Category: Lamb

Italian-Style Braised Leg of Lamb

Italian-Style Braised Leg of Lamb

above: braised, cooled, chilled overnight, sliced and covered in its sauce right before warming in oven for serving the second day

Lamb, the meat of any-time-of-the-year special occasions, happy summer grilling, and winter warming stews, is the quintessential meat despite the infamous quote from, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,”

Aunt Voula: What do you mean he don’t eat no meat?

[the entire room stops, in shock]

Aunt Voula: Oh, that’s okay. I make lamb.

Continue reading “Italian-Style Braised Leg of Lamb”

Ina Fridays — Main Courses — Lamb Shanks + Orzo

Ina Fridays — Main Courses — Lamb Shanks + Orzo

 IMG_4820

(above– lamb shanks + orzo)

The first Friday of every month, I blog INA FRIDAYS (all Ina Garten recipes) with a great group of cooks.  Scroll down to check out the list of blogs participating, then read up and cook some Ina this weekend!  ♥♥♥

I’m a sucker for cold-weather meals.  I barely live through summer with its rosé wine and grilled suppers.  My heart was born to yearn for both red meat and red wine–perhaps because I’m a girl born and raised in Chicago where I breathed in the freezing wind off the lake and let it blow me all over the ice ponds where I cut my skating teeth. IMG_4787 (above:  my front yard yesterday)

So you can understand how I felt with a snow storm on the way, four meaty lamb shanks unthawing, and a big bottle of cab waiting on the table in the dining room.  My friend Mary Pat, my son Sean, and my husband Dave were all put on notice:

There will be lamb.  Be ready…

The day was planned around when the lamb needed to get into the oven.  A day when the temperature, for the most part, was a sweet -6 Fahrenheit… IMG_4774 (above and below:  young females in our neighborhood herd) Continue reading “Ina Fridays — Main Courses — Lamb Shanks + Orzo”

Lamb and Barley Stew with Root Vegetables

Lamb and Barley Stew with Root Vegetables

I’m not sure why lamb isn’t eaten more the United States; I adore it.  But often people will just  blurt out, “I don’t like lamb.”  In some other parts of the world, lamb is precious, but more common than stateside–as is goat.  It doesn’t answer the question about why so many Americans “don’t like” lamb; I think they just haven’t had much of it and what they have had as been poorly prepared.  I wish they could have some stew…

I rarely had lamb growing up–and, if I did, it was a tiny lamb chop with some potatoes and peas prepared simply to showcase the sweet bite of meat.  Of course there was mint jelly.  This may have had something to do with living with in 25 miles of the Chicago Stockyards, or simply in the mid west where beef was (and is) king. Maybe it was southern-born parents cooking up north.  Maybe it was cash. Continue reading “Lamb and Barley Stew with Root Vegetables”

Lamb Chops in Curried Red Lentil Soup

Lamb Chops in Curried Red Lentil Soup

I am both blessed and cursed to be forced to cook for just me on a regular basis.  My better half has always traveled, and while for years I cooked for the kids and me, the kids are off cooking for themselves now.  These days, it’s often just “the babies” and me for dinner.

“The Babies”

You might remember or know the story:  There was a time when I was so relieved at not having to cook for a big group all the time that I just made eggs and toast.  It wasn’t long, however, before I got pretty tired of that and began to look around and start cooking exactly what I wanted for dinner.  Why not?  In fact, the kids talked me into writing a separate blog about it.   If you’re a regular reader, you know I blog elsewhere.  Otherwise, check out dinnerplace dot blogspot dot com. 

Stop in at The Groveland Tap:  Fairview/St. Clair — Saint Paul, Minnesota

It doesn’t mean there aren’t nights when I don’t feel like cooking (or cleaning up) and just bring home a great meal from the Groveland Tap–our fine family bar and grill one block down. (We can take the babies to the Tap and sit outside in good weather.) And, of course I sometimes go out with a friend — but most times I do cook.  Often I’m working on something for the soup cookbook or for one of blogs (this gives me real reason to cook), but there are times when I just feel like making myself something scrumptious.

Lamb Chops in Curried Red Lentil Soup is sort of an amalgam of a couple of those nights.  Many friends and/or testers have eaten  my red lentil soup; it’ll be in the upcoming book.  (In fact, I have made it for an ecumenical Taizé prayer dinner; the soup itself is vegan.) It’s still being tweaked, so I won’t include the recipe here, but  provide a link to a similar soup.  You can also bring soup home from the deli or your local soup nazi.  Anyway,  I had made a big pot for Souper Sunday, a fundraiser at Prospect Park United Methodist (where I work as a choir director), and also had some beautiful Colorado (the best) lamb chops that needed cooking.  The frig held nothing that sounded good as a side for lamb chops, but I kept eying that pot of soup. The aromatics with the heat, tomatoes, lentils, and curry are natural companions to lamb.  I’m partial to rosemary with lamb and, oddly, the flavors melded beautifully.  No arguments were heard between the spices or in my mouth.

