Spring lamb is simply delicious roasted with garlic and mint and served with a rosemary and wine sauce such as in this elegant recipe adapted from Cooking with an Accent by Isabella Gaylord. Traditionally served during Easter and Passover, roasted spring lamb is best paired with a hearty and robust red wine like Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Pinot Noir.
Tender, succulent and delicately sweet, the meat of a young spring lamb melts in the mouth and is already perfect on its own. With a few herbs and spices, its natural flavors are even more enhanced without overwhelming its essence. Some like their roast lamb rare or “medium rare” others prefer their lamb a little more cooked, either “medium” or “medium well.” For medium rare, the internal temperature of the spring lamb ranges from 120 to 145 degrees F. After taking it out of the oven, the lamb continues to cook and the temperature will rise a bit so taking out the lamb at about 130 degrees F is about right (if you desire medium rare, but higher if you want it more cooked). After cooking, let the meat stand for at least 15 minutes before serving. When cooking with lamb, it is best to have an accurate meat thermometer to roast the lamb perfectly.
Compared with beef, lamb cooks better at more moderate heat and slightly slower cooking. Before using, trim off excess fat if you want a healthier dish but the fat can add more flavor and moisture to the roast. Young spring lambs can vary in flavor and texture according to feed, breed, age, and pasture. Some of the most inexpensive yet good quality lambs come from New Zealand where there is more sheep than people. A lamb is aged four months to a year old, any older and the animal is a mutton or hogget, which is less tender with a smokier taste that is ideal for making stews.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut 6 deep gashes into the meatiest part of the lamb. Fill three of these gashes with the mint and 3 with the garlic slices. Season with salt and pepper. Pour some flour into a shallow dish and dredge the meat through it. Shake off any excess.
Place the lamb in a roasting pan in the oven and cook for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. and cook for another hour, or until a thermometer inserted into the center of the lamb reads between 145 degrees F. to 150 degrees F. Remove lamb from pan and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving.
In the meantime, pour the cooking juices into a saucepan. Cook over medium high heat. Reduce by half. Add the wine and rosemary and continue reducing until syrupy. Remove from the heat and add a dollop of butter. Swirl the butter until it melts. Serve the sauce on the side.