30-HOUR LEG OF LAMB WITH MASHED SWEET POTATOES

Let me just say upfront, the pictures do not do justice to how tasty this meal turned out. Ideally, this would be prepared using lamb shoulder, but it is very hard to find. So I used the upper part of the leg, boneless, tied with a net to keep its overall shape. You have two options for leg of lamb: cooking it rare to medium-rare (more traditional), or cooking a lot longer, so that the meat pretty much falls off the bone (when there’s a bone).  I wanted to make it sous-vide, but while doing some research, found a wide range of temperature and cooking time listed in cookbooks and websites.  After hyperventilating about it for a while, I settled on 30 hours at 160 F. I am thrilled to report that it was a successful experiment. If you don’t have a sous-vide gadget, please see my comments after the recipe.

30-HOUR LEG OF LAMB WITH MASHED SWEET POTATOES
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 boneless leg of lamb, butterflied and tied (2.5 to 3.0 pounds)
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
4 tablespoons mustard powder
2 tsp ground black pepper
5 sweet potatoes, peeled, cut in large chunks
1 + 3/4 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (I used Aleppo pepper)
1/2 tsp Southwest Seasoning mix (I used Penzey’s)
3/4 cup light coconut milk
fresh parsley, minced (to taste)

Set your sous-vide to 160 F.  Mix the salt, pepper and mustard together in a small bowl. Pat the meat dry and season all over with the spice mixture. Place inside a bag and vacuum-seal it.  Place in the water-bath and cook for 30 hours. Cover the container with aluminum foil and check for water evaporation over that period of time.  When 30 hours passed, remove the meat from the bag, and run under a broiler to get a nice brown roasted appearance to it.  Serve immediately, the meat should be falling apart when you probe it with a fork.

For the mashed potatoes. Place the potatoes, water and seasonings in a crock pot. Cook on low for 4 to 5 hours. Warm the coconut milk in a microwave (do not boil), add to the potatoes in the crock pot, and mash with a potato masher to the consistency you prefer. Add minced parsley, adjust seasoning, and serve with the lamb.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Some questions you might have: do I need a sous-vide for this? Well, you do if you want to come up with this exact result, but you can always follow this method to obtain a similar type of lamb, quite different from the way it is normally enjoyed. It is known as “Lamb you can eat with a spoon” and pretty much describes the meal we had. Another question could be, can I make it in  24 hours instead of 30? I’d say you probably could, but the meat would not be as tender. Sous-vide offers a real wide flexibility in terms of timing, but I would definitely go more towards 30 rather than 24 for this preparation. There are discussions on how much liquid the meat loses as you increase the temperature and the timing, so higher temperatures can be problematic for some cuts of meat. I heard of a fantastic recipe for lamb shoulder from a restaurant that cooks it at 170F for 36 hours, but keep in mind that lamb shoulder is a bit different in terms of texture. All things considered, I think the way we made it turned out pretty good. I would like to come up with a sauce to serve with it, but was unsure about using the liquid accumulated in the bag as a starting point. Will re-visit this issue soon.

The sweet potatoes were quite delicious, and paired well with the lamb. We also had green beans and almonds as another side dish, forming a fun and colorful dinner plate. Leftovers can be shredded and come back as part of a lamb ragu, coupled with a hearty tomato sauce, or part of a curry with some garbanzo beans added to the party.

If you prefer a more traditional leg of lamb, you can use 135 to 140F for 24 hours for a bone-in piece. That will give you tender meat, pink all the way through, perfect to cut in slices. I like to keep seasoning simple, but you can of course use all kinds of dry rubs or marinades before placing it in the bag.

Sous-vide is a perfect gadget for entertaining. Since timing is so flexible and after sous-vide all you need is a last-minute browning or searing, it works wonders when you have guests for dinner.

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GRILLED LAMB-STUFFED PITA BREAD

Amazing recipe. Ground lamb and grill take your mind to hamburger or koftas, right? But by enclosing it all inside a pita bread, you’ll have something totally different and incredibly tasty.  I first saw the recipe on a TV show by America’s Test Kitchen, then noticed variations of it in several Middle Eastern cookbooks. If you enjoy the flavor of lamb, give it a try. It’s a real keeper.

GRILLED GROUND LAMB PITAS
(adapted from The Splendid Table)

2 pounds ground lamb
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest plus 3 tablespoons juice
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 (8-inch) pita breads

Mince cilantro very well. Transfer to large bowl. Stir in oil, lemon zest and juice, coriander, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, cayenne, and cinnamon. Add lamb and knead gently with your hands until thoroughly combined.