If you can get it–and it’s hard to find–buy Colorado lamb.  Here in Saint Paul, Kowalski’s, a small local grocery chain sells only Colorado lamb.  You can easily cook frozen lamb chops; it will just take a couple of extra minutes.

Chops in already-cooked soup make for a truly fast dinner; lamb chops are cooked in just a few minutes. This is a meal you’ll need spoon, fork, and knife for–but I encourage you to pick up the lamb chops at some point. (Red meat is quite a treat.) Get your hands dirty and don’t waste a bite; the tenderest morsels are always closest to the bone.  You can hold the chop by its bone and dip it into the soup if you like.  A bit of crumbled feta is the perfect topping.  While curry and red wine aren’t always companions, I had no trouble putting them together here.  I drank some leftover California cab and was a happy Minnesotan.  While I loved this all by myself, it would make a tasty meal for friends.  (Add some olives for starters, a bit of bread –grilled pita?– with the soup, lemon sorbet for dessert.)  Try this:

Set the table and pour the wine before you cook. You’ll be ready to eat soon.

lamb chops in curried red lentil soup
  serves 2 (two chops each) or 4 (one chop each) with 2 cups of soup for each serving

Hot red lentil soup (4-8 cups)
4 lamb chops, room temperature (I like loin or rib chops, but any will do.)
Olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground or cracked black pepper
1-2 teaspoon(s) finely minced and crushed dried rosemary, to taste and optional
2 tablespoons crumbled feta for each bowl

Colorado loin lamb chops

Heat stove top grill (or outdoor gas/charcoal) over high heat for 2-3 minutes. (You can use a cast iron skillet, too.)  Meantime, drizzle the chops with a little olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and rosemary, if using.  Grill for 2-3 minutes without moving, turn, and grill another 2-3 for medium-rare.* As you turn them, do let the chops cook briefly on their sides to cook off/crisp up some of the fat.  You don’t want these too done, as the soup is hot and may cook them just a little more.  Remove to a plate and let rest 2-3 minutes.

Into warm pasta bowls, ladle about two cups of the hot lentil soup.  Add a chop or two for each (as well as any juices on the plate) depending on how big of a portion you’d like, and top with crumbled feta.  Pass pepper grinder and hot sauce at the table.

USDA Cooking Temperatures

Sing a new song,
Alyce

No-Hassle Easter

No-Hassle Easter

Cupcakes–Make them and freeze them tonight.  Defrost and frost Saturday or Order plain from the bakery and decorate at home.

no hassle Easter menu  serves 8

Deviled Eggs*
Make-ahead Green Bean Salad with Shallot Cream Dressing**
Pan-Grilled Double Lamb Rib Chops with Tapenade**
Oven-Roasted Rosemary Whole Carrots**
Czech Easter Bread, optional *
Cupcakes with Jelly Bean Frosting (Buy or Make)*

My choices for wine:  Bethel Heights Pinot Gris
           Fisher Cabernet Sauvignon — your choice— or ask your winemonger for a great Cab for Easter

**Recipes below
*Click link for recipe/choose your own

Czech Easter Bread (Link to recipe above.)
This menu promises full tummies and smiles all around for the Bunny-Cooks who
 bake up/buy some cupcakes in the next day or two, 
 make short work of the  leftover boiled eggs turned starter deviled eggs,
 throw some fresh vegetables into the microwave briefly to create a spring salad extraordinaire,
 and then grill a few tiny, but fat double lamb chops while quick-roasting a pan full of long, slim carrots covered with pepper and rosemary.  Phew. 
Just a few tulips–the perfect centerpiece.

 Or why do it all yourself?  You might get your cousin to do the cupcakes, your sister to do the salad, and so on.  Make the day easy on yourself since someone had to clean the house and put out the egg-shaped candles, afterall. But if you’re doing it all yourself, here’s how:

No cupcakes for these guys.

