Monday, June 20, 2011

On the Lamb

I have a tendency to get carried away. At the first or second farmer's market of the year, I splurged on a leg of lamb. I'm embarassed to say how much it cost. Twenty dollars--just under $20. The farmer swiped my card (very savvy, but a good idea if you're charging that much for meat), I walked away and later thought that spending twenty bones on a raw product was a tad irresponsible for a student. (I paid for it financial aid, and will furthermore justify the purchase by claiming the expense under "studying.") The leg of lamb sat in my freezer for weeks until the perfect moment last week when it wasn't too hot (just enough) and most my friends could come.

I fitted the leg, which took a couple days to dethaw in my fridge, with a Moroccan spice rub under the directions of Molly Stevens who wrote All About Braising, a book that's been on my Amazon wish list for at least a year. I roasted the spices and then sent them through a peppermill twist by aching twist of the wrist. I marinated the leg overnight then cooked the braise with a slew of Mediterranean vegetables, which all got too soggy in the Dutch oven but were still tasty if a bit mushy. Alongside, I made a slaw of sliced carrots and radishes, lighter to complement the heavy hand of the lamb.

Making dinner for friends will probably continue to be one of my favorite things no matter who I'm friends with or where I live. Well worth $20 for a leg of lamb and change for vegetables, although we would have the same happiness with vegetarian pasta so long as there's wine.

Moroccan Spice-rubbed Lamb: From All About Braising by Molly Stevens
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon allspice berries
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
pinch turmeric
pinch cayenne

leg of lamb, bone-in
1 onion, sliced
1 bulb fennel, sliced
pinch saffron
1 eggplant, cubed
1 tomato, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 cup chicken/vegetables/beef stock

Heat the fennel seeds, coriander seeds, peppercorns, allspice berries in a saute pan without oil until they are aromatic. Grind with a pestel and mortar. Add the rest of the spices and rub on the exterior of the lamb. Let lamb marinate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Meanwhile, heat some oil in a cast-iron Dutch oven. Sear the outside of the lamb, remove from heat. Saute the onion. Stir in the saffron threads and some salt. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and stir in the rest of the vegetables and bake another hour and a half until the meat is fork tender. Remove from oven and remove the lamb, setting it aside covered with foil. Meanwhile, bring the vegetables to a boil to reduce the volume of the liquid. Pour over bulgur wheat or quinoa and serve with lamb.

Carrot-Radish Relish: taught to me by a fellow student
3 carrots, peeled and sliced  into rounds
10 radishes, sliced
1/2 cup white-wine vinegar
1/2 cup apple-cider vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon peppercorns
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon sugar
salt to taste

Slice the carrot and radishes. Meanwhile, heat the vinegar, oil and seasonings until just barely simmering. Remove from heat and pour over vegetables. Let marinate for at least an hour in the fridge. Strain excess liquid and serve.


Jess said...

yum! I spent a little money on some local lamb, too. it was just stew meat, but I cooked it for a long time as instructed, and it turned out so flavorful! your meal looks fantastic.

lindsey baker said...

girl. i am going to make that salad. mmm.