Easter Sunday dinners are a tradition in many families. Though the COVID-19 pandemic forced families to alter that tradition in 2020, and could very well do so again in 2021, it’s worth noting that Easter takes place in April this year. In many areas, April weather is warm enough to enable al fresco dining, potentially opening the door for families to celebrate together in small groups.
Though this Easter might again feel unusual, families can still lean on their favorite dishes when serving Easter dinner. Perhaps no food is more closely associated with Easter than lamb. This recipe for “Slow-roasted Shoulder of Lamb With Cumin Seeds” from Darina Allen’s “Easy Entertaining” (Kyle Cathie Limited) can make for a delicious Easter dinner.
Slow-roasted Shoulder of Lamb With Cumin Seeds
Serves 8 to 10
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 whole shoulder of lamb on the bone (7-8 lbs.)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
For the cumin gravy:
1 pint homemade lamb or chicken stock (see below)
1 to 2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground Roux (optional)
Warm the cumin seeds lightly in a pan, then crush them using a pestle and mortar. Score the skin of the meat in a diamond pattern with a sharp knife. Transfer to a roasting tin. Sprinkle the meat with salt, pepper and the ground cumin seeds, and drizzle with olive oil.
Roast for 6-7 hours at 275 F — this gives a delicious, juicy, succulent texture. (Alternatively, preheat the oven to 320 F and roast for 2-21⁄2 hours.) Transfer to a serving dish and leave in a warm place while you make the gravy.
To make the cumin gravy, spoon the fat off the roasting tin. Add the stock to the remaining cooking juice. Boil for a few minutes on top of the stove, stirring and scraping the tin well to dissolve the caramelised meat juices (a small whisk is typically ideal for this). Add the ground toasted cumin. Thicken with a little roux if you like. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Pass through a sieve and transfer to a gravy boat.
Carve the meat into thick slices so that everybody gets some crushed cumin seeds. Serve with the cumin gravy and crusty roast potatoes.
Note: For Lamb Roast with Coriander: Substitute coriander seeds for the cumin seeds, both for roasting the limb and flavoring the gravy. Alternatively, use a mix of cumin and coriander seeds.
Note: A shoulder of lamb is much trickier to carve than a leg, but it’s so sweet and juicy that is certainly worth the struggle.
Homemade Chicken Stock
2 to 3 raw or cooked chicken carcasses or a mixture of both
1 onion, sliced
1 leek, split in two
1 outside stick of celery (not the heart, the coarser outside stalks) or 1 lovage leaf
1 carrot, sliced
6 pints cold water
Sprig of thyme
Giblets from the chicken, i.e. neck, heart, gizzard (save the liver for another dish)
Few parsley stalks
Chop up the carcasses as much as possible. Put all the ingredients into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and skim the fat off the top with a tablespoon. Simmer for 3-5 hours. Strain and remove any remaining fat. If you need a stronger flavor, boil down the liquid in an open pan to reduce the volume by one-third or one-half. Do not add salt.