 GAME PLAN:  


1. Today or Tomorrow:   Do grocery shopping.  Make/buy carrot cake cupcakes. Freeze plain cupcakes. 
2.  Friday:  Make tapenade and store well-covered.  Keep others out of it until Sunday.  Boil eggs.
3. Saturday:  Used boiled Easter eggs and make deviled eggs.  Store loosely covered in refrigerator. Do not sprinkle with paprika until ready to serve.  Here are three recipes or make your own. 
4. Saturday or Sunday morning:  Make the salad and dressing. (recipes below); refrigerate them separately until Sunday.
5.  Sunday: 

  • In the morning:  unthaw and frost cupcakes if not already done.  Store out of reach of the dogs and kids.
  • ”    ”      ”       :  set and decorate table
  • 1 1/2 hours before dinner:  Bring lamb chops to room temperature.  Uncork/decant red wine.
  • Set out deviled eggs and uncork white wine for starters.
  • Peel/prepare carrots and place on a half-sheet pan.  Prepare chops for cooking.
  • Pan-grill, then roast chops and oven-roast carrots.  Place chops and carrots on a large platter with tapenade and pass at the table.
  • Just before eating:  Spoon salad into large serving bowl, drizzle with dressing, and toss well.  Pour red wine. Place bread on table if serving.
  • Serve cupcakes and smile. 

  recipes:

 Make-Ahead Green Bean Salad with Cream Shallot Dressing
    serves 8

This recipe calls for you to blanch the beans and fresh peas briefly in boiling water, drain, and cool quickly in an ice bath.  You can also cook them, separately, in the microwave for 2-3 minutes with just a couple of tablespoons of water in a microwave-safe covered bowl.

  • 6 cups fresh haricots verts or green beans, trimmed, blanched, cooled in ice bath, and drained
  • 3 cups fresh green peas (or frozen), blanched, cooled in ice bath, and drained
  • 2 cups sliced celery
  • 1/2 c each diced red  bell pepper, yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup thinly-sliced carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 4 cups mixed salad greens
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper



Dressing:   2T minced shallots, 2T lemon juice, 1 cup half and half, 2T finely minced flat-leaf parsley,  1/4 tsp each sea salt/ fresh ground pepper, 1 tsp grated lemon zest,  2 drops Tabasco.  Place all ingredients in a jar with a tightly-fitted lid and shake vigorously when making and just before dressing salad.

  1.  One day ahead:  Mix all salad ingredients—except lemon juice– together in a large bowl.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. 
  2. When ready to serve, add lemon juice and toss well.  Drizzle with dressing and toss again.  Taste and re-season.  (You’ll have leftover dressing.  Store in refrigerator 2-3 days.)

Note: This salad is loosely based on one from the book SALAD FOR DINNER by Patricia Wells, who is one of my favorite cookbook authors.

Pan-grilled Double Lamb Rib Chops with Tapenade and Oven-Roasted Rosemary Carrots

  serves 8

  A. Up to two days ahead, make tapenade and store tightly covered in the refrigerator:

Tapenade- Chopped olives, garlic, parsley and anchovies.  Great with sliced baguette or crackers, too.
  • 2 cups pitted kalamata olives
  • 3 anchovies
  • 1/2 cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil                                              
  • 1T red wine vinegar
  • 1T fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch fresh ground pepper
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • salt, if needed, to taste   

Process all ingredients in a food processor fitted with the metal blade.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Store, well-covered, in refrigerator until needed.  Serve in a bowl on the table for guests to help themselves or spoon a bit on each chop if you like. 

B.  For chops and carrots ( recipe, see below) — about 45 minutes before dinner time.

  •     8 double lamb rib chops at room temperature
  •      olive oil
  •      kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper

 

  • 2 dozen long, thin carrots, peeled and trimmed
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher Salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 4T finely minced fresh rosemary

 
 Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 

 Place carrots on a large baking sheet/s, drizzle with oil and dust generously with salt, pepper, and   rosemary.  Place pan of carrots in the oven on a rack in the bottom third of the oven and roast until tender and somewhat crispy.

Heat grill pan or large, heavy skillet/s for the chops over medium-high heat.  Place another rack, for the chops, in the upper third.

  1. Meantime, drizzle chops with olive oil on both sides and salt and pepper thoroughly on both sides.  Brown chops very well on each side and remove to a roasting pan or oven-safe casserole.  When all the chops are browned, place pan/casserole in the oven and roast until done to your liking. 
  2.  Use instant-read thermometer to determine if chops are done.  I like mine fairly rare (quite pink) and took them out to rest when the temperature was between 120 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit.  If you’d like them just pink, try 140 degrees.  Quite done is about 160.
  3. Remove pan/casserole from oven and remove chops to serving platter.  Let sit 2-3 minutes. 
  4. Remove carrots from the oven and add them to the platter. Serve hot with tapenade  

Note:  If you’d like to use nice big and thick bone-in pork chops instead of lamb chops, they’ll work just as well using the same process.  You’ll want them cooked to 145 degrees Fahrenheit (medium rare) and allowed to rest a few minutes.  Great with tapenade.

