Påske Lamb with Orange & Dill Sauce

Prepare a perfect leg of lamb for your Easter table

Photos: Nevada Berg
Serving lamb for påske is not an old tradition in Norway, but today, it is a popular tradition. Nevada Berg’s recipe brings a Nordic twist to this new Easter classic with its herb and citrus sauce, inspired by the copious amounts of oranges found everywhere at this time of the year.

Nevada Berg
North Wild Kitchen

Visiting friends usually means finding yourself sharing cake and coffee among a centerpiece of overflowing, grapefruit-sized oranges gleaning from a warmer Spanish climate. It is a tradition owing itself to a time when merchants would return to Norway in the spring with the year’s first harvest from Southern Europe. It’s a recently new tradition, very much like most of the traditions practiced today. From yellow adornments to colorful eggs to chocolate and the Sunday meal. Most borrowed, all evolved. History, combining a variety of faiths and practices, to today’s more global and commercial influences have all contributed to the celebrations surrounding Easter, whether practiced religiously or not.

Serving lamb is not an old tradition. For the long, dark Norwegian winters delay the gestation period for sheep, meaning lambs are not large enough to be ready by Easter. The lamb is either imported or from last year’s yield. Nonetheless, lamb is important to the table today. Often served on the bone, it is roasted with simple herbs and seasonings.

It’s a dish I am more than happy to indulge myself in… before, during, and after påske. One year when we were traveling for the holidays, we decided to enjoy an early lamb meal in our home, with garlicky and creamy potato gratin and sautéed fennel on the side. Keeping to the simple and rustic, I accompanied our lamb with an herb and citrus sauce, inspired by the copious amounts of oranges found everywhere. You want to make the most out of them, because oranges, like a timely, reoccurring guest just passing through, will not be outstaying their welcome.

PÅSKE LAMB with Orange & Dill Sauce

Nevada Berg, North Wild Kitchen

8–10 servings

INGREDIENTS

Lamb 

  • Leg of lamb, bone on (about 4–5 lbs.)
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, crushed with back of knife, skins left on
  • Sprigs of rosemary
  • Salt & pepper
  • Olive oil

Dill & Orange Sauce 

  • ¼ cup fresh dill, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 4 tbsps. freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tbsps. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Allow the lamb to sit at room temperature for about an hour before roasting.
  2. Preheat the oven to 300º. Place the lamb in a roasting tin and pat the lamb dry. Make shallow incisions over it with a sharp knife. Place the garlic cloves and small sprigs of rosemary in the incisions. Drizzle oil over the lamb and liberally season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place in the oven and cook until the internal temperature reaches 150-160º for rare to medium or up to 170º for well done, about 2-3 hours. Take it out of the oven and let the meat rest 15 minutes before carving (the internal temperature will increase slightly while resting, so take this into account for how well you wish to cook the meat).
  4. To prepare the dill and orange sauce, mix the orange and lemon juice with the garlic and salt in a small serving bowl. Add in the chopped herbs and orange zest. Slowly pour in the oil and gently stir with a fork. Let the sauce sit a bit so the flavors can incorporate before serving with the lamb.

This article and recipe first appeared at northwildkitchen.com and was reprinted with permission.

Source: Norwegian Folk Museum

This article originally appeared in the March 2024 issue of The Norwegian American.

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Nevada Berg

Nevada Berg, based in Numedal, Norway, is the author of the award-winning cookbook North Wild Kitchen: Home Cooking from the Heart of Norway, and she publishes recipes on her blog of the same name. Learn more at northwildkitchen.com.