Owing to a slight error of communication we are sharing one lamb shank between two this happy Easter Sunday. It’s a suspiciously large one; “lamb” is defined as a sheep under 12 months of age that does not yet have any permanent incisor teeth. Since all I have is the lower thigh of this particular animal, I can’t check its teeth, but I hope it will prove to have enough tender meat between the outside fat and the inside bone to feed us both. To be on the safe side, I wrapped it in foil with plenty of vegetables – carrot, parsnip, courgette, tomato, garlic – well seasoned with herbes de Provence and extra thyme and rosemary, and it cooked very slowly in its juices with a swig of white wine and some olive oil.
It crossed my mind that if sheep had legs like humans, the cut below the knee would be a lamb’s calf – now that could lead to some confusion.
Celebrity chefs have their recipes for this, all with slight variations that they claim will make the finished dish especially tasty, and I had intended to marinate our little leg – or ankle – in wine overnight, but forgot. Not to worry: that leaves us all the more wine to drink. It is accompanied by mint sauce of course, since we are in England, and at my mother’s request a very large dollop of onion sauce and some roast potatoes.
Thisl sounds very nice, as does Jamie Oliver’s version. I’ve said it before: I can’t follow recipes, I always do something that isn’t in the instructions, or leave something out, and most of the time it works out OK. And this certainly was good!
Lamb is traditional on Easter Sunday because of the association with Jesus Christ as the sacrificial lamb that takes away the sins of the world, the Paschal or Passover Lamb. A few years ago, the church of which I am a member organised a Seder meal on Good Friday, with detailed explanations of each item in the Jewish tradition, and including aspects from the New Testament fulfilling the Old. It was an extremely moving experience, and well worth repeating, though too complicated to go into here. However, it has made me reflect on our traditional ways of celebrating Easter, which is retreating more and more into the pagan festival of Eostre/Ishtar, especially in the multicultural UK.
I have eaten my portion of Easter lamb, and am now turning my attention to a chocolate egg and a bunny, symbols respectively of new life and fertility. Happy Easter, everyone