Happy Easter and Sing a New Song,
Alyce

Alyce’s Lamb Shanks on Mashed Ginger Rutabaga and Next Day Lamb Stew

Alyce’s Lamb Shanks on Mashed Ginger Rutabaga and Next Day Lamb Stew

I like a pasta bowl for lamb shanks and sides…sit them up in the rutabagas to show them off.

 If you’re a bit unsure about lamb shanks… what they are or how to cook them, here’s the deal:  they’re pretty much like cooking a tiny pot roast on a big old bone.  Whatever treatment you’ve given beef chuck roast is probably going to work with lamb shanks–which are from way up on the lamb’s leg.  Since the meat is tough, it needs to be braised (cooked in liquid) and the braising liquid of choice is often wine, though it needn’t be.  A stiff stout would work, as would broth, tomatoes, cider and water…whatever floats your shanks.  Add root vegetables and/or onions, celery, garlic, and you’ve an entire meal.   Even just onions and wine with a bit of dried rosemary will give you something well worth eating.  Most recipes call for two lamb shanks per person; there isn’t a lot of meat on one.  I find that given the vegetables and sauce inevitably cooked with them that one is plenty.

I start  lamb shanks on top of the stove and finish them in the oven, cutting off about a 1/2 hour cooking time compared to all oven braising.   They can also be done totally on top of the stove, paring down the cooking time even more to about an hour total. Because I wanted a simple rutabaga mash as a base, I cooked the rutabaga separately stove top just like you would mashed potatoes, except I added fresh ginger and garlic to the cooking water.  You could certainly cook the rutabaga in the pot with the meat for ease of preparation; add them for the oven time only.  Or, if you wanted, you could mix up a bit of couscous (in place of the rutabaga)  while the lamb rests or even make a salad in place of green beans. I added potatoes mostly because I wanted them for the next day stew.  It won’t take much (and actually there are vegetables in the sauce) to finish this meal.  Then, there’s

way fast shanks in the microwave

If you’re interested in under an hour (really),  folks have also been microwaving lamb shanks with great success since 1989 thanks to THE NEW BASICS COOKBOOK (Workman, 1989) written by Silver Palate gurus Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins. These shanks are done in 30 minutes.  Just for fun, here’s  the info for microwaving the shanks:  (And by the way, I microwave my chuck roasts for chimichangas.)

In a 2 qt microwave-safe casserole, cook 2T olive oil at full power for 2 minutes.  Stir in 1 cup chopped red bell pepper, 3/4 c chopped onion, 2 cloves minced garlic, 2 sprigs rosemary (1/2 t dried), 1/2 tsp salt, freshly ground black pepper, 3/4 cup dry red wine, and 1T tomato paste.  Cook, uncovered, 5 min.  Remove 1/2 of the vegetable mixture and set it aside.   Lightly oil 3 small lamb shanks with a bit more olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.  Arrange shanks in a triangle over the vegetables remaining in the casserole.  Cover, and cook for 20 min.  Turn the shanks and cook another 10 min.  Spoon the reserved vegetables over the shanks, cover, and cook 2 minutes.  Remove the casserole from the microwave, and let it stand for 5 minutes before serving.  Serves 2-3.

 Still a great all-purpose cookbook( above recipe courtesy THE NEW BASICS)

If you’d like to try them my way, do what Dave and I did:  put on some great music, pour yourself a glass of wine, and throw this in the oven to braise while you put your feet up and talk through the day.  While you can sure eat lamb shanks alone, they’re worth sharing.  And, wonder of wonders, if you didn’t eat the third lamb shank, you can make a beautiful stew next day…recipe down below.

wine

While the French like Bordeaux with lamb, I am partial to a softer, rounder wine here like Burgundy (Oregon Pinot Noir to be exact; good French Burgundy is out of my price range generally speaking) or a (red) French Côtes du Rhône, which is a Grenache blend.  These wines, for my palate, compliment the softer, sweeter notes in the root vegetables. So, yes, you’ll need two bottles of wine for this meal.  One for you and one for the pot.  (Not a bad deal.)  Ask your wine shop about an inexpensive–under $15– Côtes du Rhône; there are lots of tasty values.  The Oregon Pinot will be pricier for the most part (though there are some $20-$30 bottles), but really worth it for a splurge or birthday.  These wines will be $40-$50 and up and are often cellared for several years before drinking.  So if you head toward the Pinot for you to drink, pick up something less expensive for the pot.  Which ones:  I love most Oregon Pinots, but have soft spots for PriveKen Wright and Sineann,

