Rubbed first with wild bitter herbs, tender young lamb was roasted, often over fragrant pomegranate wood, to mark each Passover in the Second Temple period. The Jewish historian Josephus estimated that 255,600 animals were sacrificed for the Passover celebratory feasts during the reign of Nero.
With the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, the custom lost favor as it evoked sorrowful memories of the Temple sacrifices that were no more. Eventually, Ashkenazi Orthodox and many Conservative Jews began to refrain from eating any roasted meat at the seder meals.
I have retained the ancient herb perfume in this braised lamb dish. Garlic, lemon, and arti-choke build up more layers of flavor and texture—my attempt to compensate for the missing taste of roast pomegranate woodsmoke.
Trim the lamb of as much fat as possible—very tedious, but careful trimming usually eliminates the need to skim the fat from the pan later on. Cut the lamb into
Do the initial browning in a large heavy skillet (
If there is any rendered fat remaining in the pan, wipe it out. Add
Transfer the mixture and any scrapings from the bottom of the pan to a
Add the artichokes, and cook, covered, until they are very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. I like to continue cooking until a few of the artichoke pieces break up and melt into the sauce, but follow your preference. If there is a lot of liquid left in the pot, uncover and turn the heat up to high, evaporating enough so that the pan liquid is thick and syrupy. Stir in the mint, minced garlic, remaining
© 2008 Jayne Cohen. All rights reserved.