Using kitchen shears, cut around perimeter of each pita and separate into 2 halves. Place 4 thicker halves on counter with interiors facing up. Divide lamb mixture into 4 equal portions and place 1 portion in center of each pita half. Using spatula, gently spread lamb mixture into even layer, leaving 1/2-inch border around edge. Top each with thinner pita half. Press each sandwich firmly until lamb mixture spreads to ¼ inch from edge of pita. Transfer sandwiches to large plate, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.

Place sandwiches on hot grill, cover, and cook until bottoms are evenly browned and edges are starting to crisp, 7 to 10 minutes, moving sandwiches as needed to ensure even cooking. Flip sandwiches, cover grill, and continue to cook until second sides are evenly browned and edges are crisp, 7 to 10 minutes longer. Transfer sandwiches to cutting board and cut each in half crosswise. Serve immediately.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you look at the original recipe, you’ll see that I considerably reduced the amount of spices (and also the amount of olive oil, as lamb has enough fat). I tend to do that very often. In my opinion many recipes use too heavy a hand with spices, so that the flavor of the food itself becomes secondary. In this particular preparation, I prefer to let the taste of the meat shine a bit more. Do as you must to suit your taste. We loved these pitas, they were a complete meal with just the right amount of carbs to satisfy, and the lamb nicely seasoned.

You can adapt this method to ground turkey, ground beef, or even go vegetarian and make some type of garbanzo bean, mushroom concoction inside. That would be wonderful too, I am sure.

I made a pin for you…

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SLOW-COOKER BRAISED LAMB SHANKS

This recipe goes to the OMG FILES.

I realize with the heat wave hitting most places in the US of A this may not be too appealing, but keep in mind that my dear friends and family in São Paulo are freezing. My friends in Australia probably shivering a little, so folks, this one is for you. By the way, did you know that no homes have central heating in São Paulo? That means when the temperature is 40 F outside, it is about 40 F inside too.  I remember – not too fondly – the ordeal it was to wake up during winter and cover the distance between bed ant bathroom for the morning shower. The reverse happens in the summer, very few homes have air-conditioning and well, you know how hot a tropical country can get.  But, back to food. This is a fantastic recipe. The crock pot works perfectly for this type of meat. Best if made a few days in advance, so that all those sauce flavors intensify in the fridge. Lamb shanks are Phil’s favorite, he always orders them in restaurants, if available. He was a super happy camper that evening… Even more so because I managed to surprise him. Prepared the braise during the weekend and awed him a couple of days later.  What’s for dinner tonight? Oh, nothing special, just some braised lamb shanks… (not sure why I never got a call from Hollywood).

lamb

 

SLOW-COOKER BRAISED LAMB SHANKS
(adapted from Williams-Sonoma)

1 shallot, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
6 carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup water
2 cup peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes (I used canned)
2 Tbs. tomato paste
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 lamb shanks, external fat trimmed
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 cup red wine

Put the shallot, celery, carrots,, water, tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme and bay leaf in a slow cooker and stir to combine.

Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until nearly smoking. Add the shanks and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Transfer to the slow cooker.

Remove the sauté pan from the heat, pour in the wine and return to medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the pan bottom. Add the wine to the slow cooker, cover and cook on high for 6 hours. Transfer the lamb shanks to a large serving dish.

Remove the bay leaf from the cooking liquid. If you’d like to de-fat the sauce, transfer the crock pot to the refrigerator, or save the shanks and the sauce in separate containers in the fridge.  Next day remove the fat congealed on the surface.  If you like a very smooth sauce, puree the liquids until smooth, add to the meat, then re-heat the whole thing together.  Alternatively, you can keep the sauce and veggies as they are in the final braising and serve with the shanks.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

meat and sauce

Every once in a while our grocery store will carry cute packages of New Zealand lamb shanks, and sometimes they even put them on sale for a lot less than the “arm and a leg” price tag they normally go for. Fully aware of Phil’s endless love for lamb shanks, I keep an eye for those sales. June started with a few days of cool weather, perfect for this type of meal.