Try this: 

 alyce’s lamb shanks with mashed ginger rutabaga, new potatoes, and lemon-crumbed green beans               serves 2-3

Raw lamb shank

Let them brown well on each side
  • 3-4 lamb shanks
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 t each kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (plus extra for vegetables)
  • 4T olive oil, divided
  • 3 cups chopped onions
  • 2 stalks celery, with leaves, chopped
  • 4 large carrots, trimmed
  • 3 cloves garlic, whole
  • 1 750 ml bottle red wine; I like Cotes du Rhone
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1t Herbes de Provence
  • 1 large sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1 large rutabaga, trimmed and peeled
  • 6-8 small red potatoes  (No recipe given for steaming potatoes or beans.)
  • 2-3 cups fresh green beans
  • 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1t butter
  • 1/2 t grated lemon rind
  • 2t chopped fresh parsley

  1.  Mix flour with salt and pepper in a shallow, large bowl.  Place one shank at a time in the bowl and, using your hands, cover with the flour-salt-pepper mixture.  Repeat with remaining shanks.
  2. Meantime, heat over medium heat 2T of the olive oil in a heavy, oven-safe pot (you’ll need a lid or heavy-duty aluminum foil; this must be covered).  Place the shanks in the pot and let brown well–10 minutes.  Turn over and brown the other side.  Remove shanks from pan and set aside.
  3. Add remaining 2T olive oil, heat and add vegetables (onions, celery, carrots, garlic), sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper, and saute briefly–5 minutes or so.  Add herbs–  bay, rosemary,  thyme, the tiny bit of crushed red pepper, and Herbes de Provence.  Pour in wine and chicken stock and bring to a boil.

 4.  Return lamb shanks to the pan. Reduce heat to a simmer.  Cover and cook on stovetop 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
5.  Place covered pot in oven and bake another hour or so until meat is quite tender…maybe even coming off the bone if you like it like that.  (Meantime, make the rutabaga mash (see below for recipe) new potatoes and green beans–no recipe provided for these.  I do like a bit of bread crumbs with lemon and pepper on my beans.  What I do is throw a piece of great white baguette in the food processor and then toast those crumbs in a bit of butter and grated lemon peel.  When the beans are steamed and salted, and peppered, I top them with the lemon-crumb mixture)

Making a sauce and serving up:

1.  Remove the cooked shanks to a warm dish and cover.  Place back in oven to keep warm while you make the sauce and mash the rutabagas.

  

 

Cover and return to oven to keep warm while you make the sauce.

2.  In the pan you should have a 1/2 pot of lovely gravy with soft carrots, onions, and so on.   If you can do it, spoon off a bit of the fat and remove the small sticks leftover from the rosemary and thyme.  Taste and see if it needs seasoning.  If you have an immersion blender, haul out the power tools and blend this sauce a bit—as smooth as you’d like.  If no immersion blender, you can carefully transfer some of the sauce and veggies to a food processor or simply mash away with a potato masher.  Taste again and adjust seasoning if needed.
3.  In a large shallow bowl, place half of the rutabaga mash and carefully sit a lamb shank, bone up, in the mash, so that it stands at attention. Spoon a generous serving of sauce on meat and mash.  Repeat with the remaining serving(s).
4.  Add steamed potatoes and green beans, if serving.  Garnish with chopped parsley.
5.  Serve hot.  Let leftovers cool completely, cover well, and refrigerate 1-2 days until you make stew.

mashed ginger rutabaga   2 servings

Bring a 2-3 qt saucepan 1/2 full of water to a boil.  Add a 1″ piece of fresh ginger and 1 peeled garlic clove, as well as a generous pinch of salt and pepper.  Meantime, trim and peel one large rutabaga, which looks like a large turnip…with gnarly roots.  Just for fun, know that Brits call these babies swedes and Scots call them neeps just as they do turnips.  Cut the rutabaga into 1/2 inch pieces and add to the boiling water.  Cook until tender, about 20 minutes, and drain.  Remove garlic and ginger; discard.  Mash rutabaga well with a tablespoon of butter using a potato masher or a mixer.  Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper; taste and adjust seasoning. (Remember these vegetables will have a hearty sauce on them.)
Cut up the cooked new potatoes for the stew; they go in toward the end or they’ll disintegrate.
leftover lamb stew                    serves 4

