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Posts Tagged ‘lamb’

I hear Italy has the best tomatoes in the world.

As far as fresh tomatoes, nothing can beat one you pick off your own vine that has been nurtured for weeks.  The taste of sweet success, in nightshade form.

Those Italians have San Marzano tomatoes, they grow and can them.  I bought a large can of those imported tomatoes out of curiosity.  Are these really any better?  Well for a true scientific endeavour, I would have to prepare the exact same recipe using two types of tomatoes, forgein and domestic.  Did I have time for this experiment?  No.  I did prepare the San Marzano tomatoes in a lamb stew inspired by my late great aunt Viola.  My aunt sent me three of Granny’s old cookbooks aftering locating the shoe box housing them.  She sent me the books because you’re the family’s most passionate cook, she wrote in her card accompanying the books.  I cried.  I was elated and touched all at once.  In one of the books, a church group cook book, my Granny’s sister authored a few recipes.  One recipe was a tomato and meat stew, I had just picked up some lamb on a whim so that would be the meat, the tomatoes would be the handsome San Marzano.

Since this type of tomato is so prized and therefore more expensive, be careful to read the label on the can and check for a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) logo, there are immitations out there.  True San Marzano tomatoes are grown in the San Marzano (Campania) region of Italy.  You can buy the seeds and try growing your own, but I doubt they will be the same unless you live near a volcano.  If I find the seeds, I’ll give it a go.  Italy is on the must-see/visit/taste list.

San Marzano Lamb Stew

  • about 1lb of lamb
  • 28oz can San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1/2 head garlic, roasted in foil until soft and fragrant
  • herb de Provence
  • 2 white or gold potatoes, peeled and diced
  • handful green beans, trimmed
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • parsley (garnish)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook the tomatoes in their sauce over medium-low heat.  In corporate the roasted garlic, salt and pepper.  Break the whole pieces of tomatoes apart as they cook.

Season the lamb with salt, pepper, and herb de Provence.  Brown in a Dutch oven on the stove.  Remove and sauté the onion in the fat.  Return the meat to the pan and fill in the gaps with the potatoes and green beans.  Add the tomatoes and cover.  Transfer to a 350ºF oven for 30 – 45 minutes.

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Last week I posted a challenge to all you bloggers, what are your favorite foods that you want to challenge me with?  Bokkie gave me today’s secret ingredient: lamb!

Leg of lamb was the choise cut for dinner with the grandparents.  Salt and pepper the entire surface of the leg, this one was about 4 pounds, then sear all sides in a hot pan suitable to be transferred to the oven.  Pre-heat the oven to 400°F.

Roast the leg for 30 minutes.  Then add a glass of red wine (we were having a Bonterra ’08 Cabernet Sauvignon to drink, supposedly with fruit and pepper notes and was not too dry) and sprinkle herbs de Provence over the meat.  Return the leg promptly to the hot oven to roast once again for 20-30 minutes.  Roughly allow 20 minutes per pound, if left without searing it first.  I removed the leg at 70 minutes, let it rest for ten minutes before carving.  Use those drippings with a slurry of cornstarch in some more wine of course, and bring it to a bubble on the stove.  Do be mindful that pan it hot!

Leg of Lamb

The next day, I was amazed there were left overs of the lamb.  All the more to experiment with my dear!

So as the crazy chefs seem to invent dishes in kitchen stadium, I looked at the lamb with a quizzical face… what are you going to become?  The answer was homey and simple.  Grilled cheese sandwiches.

Thin slices of lamb were piled on wheat bread spread with Dijon mustard.  Some homemade pickles were finely diced and sharp aged cheddar cheese was shredded using a box grater.  I just wish we had a better loaf to include in this dish, oh well!

Throw this into your favorite grilling pan to toast both sides to a golden crisp.  Slice and serve.

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Rack of Lamb

Today we bought our first rack of lamb.  This is not a typical main dish in our home, as it’s quite expensive for our family of 4.5 (counting the dog of course).  I thought it would be a nice treat and something to get my culinary fangs into.  A challenge.

Lamb is very forgiving to work with.  This rack is from New Zealand, and had the ribs Frenched before packaging, a big time saver for a busy mom like myself.  There was a thin fat cap and silver skin, I loosened the skin in preparation of a buttery implement.

Sure, you could use a dry marinade, but why not use a compound butter?  Take a good tablespoon of butter, add an insane amount of freshly minced garlic and a tablespoon of fresh rosemary – and I mean just-picked-off-the-plant fresh rosemary.  This makes a difference, I think, because the essential oils of the plant have not had a chance to wither away, the herb is very fragrant and that’s how it should be.  To the butter, include sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, plus a few drops of olive oil to ease the viscosity of the butter.

Take a little of the butter mixture and stuff it under the loose skin on both racks.  Then smear the remainder all over the outside.  Interlace the ribs and place into a shallow roasting pan, or a stainless steel pan with no rubber handles.  Sprinkle a dash more sea salt and pepper on the top of the meat and the ribs.  Roast, fat side up, in a 425 F oven for about 20-25 minutes.   The internal temperature should read 130 F minimum, 140-150 F for medium, which may add 5-8 minutes.  Then turn on the broiler to finish the crust, the salt will help the meat brown, the butter under the skin will melt into the meat as it cooks.  Allow the finished rack of lamb to rest for 10 minutes before carving between each rib.

I’ve also made single lamb pops using a dry marinade consisting of the same formula as the compound butter, only there’s to butter added.  Rub the pops on both sides and let them marinate in the fridge for 2 hours.  Let them warm up on the counter before cooking, 20 minutes or so – not too long.  Lightly coat with olive oil and quickly sear in a skillet on both sides.  Finish the pops in the oven (425 F) to your desired doneness, I let mine roast for about 12 minutes.  Under the broiler would cut that amount of time in half easily, however you would need to watch the lamb pops like a hawk, or like Pepper our dog.

Rack of lamb only sounds complicated and fancy, it’s really not!  Try this at least once and tell me about it…

~ midnitechef

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