This weekend, families across the country and around the world will celebrate Easter with leg of lamb dinners, egg hunts and lots of chocolate bunnies. But how did lamb, eggs and chocolate become iconic aspects of the Easter tradition, much like turkey and cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving?
The tradition of eating lamb on Easter has its roots in early Passover observances before the birth of Christianity. According to the biblical Exodus story, the people of Egypt suffered a series of terrible plagues, including the death of all firstborn sons. Jews painted their doorposts with sacrificed lamb’s blood so that God would “pass over” their homes while carrying out the punishment. Accustomed to eating roast lamb on Passover, Jews who converted to Christianity continued the tradition at Easter. Additionally, Christians refer to Jesus as the “Lamb of God,” so it makes sense that the food shows up at the Easter table. On a less symbolic note, lamb would have been one of the first fresh meats available after a long winter with no livestock to slaughter.
Roast rack of lamb with crushed potatoes (Jamie Oliver)
- 10 Anya potatoes
- 1 handful of cherry tomatoes
- 1 handful of Kalamata olives
- olive oil
- 1 quality 6-bone rack of lamb
- a few sprigs of rosemary
- 6 cloves of garlic
- Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas 5.
- Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water for 10 to 15 minutes, or until tender, then drain. Meanwhile, squeeze the seeds from the tomatoes, and destone the olives.
- Heat a lug of oil in a large frying pan over a high heat, add the lamb rack and sear until golden, then remove to a plate.
- Crush the drained potatoes and tip into the frying pan, then fry for a couple of minutes over a medium-low heat.
- Stir in the tomatoes and olives, then season with sea salt and black pepper. Pick in the rosemary, scatter over the unpeeled garlic cloves, and drizzle with a little oil. Transfer to a roasting tray.
- Place the lamb on top of the potatoes. Depending on the size of the racks, the lamb will take somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes to cook, but will still be pink in the middle – use your instincts (add 5 to 10 minutes if you like your meat well done).
- When the lamb is cooked to your liking, slice it into chops and serve with the crispy potatoes. Delicious served with a little salsa verde or an extra drizzle of oil.
Enjoy! Happy Easter!