  •  2T olive oil
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and sliced into  1/4-1/2″ moons
  • 1/2 large turnip, peeled and diced
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 6 large mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Leftover lamb braising sauce
  • Leftover new potatoes, cut up
  • Leftover lamb, cut off the bone and chopped finely
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • Drop or two of hot sauce if needed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. To an 8 qt stock pot, add olive oil and heat over medium heat.  Add fennel, turnip, carrots and mushrooms.  Cook for 5-7 minutes until just softening and beginning to brown a bit.  
  2. Pour in broth, water, and braising sauce and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and add potatoes,  and lamb.
  3. Let cook until vegetables are quite tender…20-30 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning, adding salt, pepper, or hot sauce as needed.
  4. Serve hot garnished with parsley and with some baguette for dunking.

two dog kitchen and what else I’ve been cooking:

   Pan-Roasted Brussel Sprouts and New Potatoes with Parmesan and Onions

I blogged this on my other blog, Dinner Place, The Solo Cook

When do we get to walk?  This computer stuff is getting old, Mom.
Testing a new bread machine.

Leftover grilled chicken with pomegranate seeds, berries and cabbage-spinach salad with sherry vinaigrette
Our Gab

Zabaglione…will make again and blog…

Chickadees, in bitter cold, grab seeds and break them with their beaks while standing on metal feeders.  Brr. You think you have food problems.

Sing a new song, and cook lamb!
Alyce

Summer Lamb Chops or "It’s Too Darned Hot"

Summer Lamb Chops or "It’s Too Darned Hot"

I do, I do, I do, I do love lamb chops.  Any time.  But I really love them in the summer when you can grill them up in a few minutes time while you make a salad, warm some bread, or grill some veggies, too.  For a long time, I’ve been looking at harissa with lamb chops (Tyler Florence has a recipe for it in TYLER’S ULTIMATE), and, you know how it is:  You go to cook something you’ve cooked a zillion times (I wish I’d had lamb chops a zillion times.) and you just do it that way for a zillion and one.   Another pass by a harissa recipe and I’d put it aside, sighing theatrically.  This is getting to be like why I don’t make croissants.  (Trust me, just buy them.)   Maybe I had no lamb then.  Who knows.  But this time.  This time.  I did it.  I made the harissa and a little cous cous (redundant, isn’t it?) with sauteed onions and raisins.  I stirred up a big pan of eggplant, zucchini, red and yellow peppers and onions.  Conjured up a bottle of Australian Shiraz (a mistake, but a good mistake) and off we went.  Sounds like a lot of time?  40 minutes tops.  I could be dreaming, but it wasn’t too very long. I didn’t time it.  Here’s the drill for

Harissa Lamb Chops with CousCous and Sauteed Vegetables  serves 4

1.  Roast 2 red peppers under the broiler or grill them until they’re blistered.  No sunscreen needed.  Place them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 10 minutes.  Meantime, in a skillet, toast 1 t ea whole cumin, coriander and caraway seeds.  Keep the heat low and stir occasionally.   When they smell really good, but aren’t burnt, grind them in a coffee grinder you’ve cleaned.  Into the food processor, throw in a couple of cloves of chopped garlic (trust me, it won’t get it chopped as finely as you’d like; chop it first), the ground spices, and 1/2 a chopped jalapeno-minus seeds and membranes. This sauce will be medium-hot.  If you want it mild, use 1/4 jalapeno.  If you want it ha-ha-ha-HOT, use the whole jalapeno. Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and a big pinch each salt and pepper.  Squeeze in the juice of a whole lemon.  Whirr this mixture up really well by pulsing several times.  When the peppers are “done,” peel the blistered skins away, rolling them in a big towel and peeling afterward, and throw them in the food processor.  Pulse until the vegetables are about like apple sauce.   Taste this and decide if you need more salt, more heat, more acid, etc.  Adjust accordingly.  Set this aside while you grill the chops and fix the rest of the dinner. (Easier:  Used jarred peppers and already ground spices.  Easiest: you can buy a jar of harissa.)

Just a note on the heat of harissa.  I do not like terribly hot things; I’m more interested in spices and flavor.  I made my harissa with 1/4 of a jalapeno and, when I tasted it all by itself, it  still seemed pretty hot.  Once I added it to my chop, however, it tasted much milder.  I added Tabasco.  So remember that the sauce dumbs down with the meat.  Sort of like once you take marinara and put it all over a plate of pasta.  You might want to try it out with something else ahead of time.

2.  Set the table and light the grill if you haven’t done that yet.  Wait while the grill heats (sing your favorite song)  or grill the  6-8 lamb chops (Oil, salt and pepper them first.) Throw them on a hot fire to sear for one minute on each side.  Remove to spot that’s not so hot or turn down flame and cook for another 3 minutes or so on each side for medium- medium rare.   If you want them rare, just cook on a hot fire for 2 minutes on each side.  I think lamb is best medium to medium-rare, but you don’t have to trust me.  If you want it bloody, have it bloody.   Remove chops to a medium-sized platter and cover with foil for five minutes before serving.  Have to leave them there  for 15 while you cook the sides?  Not to worry; they’ll be great at room temp.   In fact, they’re damned good stone cold out of the frig tomorrow if you really get involved in something else.  You could even throw them in a skillet with your eggs. —  Ok, you’re eating them tonight, so just partially uncover so they don’t cook and steam to bits.) 

One important thing.  If you don’t have friends invited to eat these, you won’t be able to chew the bones.  So don’t invite the new boss.  Invite people you know and love.  The bones are what it’s about.

3.  Cous Cous?  Buy a package…And!  Before following the directions on the package, put a tablespoon of olive oil in the bottom of a 2qt saucepan and cook up 1/4 c chopped onion and 1/4 black or golden raisins with a little salt and pepper.  Add the water and seasonings (I like the olive oil and garlic variety of cous cous) as the package directs and throw in the couscous when the water boils.  Turn off and let sit  covered for 5 minutes.

4.  Meantime (or earlier if you’re that way)  peel and chop an eggplant 1-2″ pieces.  Cut up a zucchini and a yellow squash into 1-2″ pieces.  Ditto 2 medium sweet peppers, red and yellow or orange (no green.)  Ditto 1 medium purple onion.  Into a large skillet, pour 2-3 T olive oil and heat over medium heat.  Add veggies and season with a liberal shower of salt and pepper.  Cook for about 6 or 7 minutes and add 2 cloves of minced garlic.  Cook another 5-7 minutes until browned, crispy and tender.  Plate with the CousCous and add a lamb chop.  Top with harissa.  Smile.  All of you.
Wine:  Try a light rose on the edge of sweetness…maybe even a big riesling.  Reds just don’t mix with the heat of the harissa.  Of course, I had to have my own way with the wine and drank red regardless.  Bad me.
Some folks would go the route of beer.  Some would drink sweet tea.  Makes sense.
Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the Hood or in my Heart, Including
What’s in my frig?
We hiked the Crags. Phew.  Temps from 70’s that dropped to 54 when the storm arrived.  Nice day, though.   Below:  cheese and cracker lunch by the stream:

Dave picking the cherries.  Not as many as I’d have liked.
A new toy for Dave.
Heather spends the night and helps me cook.  The dogs want to help.
Our once a year rain arrived and we couldn’t grill.

So we made it inside.  Where we…
Grilled chicken. Grilled Eggplant. Grilled Tomatoes.
 Made Whole Wheat Linguine.  Tore off  Big peels of Parmesan and Chopped Basil.
Try it. 
—————————–
While we cooked:
Not sure what they did, but I’m sure they did it.
Just finished reading  THE MERMAID CHAIR by  Sue Monk Kidd.  What a story…  Guess I missed it when it was published in ’05.  This was our book club book for July.  Thanks, ladies, for a great discussion. 
I’m playing:  “Feels Like Home”  by Randy Newman…
A lot of the Iona Worship Book…
I’m listening to:  George Winston playing Vince Guaraldi.
Recipe spots I’m tuned in to lately:   NYTimes on Wednesdays or online (Follow on Twitter)
All of Tyler Florence’s books
ad hoc at home
SILVER PALATE (the gift that keeps on giving)
my own brain as the produce comes
Dorie Greenspan’s blog
Chocolate and Zucchini blog
David Lebovitz’ blog
Ina Garten when I have time to watch
What’s on my counter? 
California peaches
Yellow and orange tomatoes
Plums
Lemons
Leftover grilled eggplant from lunch
Shallots
Garlic
Purple onions
New potatoes
3 kinds of vinegar
2 kinds of olive oil
Kosher salt
Sea salt
2 kinds of pepper
2 kinds of honey
Cochetti zin (3/4 of a bottle)
What’s in my frig?
Strawberries
Grapes
Blueberries (Just froze 2 gallons for winter)
Watermelon
Parsley-both kinds
Whole carrots
Celery
Baby carrots
Lettuce that needs to be composted, but we can’t compost.
We have bears.
Greek salad I made this morning for lunch
Leftover fruit from breakfast already cut
Greek yogurt-a couple of different kinds
Leftover turkey burger w/ colby cheese
Tillamook extra sharp white cheddar cheese
Goat’s cheese
Leftover pizza from Mollica’s
La Baguette whole wheat and 7grain bread
Boiled eggs
Cold Washington State Riesling
Leftover red wine for cooking
Pomegranate juice
Limes
It was 95 degrees today.  I think dinner can be found out of the mess above, don’t you?
Sing a new song; eat leftovers
Alyce
Lamb-Italian Sausage Stew

Lamb-Italian Sausage Stew

 

My favorite stew—–It might be yours, too!

