Roasted Lamb: Vancouver Edition

I am really fortunate that my family owns a condo up in Vancouver, B.C. A three hour drive from Seattle (including border crossing wait), Vancouver has become a much depended upon weekend escape for me. I know that sounds silly– escaping from one cloudy, rainy city to another one further north, but there’s just something about the feel of the city that is different enough to make me feel like I’ve changed continents temporarily, and no, I don’t just mean the fact that their coffee shops serve Candadianos instead of Americanos.

I also get a kick out of how this one city embodies different routines for different members of my family. When my parents come here it’s all about getting as close to a Hong Kong experience as possible as they search out and go to the latest “best” Chinese restaurant recommended to them. When my brother and his family stay there each July, it’s a true long vacation experience with bike rides, trips to the beaches, and finding really cool take out options. And when John and I go there, we are guaranteed to spend one afternoon at the Granville Island Public Market stuffing our faces then troving out what looks fresh to take back to the condo to cook dinner.

These routines clash when more than one of these factions are in the condo at the same time. For instance, when my parents and an uncle wanted to go up to Vancouver with John and me one weekend, they scoffed at my suggestion that we try out John’s and my market routine. My father even said, “Nobody can cook at the condo!” despite the fact that we have a kitchen stocked with some modest cooking supplies. So I offer up this and the following post as proof that yes, you can cook at the condo!

This meal was made during John’s and my most recent Vancouver visit. At the market that day, I saw several stands offering lamb roasts, including this nice little 2 pounder that looked like it could serve two instead of the usual roast for 10. The vegetable stand was teeming with late summer, early fall harvest finds including the fennel, fingerling potatoes and fresh figs that we ended up purchasing. I wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted to do and didn’t decide until the very last minute that I wanted to keep the figs separated from the lamb in a separate salad (post to follow later this week.) Given the limited cooking utensils and other paraphernalia in the condo kitchen, I decided to just roast the lamb with garlic and rosemary on a bed of the fennel and fingerling potatoes– a simple one pan meal.

Things got more complicated since the condo lacks a meat thermometer, so after looking up some lamb roast recipes online for ideas as to temperature, I guessed at how long I would have to cook this significantly smaller roast than the ones in the recipes I found. We ended up with tender slices of still rare lamb, served on a bed of sweet, roasted fennel and potatoes spiked with woodsy rosemary. All of this was perfectly accompanied with the sparkling rose we found at a nearby wine store. As you can see from above, the view ain’t a half bad dinner accompaniment either!

  • 1 2.5 lb boneless lamb leg roast
  • 1.5 lb fingerling potatoes
  • 1 large fennel bulb, halved then sliced lengthwise
  • 4 cloves garlic, 3 sliced thinly and 1 minced
  • 3 long sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rub olive oil all over your roast and season with salt, pepper, and about 2/3 of your rosemary. Cut little slits, about 1/8 of an inch deep, here and there all over the lamb and wedge a slice of garlic in each cut. Set aside

Toss the potatoes and fennel with about 1 tbsp of olive oil, salt, pepper, the minced garlic, and the rest of your rosemary. Spread these out over the bottom of a roasting pan and set the lamb on top of that. Cook for about 45 minutes or until your meat thermometer reaches 145 degrees F. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing the roast and serving slices on top of the mix of potatoes and fennel.

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