A Lamb Roast Feast

We know how to celebrate in Rappahannock County. Maybe it’s in the air we breathe. Or in the soil that feed us.


We were asked to spit roast a lamb for a large party.

We have a motorized spit that’s perfect for a whole pig roast or lamb roast (or mechoui), and since there are always some guests who don’t eat lamb, it’s a good idea to slow-smoke a few chicken, over cow-boy charcoal with some applewood. For that, we bring our smokers along.

And since this is the end of summer, often associated with harvest & abundance, what better than a few platters of grilled seasonal vegetables, mounds of bi-color green beans with roasted shallots, a huge couscous salad (couscous goes so well with lamb, don’t you think? – I like mine with a twist, though: I put dry cranberries for color, not tomatoes). Tomatoes, of course, we have plenty at this time of the year, and slow roasted (Roma type, please!), they become the base for a rustic looking tomato Tatin bursting with a very intense tomato flavor (for a large party like this, I make a rectangular Tatin, using a large rimmed cookie sheet, making it easier to cut & serve for a crowd). And the (almost) last peaches of the season find their way in a savory spicy dish. Peaches are here for a little longer than usual this year; they also started later than usual with the cool spring we had.

And because it is summer, it’s long week-end, and it’s a feast, guests stroll in. It’s part of the fun, and the conviviality. And the kitchen got to be flexible: you grill a few more veggies, you slice a few more tomatoes, you mix some more couscous.

But I do love those feasts outside. In this case, in a grassy area, between the farm house and the pasture where the sheep are grazing, with view of the Blue Ridge mountains and the sunset to the West.

It’s a whole production – part entertainment too!

First, there is the pit that is set-up the day before.

Then Keith gets a boy from the house to start the fire (under careful supervision, of course!). Yeah! Boys starting the fire using the weed dragon (looks like a miniature flame thrower)… I don’t care what age they are: whether 10, 25 or 50, they all get a huge silly grin on their face when handling that thing: works every time! (we also use it to weed really tough spots at home).

Prepping the lamb: stuffing it with handful of thyme and rosemary, hours before dinner time since it needs to roast slowly and evenly.


Lamb roasting on a spit, delicious smell wafting over the garden and the cocktail area. Keith – pitmaster & philosopher – dispelling the reservations a guest expressed about that lamb being in the meadow not so long ago: “that lamb had a good life and a purpose in life – which is more than what you can say of some people” (she ate the lamb)

Prepping & cooking for 2 days. Cleaning, of course, I don’t care as much for; who does?… but it comes with the territory and you just do it… but prepping & cooking is a lot of fun. You chop, you dice, you slice, you steam, you blanch, you roast, you broil, you grill, you mix, you blend, you toss… and it seems that it’s just this mound of ingredients. And finally, you have done enough, and the dishes take form. And they can go on the serving table.

We served buffet style, using an assortment of gorgeous and/or vintage platters – some of which I bring along. Added to the charm of this fun informal festive event! I am just the cook, but it’s fun to see an event from that prospective.


Full Moon. Gorgeous. Huge. Orange when rising. Is that the harvest moon?

Dance band playing lively bluegrass and dancing music.

Guests square dancing on the grass.

Lovely sunset. Perfect weather

Glasses tickling.

Friends, family, some traveling from Europe, others from out-of-state. All happy to be there. Around the tables. Actually 3 long tables.

It was an incredibly lovely party! I am grateful we were able to play a part in it.

The Menu:

Hors D’oeuvres

Tomato Tatin

Trout Mousse

Cheese Tray

Spirited Lavender Lemonade


Multicolor Heirloom Tomato Platter With Basil

Mechoui Of Farm-Fresh Lamb

Applewood-Smoked Pastured Chicken

Grilled Peach Salsa

Mixed Summer Vegetable Grill
With Herbed Olive Oil Emulsion

Green Beans With Roasted Shallots, Pecan Nuts &
Grainy Mustard Dressing

Chickpeas With Parsley, Lemon & Toasted Cumin

Cranberry & Cucumber Couscous

Surprise Cake (with raspberry filling) by Mary Arthur &

Raspberry Gelato

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