Spring Lamb Stew

June 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

For the past six weeks I’ve been gloriously shopping at the local farm stands and I can’t wait for the open-air Farmer’s Market to start!

Farm fresh baby veggies for Spring Lamb Stew

I have been experimenting with various locally grown baby vegetables for weeks now and my favorite recipe so far is for Spring Lamb Stew. What comes to mind when many people think about lamb stew is a rich hearty broth that has been braising in the oven for hours but that just isn’t necessary. Lamb stew doesn’t need to be reserved for cold winter months. For this recipe I utilize the fresh spring crop vegetables and tender chunks of lamb leg meat to create a light, fresh flavored stew.

Spring Lamb Stew

NOTE ABOUT CUTS OF LAMB: I tried various cuts of lamb for this recipe – shoulder, neck, and boneless leg. Although less expensive, I found the shoulder and neck cuts gamier in flavor. I generally like lamb leg meat cooked medium to medium rare but for this stew the cut allowed me to cook the stew quickly (about 45 minutes to brown meat and I used par cooked veggies) and still produce tender chunks of meat.

2-3 lbs. Lamb leg, cut into 1 to 1½ inch cubes
3 large cloves (about 2 Tbls.) Garlic, chopped
1 Tbls. Worcestershire Sauce
Salt and Pepper
5-6 cups “Spring Vegetables” par cooked if they need more than 5 minutes to cook

Example of vegetables that could be used: Green Peas, Fava Beans, Young White or Red Turnips, Carrots, Baby Beets, Parsnips, Sugar Snap Peas, Garlic Scapes, etc. (see example in chart below)

For this recipe I used the following vegetables and par cook times:

1 ½ cups Green Peas Do not need to par cook
1 ½ cups Young White Turnip 3 minutes
1 ½ cups Carrots 3 minutes for whole baby carrots. Do not need to par cook if sliced small
1 cup Baby Beets, sliced in half or quarter and 3 cups of the Beet Greens, chopped 5 minutes for baby beets. Do not need to par cook beet greens

18-24 Pearl Onions, red or white, peeled
3 cups Baby Potatoes, cut in half or quarter, and par-cooked for 10 minutes
2 Tbls. Olive Oil
½ cup light red or white wine*
2 Tbls. Sage, fresh chopped
1 tsp. Rosemary, fresh chopped
3 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth

* A red wine will develop into a richer flavor in this stew but stay with a light red. I used a light Rioja for this recipe. White wine can also be used and will develop into a very light fresh taste that enhances the sweetness of the vegetables. Again, stick to a light white. I’ve use a light Pinot Grigio in the past.

PAR COOK VEGGIES: Bring a large pot water to a boil. Assess which vegetables bleed in color (like beets) or have a strong flavor (like pearl onions).

Farm fresh baby veggies for Spring Lamb Stew

Cook the vegetable that bleeds in color second to last and the pearl onions last. Par cook vegetables separately in hot water, lifting vegetables out with a slotted spoon when cooked and cooking the next vegetable.

New potatoes for Spring Lamb Stew

Sliced red, golden, and purple new potatoes

For example, using the vegetables noted in the chart above: Cook turnips for 3 minutes then remove with slotted spoon. Let water return to boil and cook carrots for 3 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and put beets in water when it returns to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Last, place pearl onions in water for 30 seconds (no more or they will get too soft). Just the pearl onions need to be rinsed in cold water or placed in an ice water bath. Peel outer skin of the onion by cutting the ends and pinching the center of the onion out.

Farm fresh baby veggies for Spring Lamb Stew

The vegetables can be prepared to this point in advance and set aside until ready to cook stew.