The weather has gone from autumn brilliant:


to frozen solid with all of the leaves on. We’ve had three lynx on our back deck (I got only one horrible pic), as well as these gorgeous bucks

trying to get something to eat through the ice. One wants to know why I’m taking pictures off the ice rink of an upper deck. We spent a couple of lovely days at home working on projects and enjoying cooking time. Ice, ice!

Today’s blog is actually not totally from that cooking weekend, though we began it with a Friday night version of this lovely, original stew, layered with some rice topped with chiffonade of basil and a tish black pepper: I even added some carrots to round the stew out.   Another night, we had it with pasta.

I do apologize for the picture, but you get the idea. This is a full-bodied, hearty lamb stew that you could make

1. in the crock-pot,
2. on the stovetop or
3 in the oven if you so choose.

You can eat it just like it is in deep bowls, adding some baguette for dipping. Or, you can freeze a few containers and have them with rice or pasta some other week. Totally up to you.

LAMB/ITALIAN SAUSAGE STEW
–Can sub beef or pork for lamb (but I wish you wouldn’t)
6-8 servings

In microwave oven or stove, cook 2 c dry white beans, one large onion, halved (keep skin on), 4 cloves of garlic with papers, 3 sprigs of rosemary and a teaspoon of freshly-ground pepper (no salt) in 2qts water, covered, until nearly tender. (Dry beans cook wonderfully in the micro.) Drain beans, remove vegetables and herbs. Set aside.  (If you choose to use canned beans (drained), add them in for the last hour of cooking in the crock-pot.)

In large skillet, brown 2# lean lamb, cubed and 4 Italian sausage links, cut into chunks.

Here, I cooked the meat in two pans at once (left and right) to hasten the process.

Add 2 c chopped onion, 1 c chopped celery, 2-4 cloves crushed garlic, 1 t each rosemary, thyme. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Cook 5-7 minutes until onion is becoming limp and translucent.

In 6qt. crock-pot, combine drained beans, meat and veggies. Add 2qt. beef stock , 1 32 oz can chopped tomatoes and 1 c red wine.*


Cook on low 6-8 hours. Make sure beans are tender before serving. Taste to adjust seasonings.

Alternately:  Cook on the stove top.  Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, cover and let cook until everything is tender–about an hour and a half.  Don’t overcook.

Serve w/ crusty bread and the rest of the bottle of red wine. An inexpensive French Cote du Rhone or even a lighter Italian red would be great. Any red would do in a pinch. We have enjoyed Pinot Noir with this meal. (Of course.)

A note on the meat: I use boneless leg of lamb for this stew and there is plenty left to do some lamb kabobs the next day if you have bought a whole leg.  Alternate onion and lamb on soaked skewers. Brush with olive oil and dust with garlic salt and oregano. Grill until medium rare. Serve with a side of cucumbers and dill in yogurt.

I have also used Lamb top round, which cooks a bit too quickly for this stew.  Stick with the leg or shoulder if you can.

Turkey Italian Sausage can be subbed for the pork sausage. If you use turkey, do not cook it all day in the crockpot. Just brown it and add it right before serving.

*This is a great method for altitude cooking.  If you live at sea level, or near it, you can just cook the beans half-way before adding them.


This is one of my very favorite stews and certainly a favorite recipe. I heard the words lamb and beans one day and this is what transpired.

There must be a special blessing for eating lamb; it’s so tasty, homey and still elegant. Think of one and post it? We are always so incredibly grateful for such stomach-warming dishes. Particularly when it snows ice for hours on end. Brr.

… … … … … … … … …

Meantime, the weather has broken a tad and I’m in the middle of baking loaf after loaf of pumpkin bread. Pumpkin is a little scarce this year, but I got enough for my bread and for the Thanksgiving pies. Yes, it’s coming!

I’m traveling the next few days. I will put up something new if I can, but might have to wait until early next week. Include me in your prayers for travel mercies?

Sing a new song…
Alyce
additional pictures added Feb, 2013