While in the middle of a workout session, doing forward lunges with 10 pound weights (not an easy task), my fellow workout classmate, Marie, asked me “Do you like lamb?”
“Yes, I love lamb,” I responded gasping for air in between lunges.
She then went on to tell me about Icelandic lamb, which is available at Whole Foods market from September through December. Icelandic lamb is free of antibiotics and hormones, and is raised in the natural and sustainable mountains of Iceland. The meat is extremely tender and has a mild gamey or “lamb” flavor compared to other types of lamb.
Turns out Marie had an amazing recipe to go along with the Icelandic lamb. This recipe is super simple and easy to prepare! You basically throw everything in a roasting pan and put in the oven. What I love most about this recipe is the sauce. The white wine reduces with all the other flavors from the vegetables and lamb to create the most delicious sauce. Most lamb recipes call for red wine reduction sauces that are heavy and thick, but this white wine reduction sauce with the artichokes and fennel is light and flavorful.
The original recipe called for fresh artichokes, but Marie mentioned that to save time she uses the artichoke hearts in oil. I tried both and I think my version of the recipe needs to include both fresh and in oil – both are great in this recipe! I love the flavor of the artichokes in oil and the fresh artichokes are visually appealing.
For the Lamb
- 4 pieces lamb shoulder (Use Icelandic lamb if you can find it, New Zealand lamb is good too)
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 4 fresh rosemary sprigs, finely chopped
- 4 gloves garlic, finely chopped
- 4 baby artichokes
- 6 artichoke hearts in oil (I used the ones from the Whole Foods olive bar, or canned will work too)
- 2 fennel bulbs, cut into slices
- 12 small potatoes, cut into quarters, you can use red bliss or yukon gold
- 5 whole garlic gloves
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 4 bay leaves
- Olive oil
- Kosher Salt
- 1 whole bottle dry white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
- Pre-heat the oven to 425°F. Drizzle the lamb with olive oil and sprinkle with salt on both sides. Be generous with the salt. Mix the chopped rosemary and chopped garlic in a small bowl. Spread the herb mixture evenly over each lamb shoulder on all sides. Set aside.
- For the artichokes, start by cutting about 1 inch off of the top (the prickly points) and also cut off the stem. Next, remove the tough outer leaves and stop when you get to the lighter green color. Cut each artichoke in half. If you are not going to start roasting right away, place the trimmed artichokes in bowl with water and lemon juice to avoid oxidization (turing brown).
- In a large roasting pan, add the baby artichokes, artichoke hearts, fennel slices, potatoes, garlic gloves, crushed red pepper, thyme, and bay leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Using your hands or a spoon, toss the veggies to coat them in the olive oil. Place the lamb shoulders on top of the veggies and nestle them into place. Pour the WHOLE bottle of wine into the pan. Roast for 20 minutes, baste the lamb with the juices and flip over and roast another 20 minutes. Baste with the juices again and turn heat down to 350°F and roast for 1 hour, basting lamb occasionally. Add water to the pan if the liquid reduces too much. Remove the lamb from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes.