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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SWEET POTATO CRUST QUICHE

This recipe captured my imagination the moment I saw it in Cooking Light and I could not wait to make it, because c’mon, we are talking quiche… I don’t know a single person who doesn’t like it. Ok, I take it back. My first husband didn’t. Obviously, things could not have ended well in that relationship. One wonders. Back to culinary issues, quiche is such a great recipe: it has elegance, it has substance, and you can come up with all sorts of variations for the filling. The only thing that gives me pause about making it is the pastry part, since it needs to be refrigerated, rolled out, etc etc. Not a huge deal breaker, but it definitely makes this delicacy less likely to show up at our table on weeknights.  This variation takes care of that problem. Instead of dealing with the dough, you grab a couple of sweet potatoes, peel them, slice them thin and call it a day. It also has the added bonus of being quite a bit lighter. What’s not to like?

Sweet Potato Crust Quiche

SWEET POTATO CRUST QUICHE
(adapted from Cooking Light magazine)

2 medium sweet potatoes
a few sprays of coconut oil
1 (5-ounce) bag baby spinach
1/2 cup full-fat milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
dash of freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
4 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1.5 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Heat the oven to 350°, then peel and slice sweet potatoes. Coat a pie dish with coconut cooking spray, then fill the bottom of the dish with a layer of sweet potato slices. Once the entire dish is filled, spray one more time with cooking spray and season lightly with salt. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn heat up to 375°.

For the filling, heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add spinach; sauté 3 minutes. Remove from heat; cool. Combine milk with all the spices and eggs in a bowl, stir well with a whisk. Arrange spinach mixture in crust; pour egg mixture over spinach. Sprinkle with feta. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes. Let stand for at least 10 minutes; cut into wedges.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

quichecompotsite

Comments: I loved this recipe! To me it was close to perfection because I liked the slight sweetness offered by the potato crust in contrast with the sharp feta cheese. However, Phil would prefer the crust to be harder, and due to the nature of sweet potatoes, that is not an easy task. He thought maybe if I baked the crust longer and at a higher temperature it could work better. It’s definitely worth experimenting. One of the issues is “shrinkage.”  Baking for the time specified in the recipe already caused the sides to shrink down considerably. I guess I could add a bit more slices to the sides and see how it goes. But, even with a slightly soft crust Phil thought the quiche was flavorful and made for a delicious side dish for our dinner. I know most people would serve it with a light salad, but we are meat lovers and savored a nice T-bone steak with it, medium-rare in all its glory. My apologies to all our vegetarian friends and two of my nieces in Brazil.

slice2

So many flavors going well together here!

 

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CRISPY CORNMEAL SWEET POTATO FRIES

I am not quite sure how many recipes for oven-fried sweet potatoes I’ve tried in the past few years in a quest for the right amount of crunch outside, and a creamy, perfectly cooked interior. It’s not easy to get this combination. All my previous attempts failed to impress us, but this version was definitely blog-worthy.

Cornmeal Crusted Sweet Potatoes
(made on May 09th; blogged on July 24th)

CRISPY CORNMEAL SWEET POTATO FRIES
(adapted from My New Roots)

2 – 3 large sweet potatoes
2 Tbsp. melted coconut oil
4 Tbsp. cornmeal
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp paprika (sweet, hot or smoked)
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Scrub the sweet potatoes well under running water. Slice them into long sticks (thinner than 1/2 inch). Place them in a bowl of water, swish around a few times, then drain. Lay them on a clean tea towel and dry thoroughly. Let them air dry completely.
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Heat the oven to 400°F/200°C. On low heat, melt coconut oil in a small saucepan. Place cut potatoes in a plastic bag, seal and shake the bag vigorously to coat (this can also be done on a baking sheet, drizzle the oil over and toss very well to coat). Add cornmeal, salt, and smoked paprika to the bag and toss well to coat.
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Place potatoes on a lined baking sheet, making sure that they are not overlapping.
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Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and crisp.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

composite

We are not too wild about buying frozen food, but Alexis frozen sweet potato fries are the exception to this rule. I have no idea what they do to make their sweet potatoes so crisp, without any apparent coating. Still, I am glad this recipe gave us a nice alternative, with the added bonus of being able to season them according to our mood, or what we are having as a main dish. In this particular evening, we had open-faced cheeseburgers with slices of avocado and tomatoes.  The sweet potatoes with the amazing paprika our friend brought all the way from Slovakia were perfect alongside.

dinnerDinner is served!


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ROASTED WINTER VEGETABLES WITH MISO-LIME DRESSING

Long name for a great side dish that might turn into a full meal if coupled with goodies such as barley, couscous, quinoa, or a nice helping of soft-cooked polenta…  Once more the inspiration to make this recipe came from Fer’s site, Chucrute com Salsicha. She always shares interesting recipes that take ingredients through some unusual path.  I love it!