Slow Cooker Lamb Shanks

 

The meat was literally falling off the bone…  I kept the carrots and celery in pieces instead of pureeing the sauce, do whatever you prefer. Served with mashed cauliflower and sweet peas, this was good enough to make me long for winter. Ha! Did I fool you? Probably not. By now  you should know that long for and winter are never in the same sentence for me.

pinterestlambGo ahead and pin me!
😉

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BRAISED LAMB SHANKS, BARTOLINI STYLE

Italy is a country we always associate with wonderful home cooking and fun times: comfort dishes, pasta made from scratch, long simmered sauces, loving Grandmas, loud conversations (also the case back in Brazil, by the way) and happy glasses of wine.  If you are fond of authentic Italian food, “From the Bartolini Kitchens” is a spot you must incorporate into your virtual world. I first got to John’s site indirectly, by reading his comments on blogs we both visited. Each and every comment he wrote made me think “this ChicagoJohn is such a nice guy!”  From comments I jumped to his blog, and became an instant subscriber and avid reader. So, if his site is new to you, stop by and while you are having fun there, make sure to check the story of his family, that could very well be made into a movie. Fascinating to read, just as his recipes and recollections of his cooking with “Zia”.

I have quite a few of his recipes on my list to try, but this one made the jump from “to try soon” to “tried and true” in a couple of weeks. Record time, considering that Sally usually performs her culinary magic in anti-warp speed.  😉

LambShanks1

BRAISED LAMB SHANKS
(slightly adapted from this Bartolini family recipe)

3 lamb shanks
2 tbsp olive oil
4 medium carrots, roughly chopped
leaves and stalks from the top of a celery heart, about 1 cup
1 shallot, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
4 sprigs of rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 cup red wine
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
veal stock (or chicken stock, or water)
salt & pepper to taste
lemon zest for garnish, optional

Heat oven to 250 F.

In a large fry pan, heat the olive oil over med-high heat. Add 2 smashed garlic cloves and sauté until golden. Remove the garlic and discard.

Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper and place them into the pan, browning them on all sides. This could take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and reserve the lamb shanks.

Place all the vegetables into the pan, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until some color is achieved. Add the tomato paste and cook until fragrant and its color deepens, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the red wine, deglaze the pan well, then add lamb shanks back to the pan.  Pour veal stock so that the level of the liquid comes two-thirds up the meat.  Add the rosemary and bay leaf, season the liquid with more salt and pepper.

Cover the pan and place in the oven for 3 hours or more, moving the pieces around every 45 minutes or so. If the liquid dries too much, add water or stock. When the meat is super tender, remove it and reduce the sauce if necessary by boiling it down on top of the stove.

Serve, garnished with lemon zest and sauce on the side.

ENJOY!

 to print the recipe, click here

LambShanks2

Comments:  This braise is one of those perfect recipes to cook when you will be spending a nice Sunday at home, no social obligations, just playing it all by ear. I actually made it on Easter Sunday, but we enjoyed it next day. Hard to beat a meal like this after work on a Monday.  It made me wonder why I don’t do this type of elaborate advanced cooking more often, like every weekend. Yeah, right. I am such a jokester!  😉

I love to keep this type of braise in the fridge overnight because not only the flavors intensify, but it makes it easy to remove the congealed fat on top.  Interestingly, when I tried a bit of the sauce at the end of braising, I thought that the flavor of the vinegar was a tad too strong.  Somehow it was perfectly balanced next day. The magic of Bartolini Kitchens, working at full power!

We enjoyed this delicious lamb with a smooth cauliflower puree, if you want the recipe, here is a flash back from the Bewitching Kitchen’s past. Three lamb shanks were too much for the two of us, of course. But I have big plans for the leftover meat: a lamb ragú to be served over pappardelle.  That shall happen soon, the meat is waiting in the freezer. Well labeled. Obviously.  😉

Plated

 The smell of this dish while braising is intoxicating. In the best possible way….
No individual was immune to it in our home.

Osky

 

John, thanks for a great recipe, I still want to make your Sauce in the style of Bologna which has been calling my name for a long time!  

 

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MAGICAL LAMB STEW with PARSNIPS, PRUNES, and CHICKPEAS

This recipe goes into the category of  “Perfect Saturday Night Dinner.”  From the recent issue of Fine Cooking magazine (number 102), contributed by David Tanis,  it has a  sexy flavor with a North African flair. The many tastes in this meal reminded me of the exotic couscous we used to savor on cold Parisian evenings by the Seine.
plate2

LAMB STEW WITH PARSNIPS, PRUNES, AND CHICKPEAS
(adapted from Fine Cooking magazine # 102)

For the Lamb
3 lb. boneless leg of lamb, cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium carrots, cut into 3-inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and stuck with 1 whole clove
1 three-inch cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf

For the stew
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, cut into small dice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium clove garlic, roughly chopped
1 Tbs. paprika
2 tsp. cumin seed, toasted and ground
2 tsp. coriander seed, toasted and ground
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 cups canned chickpeas, rinsed
12 pitted prunes, halved
1/2 cup tomato purée
1 lb. medium parsnips, peeled, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the oven to 350°F.

