchovies. Again, slit the joint and stuff into the pockets peeled cloves of garlic, and anchovies. Lay out a bunch of rosemary in the roasting tin for the lamb to sit on, top with oil and seasoning, and cook.
Method C calls for preserved lemons and black olives, again to be chopped up and inserted into the meat. Use plenty of freshly ground black pepper for the preparation.
For a sauce, either pour a couple of glasses of wine and water into the tin ten minutes before the end and use for gravy, or chop a bunch of parsley with the grated zest and juice of one lemon, plenty of olive oil, salt and pepper, and a tablespoon of capers.
Many have given up chocolate for Lent. For those brave souls whose sacrifice comes to an end, I offer a homemade Chocolate Trifle.
1 200g (7 oz) pack sponge fingers
3 tablespoons red fruit jam
2 eggs, separated
175g (7 oz) dark chocolate
4 tablespoons cornflour
75g (3 oz) caster sugar
600ml (1¼ pt) milk
50g (2 oz) butter
300ml (10 fl. oz) cream (double or whipping)
Line a glass bowl with the sponge fingers. Then whisk the egg whites, fold in the jam (raspberry or blackcurrant work well) and spoon this over the base.
Over a low heat, whisk together the chocolate, cornflour, sugar, and milk until all combined and creamy. Allow to boil gently and keep stirring for a few minutes to cook through. Remove from the heat, add the butter, cool slightly, then beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Pour this into the bowl, cover with film, and chill in the fridge for two hours.
Before serving, whip the cream and put it over the top of the pudding. Decorate with glace cherries or chocolate buttons.