The Passover lamb, also known as the “sacrifice of Passover”, the “Paschal Lamb” is mandated in the Torah to be brought on the eve of Passover, and eaten on the first night of the holiday with bitter herbs and matzo. According to the Torah, it was first offered on the night of the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt. Although practiced by Jews in ancient times, the ritual is no longer performed today except by certain minority groups.
Nonetheless, Braised Passover Lamb has become a traditional dish in many Jewish households for the holiday. It has passed from Judaism to Christianity as well, in the form of Easter Lamb. The flavors of this dish are wonderful.
- 1 boned shoulder of spring lamb, about 3 1/2 pounds (1.59 kilograms), rolled and tied
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 Cup finely chopped onions
- 1/2 Cup finely chopped leeks
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1/2 Cup chicken or veal stock
- 1/2 Cup dry white wine, Kosher for Passover
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 sprigs fresh tarragon, or 1 teaspoon dried
- 2 scallions, finely chopped
- 2 Tablespoons finely minced parsley
- sprigs of parsley for garnish
- Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit (120 degrees Celsius or Centigrade).
- Heat the oil in a casserole large enough to hold the lamb.
- Brown the lamb on all sides over medium heat; it should take at least 15 minutes.
- Remove the lamb from the pan and set aside.
- Add the onions and leeks to the casserole and saute over medium-low heat until they are tender and just turning golden.
- Stir in the garlic.
- Return the lamb to the casserole and add the stock, wine, lemon juice, tarragon and scallions.
- Bring to a simmer, cover and place in the oven.
- Bake the lamb for five hours; by then it should be extremely tender.
- Remove the lamb from the casserole.
- Strain the sauce into a heavy saucepan.
- Skim off as much fat as possible.
- Place the solids in a blender or food processor along with 1 tablespoon of the minced parsley.
- Puree, adding a little of the sauce if necessary.
- Add this puree to the sauce, reheat and check seasonings.
- Remove the strings from the lamb.
- Slice the roast down the middle the long way, then cut it into chunks.
- Layer the meat into a bowl or loaf pan that holds 5 to 6 cups, then unmold onto a warm serving platter.
- Sprinkle the remaining minced parsley over the top, garnish the platter with parsley sprigs and serve, with the sauce on the side.
You may alternatively make this with lamb shanks, as shown in the photo left.
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