Seder and Leg of Lamb with Gremolata

By Dea O'Hopp (Dea) on March 21, 2010

I wouldn't trade my childhood and growing up years for anything. Raised outside Ft Wayne,Indiana but attended both all White and all Black churches. Spent my teen years in a predominately Jewish neighborhood. I learned so much about cooking and family and am thankful for the richness of diversity my folks provided.

No, I'm not Jewish, but I did grow up in a family that taught me to understand and study the different traditions of both Jewish and non-Jewish families and particularly the meals that were celebrated on the various occasions.  It gave me a deeper appreciation for both the Old and New Testament.  It also helped me when we moved from Indiana to a Washington DC suburb when I was just 12.  Can anyone say culture shock?  I'd have been totally lost without the background my parents provided me.

So when we got to the big city and many of the neighbors were Jewish, I felt very comfortable knowing the whole Seder dinner story vis a vis - what the various types of foods represented. 

I already knew that the bitter herbs such as horseradish represented the slavery the Jews suffered in Egypt.  The roots of romaine lettuce are extremely bitter, so romaine is often used on the Seder plate with horseradish.  There were dried fruits and some nuts, I always had almonds, that were pounded into a paste which represented the bricks they were forced to make out of mud and straw.  Then there is the cooked plain potato or maybe parsley that is dipped into salt water which represent the tears that were shed during these harsh times.  There is the roasted egg.  And there is the roasted lamb which represented the normal sacrifice of those times.

Again, although I'm not Jewish, I have my own version of a Seder meal which we enjoy.  Does it make me stop and think?  Of course it does!  That's all part of cooking and sitting down with family and discussing and sharing.  For instance, I do my Syracuse Salt Potatoes - I'll share the recipe later (let me know if you'd like to have it) - when I do this meal.  I truly love the diversity of my upbringing!

Let's talk gremolata, shall we?  It's beyond heavenly - honest!  Here's the lineup folks - lemon zest, garlic, kosher salt and a few drops of olive oil - I'm whacky so I add rosemary.  Lamb without rosemary?  Not in my kitchen!

First, let's look at the lineup for the gremolata again.  Use a zester or a sharp knife to get some nice lemon zest going.  The lemons won't be wasted.  A good pinch of the kosher salt, grind that pepper mill more than a few cranks, and do, pre-cut the rosemary leaves - these are tough guys.  Maybe a teaspoon of good olive oil - that's all you need.


Now take all of this and put in your mortar and pestle - don't have one?  Just do it all on a cutting board - you'll have to mince everything and then add in the olive oil to combine to get a paste quality.




If you don't know how to de-bone a leg of lamb - or any meat for that matter - let me know and we'll have a photo tutorial on that.  Learning to de-bone is some over the top fun and let's you become a very frugal cook.  You can buy higher quality cuts of meat at a much cheaper price!  So here is our de-boned leg o'lamb.




Take that gremolata mix/paste and work it into the meat - get into all the nooks and crannies please!  Wrap it up and stick it in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours - 8 or 12 hours will not hurt this in the least.




I like lamb rare - you can now grill it, broil it, roast it.  Just cook it to your desired temperature.  I serve this over egg noodles with parsley (yup, got all my Seder ingredients goin' on) and always add some asparagus which reminds me of new beginnings and wait - it's about time for asparagus to begin emerging, right?  Yea baby.




Enjoy !


Related articles:
Diversity, Gremolata, Leg of Lamb, Mortar and Pestle, Seder

« More articles