Roasted Lamb Roulade with Spinach and Matzo Farfel Stuffing

Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser Yield:  10 servings
Prep Time:  40 minutes Resting Time:  5 minutes Cook Time:  1 hour 5 minutes

Roasted Lamb Roulade with Spinach and Matzo Farfel Stuffing

This dish is truly worthy of your time and effort. It is a marvelous and memorable centerpiece at a seder and feeds a crowd. It’s delicious with avgolemono sauce, but if you prefer, the plain pan juices are luscious on their own.

Ingredients

1½ cups matzo farfel

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

3 large or 5 small shallots, peeled and cut into ¼-inch pieces (about 1¼ cups)

6 large cloves garlic, peeled and grated, any green centers discarded (about 2 tablespoons)

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves   

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves (3 to 4 sprigs)  

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves (about 3 sprigs, see Kitchen Tips)  

¼ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves (about 1 medium bunch)

6 dried bay leaves, finely ground

1 tablespoon kosher salt, divided

1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper, divided

1 pound fresh baby spinach (about 1 cup if using frozen, defrosted)

¼ cup good-quality mayonnaise

1 (4- to 4¼ pound) boneless lamb shoulder

16 ounces (2 cups) Brown Veal Stock or low-sodium beef or lamb stock

Avgolemono Sauce, for serving, optional 

Instructions

  1. Toast the farfel: Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread the farfel out on a small rimmed baking sheet, evening it out as much as possible. Bake for 2 to 3 minutes; remove the pan from the oven, stir well and bake for another 1 to 2 minutes, until light to medium brown in color. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  2. In a heavy or enamel-coated cast-iron pan that is large enough to hold the lamb comfortably (about 16 to 17 inches wide), heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over high heat until it shimmers. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, for 3 to 5 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the garlic, mint, rosemary, thyme, parsley bay leaves, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 1 teaspoon of the pepper, and cook for 15 to 20 seconds, stirring gently. Add half the spinach, stir, cover, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the spinach begins to wilt. Uncover, stir well, add the remaining spinach and cook, uncovered, for another 3 to 4 minutes,until the spinach has completely wilted. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside, reserving the pan and its contents. Allow to cool to room temperature. (The spinach mixture can be made through this step up to two days in advance and stored in a covered container in the refrigerator; if you opt for this, however, don’t reserve your pan!)
  3. When the spinach mixture has cooled and you are ready to cook, add the mayonnaise and the toasted farfel and stir well. Cover the stuffing with plastic wrap and set aside.
  4. Prepare the lamb: Cut 6 (12-inch) lengths of kitchen twine and set aside. Place the lamb on a work surface and unroll. Gently score the inside with a very sharp knife, making slits about 1/16-  to ⅛-inch deep, but do not cut the meat all the way through. Season on both sides with the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper.
  5. Spread the cooled stuffing along one edge of the lamb, lengthwise. Roll up the lamb, folding the meat up and over the stuffing, jelly roll style, and tie it, crosswise, with the pieces of twine, spacing them at even intervals to hold the stuffed lamb in a tube shape.
  6. Return the reserved pan to the stove over high heat (use a clean one if you made the stuffing as a do-ahead!). Add the remaining 2  tablespoons oil, and heat until it shimmers. Place the lamb in it and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes  on each of four sides, allow for each side to sear, until browned on all sides and  deeply browned in color. Turn the lamb roll seam side down and carefully add the stock to the pan. Transfer to the oven and roast. For rare, roast for 25 to 28 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the meat (not the stuffing) reads 128°F to 130°F. For medium-rare, roast for 30 minutes, or until the thermometer reads 130°F. (While the meat is roasting, wash your cutting board and any other utensil that touched the raw meat; see Kitchen Tips.)
  7. When the lamb is done, remove from the oven, transfer to a clean work surface or cutting board, reserving the roasting pan and its contents. Tent the lamb lightly with foil and let it rest for 4 to 5 minutes (see Kitchen Tips). The temperature will increase to 135° to 137°F for medium-rare or 133°F to 135°F for rare.
  8. With oven mitts, carefully place the reserved roasting pan back on the stove over medium heat. Add the stock and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. If you are serving with Avgolemono Sauce, set aside this mixture to use in the sauce and stir well. Or transfer the mixture to a gravy boat and keep warm.
  9. Remove the twine from the lamb. Using a sharp carving knife, cut lamb crosswise into about 10 (1¼- to 1¾-inch) slices. Spoon the pan juices or the Avgolemono Sauce over lamb and serve immediately.

Kitchen Tips

  1. To remove the leaves from a sprig of fresh thyme, hold the sprig (or a few) at the top with one hand, and with the other hand, grasp the stem with your thumb and forefinger and gently slide your fingers down the stem. The leaves will be pushed against the direction they grow in, and will come off easily.
  2. Always use a fresh plate for fully cooked meat, poultry, or fish. NEVER place it back on the plate or board that held it when it was raw, as the original plate holds uncooked juices that might carry foodborne bacteria. These microorganisms are killed during cooking, but placing the cooked food back into the uncooked juices can contaminate it and cause foodborne illness.
  3. Letting the meat rest after cooking allows it to stay juicy. The juices need time to settle down—cooking is a pretty frenetic process for a protein; it makes all those molecules bounce around—and you want the juices to stay inside the meat. Cut too soon and you’ll see juices running out all over your board or plate. It’s a pro trick to keep all meats moist and easy to do at home.

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