Roast lamb is, without a doubt, one of our very favorite dishes. In the spring we serve it with young vegetables: carrots, English peas, parsnips and fennel, but we've recently started serving it with Greek-inspired ingredients: olives, lemon, garlic and oregano. And it is heavenly. There is nothing quite light the vibrant perfume and flavor fresh oregano which, like its cousins marjoram and mint, marries well with lamb.
Greek oregano, unlike Mexican oregano, is a member of the mint family. Its flavor is decidedly different, milder and more floral. It's also rich in phenolic compounds and flavonoids which may account for its potent antimicrobial and antioxidant activity. Moreover, preliminary research indicates that oregano may have an anti-proliferative effect on human breast cancer cell. It's the potent essential oils of oregano that offer the most strongly medicinal effects. Indeed, oregano essential oil can be a potent tool in the control of food-borne pathogens like listeria and salmonella. You can learn more about the medicinal properties of common culinary plants here.
Roast Lamb with Olives
- 2 ½ pounds boneless lamb roast
- 1 head garlic (peeled with cloves left whole, divided)
- 1 cup sun-dried black olives
- 1 preserved lemon (quartered)
- 1 bunch fresh oregano (preferably Greek, divided)
- 1 cup red wine
- Preheat the oven to 275-degrees Fahrenheit.
- Truss and tie the lamb roast with 100% cotton cooking twine to ensure even cooking an attractive appearance.
- Pierce the lamb roast, inserting about half the garlic cloves into the roast. Reserve the remaining cloves for the skillet.
- Heat about two tablespoons clarified butter in a cast iron skillet over a medium-high flame until it melts.
- Add the trussed and tied lamb roast to the hot fat, searing on each side for about 1 minute or so.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the sun-dried olives, quartered preserved lemon, remaining garlic cloves and about half the fresh oregano to the skillet. Allow this mixture to cook with the lamb, stirring as needed, for about two minutes.
- Pour about 1 cup of red or white wine or chicken stock, to the skillet. Remove from the heat and place the skillet in an oven preheated to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Roast for about two to three hours, depending on the roast’s size.
- Serve in the skillet, sprinkled with remaining fresh oregano.