For a special Easter meal, serve lamb in a crust
Published in Entertaining
(Editor's Note: This story was originally published April 13, 2022.)
Beef Wellington is the sort of dish I like to serve for Christmas. For lack of a better word, it’s fancy.
It’s a beef tenderloin covered by a thin layer of sauteed mushrooms and shallots wrapped up and baked in a puff-pastry crust. The golden crust hides the succulent beef that is only revealed when you cut into it; it is a delightful culinary surprise that also pairs the buttery pastry with the rich and juicy meat.
So when I thought about what to serve for Easter, I had the idea of making essentially a lamb Wellington.
Lamb is closely associated with Easter for both religious and seasonal reasons. Baking it inside a puff-pastry crust makes it fancy.
Like beef Wellington, lamb in crust (the French call it agneau en croûte) is easier to make than your guests will assume. Or it should be. Maybe it is in France.
Traditionally, it is made with what is called the saddle of lamb, which is to say the loin. It is a lean and tender piece of meat that cooks relatively quickly. In other words, it is a perfect cut of meat to cook inside puff pastry.
But if there is a saddle of lamb to be found in St. Louis, I couldn’t find it. So I went with a cut that is more plentiful and also cheaper: boneless leg of lamb.
The leg, though, comes with a set of problems that are not found in the loin. It’s lumpy, which makes it challenging to cook it all to the same temperature at the same time. And it is denser than a loin, so it takes longer to cook. The longer it cooks, the more likely the puff pastry is to burn.
But if you take care, and you don’t mind a crust that is more rustic than elegant, you will be rewarded with a grand dish that will be warmly received at Easter or any dinner party or occasion.