Roasted Vegetables with Miso-Lime GlazeROASTED WINTER VEGETABLES WITH MISO-LIME DRESSING
(adapted from Chucrute com Salsicha,  originally published in The Kitchn)

8 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
1 medium sweet potato, peeled, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil (I needed to use a little more)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons yellow miso paste
2 tablespoons walnut oil
Black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Place sweet potato and cauliflower pieces on a large bowl. Place Brussels sprouts in a separate bowl. Drizzle all veggies with olive oil,  sprinkle with salt and toss to thoroughly coat. Add the sweet potato and cauliflower to a baking sheet and roast, moving them every once in a while.  Total roasting time for sweet potato and cauliflower will be about 25 minutes.  After they have been in the oven for 10 minutes, add the Brussels sprouts.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together the lime juice and miso paste until smooth. Slowly drizzle in the walnut oil, whisking constantly, until thoroughly combined.

Place the roasted vegetables in a large bowl, pour in the dressing and toss to coat. Adjust seasoning. Serve warm or at room temperature.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you visit TheKitchn for the original recipe, you will notice they recommend using three baking trays, but Fer, in her version, simplified quite a bit, and I did the same.  One large baking sheet was more than enough to handle all the veggies, just add them in the order they cook, Brussels sprouts going last.  Other than that, the recipe was followed closely enough.

CloseUpRoasted

Miso and lime might become my favorite flavor combo for this year, the miso is sweet and funky, the lime is the life of the party, and if you ask me, a mandatory guest when Brussels sprouts are around.  Fer served her veggies with barley, I went with Israeli couscous.  But being the omnivores we are, this super delicious side dish was paired with (vegetarians, close your eyes now) grilled flank steak.  A great dinner! Leftovers were amazing for lunch next day, by the way.

Served1

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ORANGE POMEGRANATE CHICKEN: A WORK IN PROGRESS

This recipe, from a recent compilation in Fine Cooking called “One Pot Meals”, went from the page to a pot in the blink of an eye.  It called for all kinds of goodies that I love: chicken, root veggies, pomegranate and the perfect spices to tie them together.  The glaze roasted into a sexy ruby color, and the skin of the chicken will make anyone smile.  So, why is it a work in progress, you might ask?   Read on….

ORANGE POMEGRANATE CHICKEN
(adapted from Fine Cooking magazine)

1 large orange, zested and juiced
1 cup pomegranate juice
1-1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
Freshly ground black pepper
6 tsp. olive oil
Kosher salt
3/4 cup chicken broth
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium parsnips, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 leeks, white part only, cut in 1/4 inch slices
4-lb. chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Heat the oven to 400°F.

In a medium saucepan, Combine the orange juice and pomegranate juice in a saucepan, bring to a boil and reduce it to 1/4 cup (about 20 minutes). Add half of the thyme (eye balling is fine), all the cinnamon, and black pepper (about 1/4 tsp or according to your taste). Divide the mixture between two small bowls. To one bowl add 2 tsp. of the oil and 1/2 tsp. salt. To the other add the chicken broth, all but 1 tsp. of the orange zest, and 1/4 tsp. salt.

Scatter the sweet potatoes, parsnips, and leeks over the bottom of a dish that measures about 10 x 15 x 2 inches. Toss with the remaining 4 tsp. of oil and the rest of the thyme.  Arrange the chicken pieces, skin side up, on top of the vegetables and brush with all of the juice-oil mixture. Roast for 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and reduce the temperature to 375°F. Pour the reduced pomegranate-chicken broth mixture around the chicken pieces and scatter the walnuts around them.  Return the pan to the oven and roast until the vegetables are tender and an instant-read thermometer registers 165°F in several pieces of chicken, 20 to 30 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a serving dish.  Remove the veggies and walnuts with a slotted spoon, season them lightly with salt, sprinkle the remaining orange zest all over the meat and veggies. Pour the liquid from the roasting pan in a pyrex type container, remove as much fat as possible.  Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper and pour into a pitcher to serve with the food.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here


Comments:  Make sure you use pure pomegranate juice (yes, it is expensive compared to blends, but  worth it in this case, because you will concentrate it quite a bit).  I’d love to give this recipe two thumbs all the way up, but it had some problems.  Many of the pieces of sweet potatoes and parsnips were not completely cooked: their centers were still hard.  I tested some with a fork before removing from the oven, but as Murphy’s Law would have it, those were perfect… (sigh).  Next time I’ll cover the dish with foil during the first 30 minutes, then pour the liquid all over it and roast it uncovered, perhaps adding a little more water if the veggies dry up during the final roasting.  I suspect that with this minor change it will be a winner.

One pot meals are such life-savers for a busy cook, and this recipe, apart from reducing the pomegranate/orange juice, doesn’t require much work. Even better, the reduction could be made a couple of days in advance.  With a nice loaf of bread or a green salad, dinner is ready!

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