Season the lamb with 2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper. In a large Dutch oven combine the lamb, carrots, onion, cinnamon, bay leaf, and add water to cover. Bring to a gentle boil, cover and cook in the oven until the meat is very tender, about 2-1/2 hours. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve over a large bowl. Discard the vegetables and spices. Cool the lamb and broth, and refrigerate separately. Skim the fat from the broth before continuing.

Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pan. Add the diced onion, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned. Add the garlic, paprika, cumin, coriander, and cayenne and cook, stirring for a couple of minutes.

Stir in the chickpeas, prunes, tomato purée, and a pinch of salt. Add the reserved lamb and 4 cups of the broth and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes and then turn the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the parsnips and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve sprinkled with cilantro.

to print the recipe, click here

Comments – this is an unusual stew in the sense that the meat wasn’t browned before braising.    If David Tanis wasn’t the man responsible for the recipe, I’d have had second thoughts about trying it, but he is one of the chefs devising the dishes at Chez Panisse,  the famous Berkeley restaurant.   If he skips the browning, I’ll skip it too. 😉   But, after the 2.5 hours of  braising in the oven, I wasn’t too optimistic.  The meat looked pale and bland, like hospital food.  Without much choice (apart from dialing for pizza),  I finished the stew, and it was like a Phoenix born from the ashes…. the dish beautifully came together!   The lamb was super tender, and the spices permeated the meat, perhaps better than when it’s browned in advance.

We enjoyed it with couscous and a little naan bread.

I had visions of a magic carpet ride!  Maybe it will happen to you too…  😉

para receita em portugues, siga ate’ a proxima pagina

A SPECIAL DINNER FOR TWO…

Sometimes (more often than I care to admit…)  I buy things on impulse, without knowing exactly what to do with them. Last week I saw a New Zealand rack of lamb, and couldn’t resist it. I hid the package in the fridge, hoping to surprise my beloved with a special meal. I think his top three favorite dishes are Beef Wellington, rack of lamb, and grilled salmon….sushi and oysters on the halfshell are also strong contenders…  At any rate, I knew the lamb would be well received!

Normally I’d simplify the preparation of a rack of lamb: salt and pepper, and nothing else. The meat is so flavorful, it shines on its own.   However, a recipe in Ming Tsai’s book (Ming’s Master Recipes) changed my mind, as it had “Autumn” and “Romance” written all over it… 😉

rack1

CRANBERRY-TERIYAKI LAMB RACK  with COUSCOUS SALAD
(adapted from Ming Tsai’s Master Recipes)

2 lamb racks
1 cup cranberry-teriyaki glaze (recipe below)
1 cup couscous, cooked
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 T Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
3 scallions stalks, sliced (reserve green part for garnishing)
1/4 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Marinate the racks of lamb in the glaze for a couple of hours or overnight.   Prepare a hot grill, remove lamb from the marinade and grill it to medium-rare.  For our small racks of lamb, I grilled for 12 minutes, turning them halfway through.  Allow the meat to rest for 5  minutes before slicing it between the bones.

Prepare the couscous salad…
Cook the couscous as instructed in the package, and reserve.  In a large bowl, whisk together lemon juice, zest, and mustard. Slowly add the oil, still whisking, to form an emulsion, and season it with salt and pepper. Add the white part of the scallions, the cranberries and the cooked couscous, tossing well to combine.

To serve, place the couscous on a plate, top it with the lamb chops, garnish with scallion greens, and spoon some extra cranberry glaze on top of the lamb.


CRANBERRY-TERIYAKI GLAZE
1/8 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 shallot, sliced thin
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 cup cranberry juice
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4  cup sugar
zest and juice of 1 orange
salt to taste

In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil, add the dried cranberries, shallot slices and ginger and cook over high heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the cranberry juice, soy sauce, sugar, orange zest and juice and simmer over low heat until reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Let it cool slightly and then transfer it to a blender.

Blend the sauce, adding the remaining olive oil with the machine running.  Do not blend it until it is completely smooth, the sauce is supposed to contain little bits of cranberries.  Taste and adjust seasoning; it keeps for 1 week refrigerated.

couscoussalad2Couscous salad, a perfect match for the lamb…

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here.

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