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Lamb for Easter and Passover

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By Dan Clarke

It’s the opinion of Taste California Travel and its sister publication, Taste Washington Travel, that lamb is appropriate fare any time of the year.

However, spring lamb is an undeniable tradition and we think it’s an appropriate time to bring you a couple of recipes. These we gleaned from the website of the American Lamb Board. The first of these is as close to a classic spring lamb dish as you’ll find anywhere. The second recipe isn’t one we’ve tried, but it certainly sounds like an adventurous take on lamb and one that would work as given below or that could be adapted to cooking on your outdoor grill.

The American Lamb Board recommends Kendall-Jackson Merlot as a good pairing with the leg of lamb recipe. We can’t quarrel with that suggestion, but think any Merlot you favor would likely please you and your Easter or Passover guests when served with leg of lamb.

Now pairing the Ancho Chile Crusted Lamb Chops with Jalapeno Bourbon Sauce requires a bit more thought. We’d say this is a great opportunity for beer fans to show their beverage of choice can be a real addition to a special meal. How about something in the vein of an amber ale or pale ale? We haven’t tested a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale with this dish, but we bet it would be stellar. If you want to serve a wine, we suggest you try either a Zinfandel that has some peppery qualities or explore the smokey possibilities of a Syrah. Both these varieties can be overwhelming in their big, sweet and syrupy versions. In either case, look for a wine a bit lower in alcohol, which will likely be more food-friendly.


Roasted Leg of American Lamb





1 boneless leg of lamb, approximately 6 pounds



4 garlic cloves, smashed

2 lemons, zested

1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons dried oregano

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

1 bunch parsley, chopped

1 cup olive oil

1/4 cup kosher salt



In small bowl, combine all ingredients.

Rub mixture on leg of lamb. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate overnight.

Bring lamb to room temperature and sprinkle with salt.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Roast for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into center of leg reads 125°F to 130°F.

Cover loosely with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 20 minutes.



Southwest Ancho Chile Crusted Lamb Chops with Jalapeno Bourbon Sauce

Recipe provided by | Shared Appetite

 Ancho chile lamb chops 3 Picmonkey




8 American lamb rib chops, about ¾” thick each

2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil


Southwest Ancho Chile Rub

2 tablespoons ancho chile powder

1 tablespoon brown sugar

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon cumin

Kosher salt, to taste


Jalapeno-Bourbon Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ medium red onion, finely chopped

Kosher salt

3 jalapenos with seeds, finely chopped*

1 cup bourbon

2 cups chicken stock

½ cup brown sugar

¼ cup apple cider vinegar


Ancho Sweet Potato Puree

2 large sweet potatoes, roasted

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

½ tablespoon ancho chile powder

Kosher salt





Preheat oven to 400°F. Sprinkle and pat Southwest Ancho Chile rub on all sides of lamb chops.

Heat oil in a large cast iron or other heavy-bottom skillet over medium-high heat. Sear lamb chops, in batches if necessary, for 2 minutes per side. Remove to an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet and roast in oven for approximately 5 minutes, or until lamb reaches 130°F for medium-rare. Let roast a bit longer depending upon your preference. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Serve lamb chops with Jalapeno-Bourbon Sauce and Ancho Sweet Potato Puree.


Jalapeno-Bourbon Sauce

Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion, season generously with Kosher salt, and cook 2 minutes. Add jalapeno and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add bourbon, stir to remove any stuck on bits to the bottom of the pan, and simmer for about 5 minutes, until most of the bourbon has evaporated and a glaze-like consistency remains.

Stir in stock, brown sugar, and vinegar. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a rapid simmer and let reduce to a thick sauce consistency, about 15-20 minutes. Season with Kosher salt. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, discarding solids. Can be made in advance, refrigerated, and reheated.


Ancho Sweet Potato Puree

Combine roasted sweet potato flesh, heavy cream, butter, and ancho chile powder in a medium bowl. Puree with an immersion blender until very smooth. Alternatively, combine all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Season with Kosher salt.

*for a milder sauce, remove seeds

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