Leg of Lamb with Garlic and Herbs

Garlic with about 1/4" chopped off the top

 

Great any time, this is a particular favorite around Easter at our house.  (To find out more about celebrating Passover in your Christian home, see this post.)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs (ex.: rosemary, thyme, oregano)

1/4 cup chopped garlic

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 leg of lamb (5-6 lb, bone in preferable)

20 fresh rosemary sprigs

5 heads of garlic, 1/4″ cut off top

1/4 cup Madeira *

2 cups beef stock

You will also need:

Large roasting pan

Sauce pan

Method:

Combine herbs, chopped garlic, zest, 1 teaspoon salt, 3 tablespoons EVOO and pepper. Coat lamb with mixture.

In a large roasting pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons oil. Brown lamb 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter.

Arrange rosemary in center of pan. Place lamb, fat side up on top. Arrange garlic heads around lamb.

Roast at 450 F for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 F. Cook until thermometer reads 130 F for medium-rare, about 1 hour. Transfer to carving board, cover loosely with foil and let rest 20 minutes.

Skim fat from pan & set over medium heat and add Madeira, stirring to scrape up browned bits from pan bottom and smash roastic garlic & add stock. Strain into a saucepan; cook over medium heat until thickened, 5-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Carve lamb and pass sauce alongside.

*In place of Madeira I have used just about any red wine that I have on hand that we will be drinking with dinner; from Merlot to Cabernet. Whatever you’ve got. Or, you might try just a little balsamic vinegar for a different taste and a non-alcoholic version.

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Celebrating Passover

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As we embark on this most holy week leading up to the celebration of Resurrection Sunday, I want to remind you of another occasion that you may want to consider observing.  Passover.

Yes. You heard me right. Passover.

No. I’m not Jewish. As I’ve said before, I’m a Protestant believer in Christ.  A Gentile, even.  But I am one who has, for several years, observed Passover with my family in some form.

About 11 years ago, I heard a man who was invited to our church talk specifically about the Passover meal that Christ would have shared with his disciples in the upper room with His disciples.  This was, for me, a first.  It was the first time that the connections between the old and new testaments of the Bible had really been made for me.  It was the first time I had seen Christ as my Passover Lamb.

Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” ~ 1 Corinthians 5:7

The Passover lamb’s blood on the doorposts were just a foreshadowing of Christ’s blood shed for us on the cross; covering our sins and keeping us from the wrath that we deserve. 

Since that time, we have observed Passover in our home in one way or another. Not necessarily a full Passover Seder as would be observed in a Jewish home, but by serving lamb and telling our children the story.  Our oldest child is 10 years old, so my children have been hearing this their whole lives.   In fact, they look forward to it each year with great anticipation.

Recently, my Sunday morning 1st & 2nd grade teaching partner at church suggested that we serve a Passover meal to our kids on one Sunday morning leading up to Easter.  Clearly I thought it was a wonderful idea, so we invited the 3rd & 4th grade teachers to join us and began to prepare. 

I began to do more research on the traditional Passover Seder that would be served in a Jewish home and came to realize that I could easily do much more than I had been without a lot more effort or confusion.

I want to encourage you, today, to consider recognizing and even celebrating Passover in your own home.  If not this year, then in years to come.  Help connect those dots between the Old and New Testament for your children.  Help them to see that the entire Bible is all about Jesus and God’s plan for our salvation.  Celebrating Passover in your home is a multi-sensory way to do just that. 

The following are elements of the Passover that you could easily include in your regular meal as a family on the Thursday night before Easter. (Or any night leading up to Easter, really.  We have that freedom in Christ under grace and not under the law.) Do some of your regular side dishes and some things the kids will really like along with these things to make it an enjoyable experience for them.  Some elements were added by the Jewish leaders as a part of the Passover celebration to aid in the teaching of the story to the children and are not specifically mentioned in the Bible.  However, all of these elements would have been in place and present at the Passover meal that Jesus shared with His disciples the day before his crucifiction.  You may want to warn your kids that they won’t like everything that they taste, but liking it is not the point.  The point is the experience and tasting things similar to what the Israelites and even Jesus would have tasted.

