Cocoa Mint Roasted Lamb with Orange Roasted Asparagus
Lamb is my favorite Easter dish. It represents so much of spring and I adore serving it with Mint Sauce. I originally created this Cocoa Mint Rub when I found a small rack of Lamb in our freezer that we had managed to ignore for over a year. I knew they would need a strong rub in case the freezer had an effect on the flavor. While the main taste is Cocoa there is a bit of coffee in there to intensify the overall experience. We were all instantly hooked to the richness of the Cocoa with the lightness of the Mint against the tender lamb. This rub is now my favorite accompaniment to Lamb… and something about putting Chocolate and Mint on the main dish rather than in the Easter basket just charms me.
Of course, this Easter Lamb needs buddies and asparagus grabbed my attention- especially since it has been a long winter with out those sprigs of goodness. I prefer them roasted with an almost caramelized essence and orange seemed a great way to tie together the Cocoa, Mint and Lamb. And to officially bring them altogether I made an Orange Mint-Basil Sauce, which would be incredible drizzled on roasted vegetables, chicken or even as salad dressing.
Cocoa Mint Roasted Lamb
Cocoa Mint Rub
2 tbls raw sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
¼ cup mint, washed, dried, torn into pieces
1 clove garlic minced fine
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 tbls ground coffee
3-4 lb Lamb Shoulder or Leg, Boneless
Preheat oven to 450. Combine the Rub ingredients and pound with a mortar and pestle. Alternatively, it could be blended in a mini-food processor or blender.
Lay the lamb on a cutting board. If the butcher wrapped it in strings to hold it together, leave the strings on. Sprinkle and press the rub onto the lamb until it is well coated with the rub. Place a wire rack inside of a roasting pan. When I don’t have a wire rack handy I will place long sticks of celery along the bottom of a baking dish. This allows the meat to be slightly elevated and circulate the heat.
No need for a lid or any moisture. Roast the lamb for 20 minutes at 450.
Reduce heat to 325. Stick a thermometer into the center. When the thermometer reaches 135 the lamb will be rare after resting and when it reaches 145 it will be medium after resting.
Remove the lamb, cover with foil or a lid and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes. Cut off the strings if necessary. Slice the meat about ¼-1/2 inch thick.
Serve with the Orange Mint-Basil Sauce and Orange-Roasted Asparagus
Orange Roasted Asparagus
1 lb asparagus
1 tbls olive oil
½ tsp kosher or sea salt
1 small orange
Preheat the oven to 425. Gently break off the tough ends of the asparagus by bending it about 2-3 inches from the bottom until it snaps. Toss the asparagus with the olive oil and a pinch of the salt.
Slice the Orange into ¼ inch thick slices. Remove seeds if necessary. Toss onto the asparagus. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
Roast for 8-12 minutes until the asparagus is tender and slightly golden.
Orange Mint-Basil Sauce
Greatly influenced by http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Basil-Mint-and-Orange-Vinaigrette-12081
½ cup mint, washed and dried
½ cup basil, washed and dried
1 orange, zest and juice
2-4 tablespoons of orange juice (depending on the juice in the orange)
1 clove garlic
1 tsp orange vinegar or white-wine vinegar
1 pinch of salt and pepper
½ cup olive oil
Place everything except the oil in a blender and blend until smooth. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil until emulsified.