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Leg of Lamb with Rosemary and Fennel

Lamb in Italy represents spring and renewal, so it's traditionally served at Easter. This is a relatively inexpensive way to make lamb for a large group.

6 to 8 servings

2 tablespoons fennel seeds

6 tablespoons (3⁄4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

3 garlic cloves, minced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 (6-pound) bone-in leg of lamb, trimmed of excess fat

1 3⁄4 cups low-sodium beef broth

1 1⁄2 cups dry red wine

Using a mallet or heavy rolling pin, crush the fennel seeds in a resealable plastic bag. Transfer the crushed fennel seeds to a small bowl. Add the butter, rosemary, and garlic, and stir to blend. Season the butter with salt and pepper.

Position the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the lamb in a large roasting pan. Pat the lamb dry with paper towels and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Rub half of the butter mixture all over the lamb. Refrigerate the remaining butter mixture. Roast the lamb until it is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Decrease the heat to 350 degrees and continue roasting the lamb until an instant-read meat thermometer registers 135 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of the meat but not touching the bone, about 45 minutes longer. Transfer the lamb to a platter and tent with foil to keep it warm.

Skim as much fat as possible from the pan juices, then pour the broth and wine into the hot roasting pan. Place the pan over medium-high heat and stir to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Simmer until the juices reduce by half, about 12 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Gradually whisk in the remaining cold butter mixture. Season the juices to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer the juices to a sauceboat. Using a large sharp carving knife, carve the meat into thin slices and arrange on plates. Spoon some of the juices over the meat and serve.

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