That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast.” ~ Exodus 12:8

Bread without yeast: 

The Israelites in Egypt were to eat “in haste” and be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.  They did not have time to wait for their bread to rise and for the yeast to do its work.  But also, later in the Bible, we see that Jesus, in many cases, compares sin to yeast (see Luke 12:1). If you study a piece of Matzah bread, you will notice some small holes.  In order to keep it from rising at all it is pierced.  And it is cooked on racks that form stripes across it. At the end of the traditional Passover meal, a piece of the Matzah bread is wrapped in a linen cloth and hidden.  The children then all go to look for it and the one that comes back with it gets a prize of some sort.  Then that bread that has been brought back is shared among those at the table.  So think through this with me: the bread that is pierced and striped is wrapped in linen and hidden for a time and he who finds it gets a reward and shares that piece of bread with those around him. Is it any wonder that Christ said to his disciples, “Take and eat; this is my body.” (Matthew 26:26).

Parsley and salt water : 

Symbolizing Springtime, the parsley is dipped in salt water to remind us of the tears of the Jewish slaves.  The salt water can also symbolize the tears of the Egyptians as they endured the 10 plagues.  You can dip your fingers in the salt water and sprinkle a bit on your plate for each plague as you go through and name each of them.

Grated Horseradish: 

This bitter herb reflects the bitter affliction of slavery.  Warn your children that this will not taste good at all.  It’s not supposed to.  And if eaten in the amounts as done in a Jewish home (about a table spoon on a piece of unleavened bread) it will induce tears even further reminding us of the bitterness of slavery.  You may want to talk to your children about what bitterness is – the taste and the feeling.

Haroseth :

While not specifically mentioned in our Exodus 12 passage it is a mixture of chopped apples, cinnamon, walnuts or almonds, wine and possibly other dried fruit that represents the mortar the Jewish slaves used to make and assemble bricks for the buildings in the time of their slavery. While our modern kitchen tools make this an easy dish to make, at the time, it took the whole family pitching in to finely chop all the ingredients, which may have further reminded them of the work that was done during their period of slavery. You could easily involve your children in making this dish. It is sweet to remind us of the optimism that comes from the hope and belief that the Israelites had that God would save them and helps to take away the flavor of the bitter herb.  See a recipe here.

Lamb:

From Exodus 12, we know that there were several specific instructions concerning the lamb.  It was to be a year old male without defect (vs. 5), roast over fire (not raw or boiled) (vs. 8), none was to be left until morning (burn what is left) (vs. 10), and most importantly they were to put some of the blood on the sides and tops of the doorframes where the lambs were eaten (vs. 7).

For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” ~ Leviticus 17:11 

So as they put the blood on the door frame, the Lord gave them life because of the life that was taken from the lamb.  We know that Christ was without sin and thus without blemish or defect (Hebrews 4:15).  And his blood was shed at Calvary to save us from our bondage in slavery to sin.  His life was taken to give us the life we don’t deserve. Just imagine what it must have been like to be in that upper room.  If only Jesus’ disciples had realized that the whole time, everything that they were doing was pointing directly to Him.

Grace that is greater than all our sin.

See a recipe for roast lamb here.

Will you share the meaning of Passover and how it relates to Christ and our Christian faith with your children?  I hope you do.  As adopted sons and daughters, it is part of our heritage in God’s great and wonderful family. 

Shalom.

Resources:

http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/passover.html

http://www.jewsforjesus.org/programs/cip

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5272606142394767394# (40 minute video done by Jews for Jesus)

http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/holidays/passover/charosetrecipes

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Haroseth (Charoseth, Charoset) for Passover

Haroseth on matzah bread

This is but one recipe for Haroseth.  Most regions or families even have their own combinations of fruits, nuts and other flavorings to make this element of the Passover meal.  You can find several different recipes here.

To find out more about celebrating Passover in your Christian home, see this post.

Ingredients: 

3 mandarin oranges, segmented (or 1 can of segmented oranges, drained)
1/2 cup raisins (preferably white)
1/2 cup dried figs, diced (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced ginger
3 tablespoons orange juice
3/4 cup slivered almonds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons honey
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 cups  granny smith apples, diced

Method: 

Combine oranges, raisins, dried figs, ginger, orange juice, almonds, cinnamon and honey in a large bowl.

In a 12 inch non-stick skillet, melt the butter.  Add the brown sugar and allow to cook.  As it begins to caramelize, add the diced apples and toss to coat.  Add the apples to the rest of the ingredients and toss well to thoroughly mix.

Serve on Matzah crackers.

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