NOTE: For good directions on how to peel pearl onions check out http://startcooking.com/blog/202/How-to-Peel-Pearl-Onions

PREPARE STEW: Heat 2 Tbls. oil in a heavy saucepan. Brown the lamb on high heat. If necessary, brown the meat in 2-3 batches so each piece browns nicely. When all the meat is browned, return the meat to the pan and add pearl onions. Lower heat to medium-high and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add wine and continue stirring for 1 minute. Add all the vegetables (except the beet greens), rosemary and sage. Stir until everything is mixed evenly. Add chicken broth and bring to a full boil. Boil uncovered for 8 minutes. Add beet greens and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Spring Lamb Stew

Serve as a one-pot-meal or with a nice crusty bread.

For those of you who are like me and like to have an old fashion printed copy of recipes, the below link is to a PDF (minus photos to keep it on one page).

Spring Lamb Stew.pdf

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Grilled Lamb Leg (boneless)

April 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

I know many people enjoy it but I never could understand why people have mint jelly with lamb. To me, it seemed like serving ketchup with fillet mignon – you really shouldn’t need a condiment. The earthy flavor of lamb should be enhanced with fresh herbs and seasoning.

This recipe adds a subtle fruity flavor to the traditional garlic and rosemary herbs used to season lamb. Flattening a boneless lamb leg also speeds up the cooking time. Season the meat overnight and it can be grilled under 30 minutes.

For information about the difference between American and Australian/New Zealand lamb see my blog for Lamb Shanks with White Beans and Gremolata.

Grilled lamb leg, boneless

NOTES: This recipe is prepared on a Weber gas grill with three horizontal burners and a temperature gauge on the cover. You may need to adjust the cooking method if you are using a different burner configuration or if you are using a coal or wood fueled grill. I did not use an internal meat thermometer, simply because I don’t have one, so I could not note the meat temperature in this recipe. The lamb in this recipe is prepared “medium” – evenly pink throughout the meat.

4 lbs. Lamb Leg, boneless
2 Tbls. Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tbls. Orange Juice
2 Tbls. Olive Oil
1 Tbls. Balsamic Vinegar
2 tsp. Lemon Juice
1 Tbls. Tomato Paste
1 Tbls. Garlic, chopped
1 Tbls. Flat Leaf Parsley, fresh chopped
2 tsp. Rosemary, fresh chopped
¼ tsp. Black Pepper, fresh ground

PREPARE LAMB: In most cases, when purchasing boneless lamb leg, it will be tied with string or held together by netting. If this is the case, remove all string or netting and open lamb so it is a thick flat fillet of meat. If necessary, slice into meat so it will lay fairly flat. The meat should be about 3-inches thick (if it is thinner, adjust grilling times). Try to keep the thickness even so it will cook consistently. If there is a layer of fat on the outer side of the meat, leave a thin layer, about 1/8-inch. Too much fat may cause the grill to flare and char the meat but too little will make the meat a little dry. Place the meat in a rectangular pan that will allow the meat to lay flat or place meat in a Ziplock bag. Set aside in refrigerator while mixing marinade.

MARINADE: In a bowl, combine all the ingredients except the lamb.

Grilled lamb marinade

Mix well and pour onto meat, being sure to cover all surfaces. Let meat marinate for at least one hour to overnight.

Grilled lamb leg, boneless

NOTE: The piece of lamb photographed in this blog is 2 lbs (half a lamb leg) but this recipe is written based on preparing a full leg, approximately 4 lbs.

GRILL: Turn the grill onto high heat, covered, until the grill temperature reaches 400°. Brush a thin layer of vegetable oil onto grill to prevent meat from sticking. Place the lamb onto grill, fat side (outer side of the meat) down first. Turn the center burner to the lowest heat setting and turn the side burners to medium. Maintain a grill temperature of 375°. Cook with the grill covered for 7 minutes. Check half way through cooking to make sure fat is not causing meat to char too much. If it is, lower heat or cook with lid open for a short time. Turn meat over and continue to cook with the cover closed for 14 minutes. Continue to maintain a grill temperature of 375°. Remove the meat to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for 10 minutes.

Grilled lamb leg, boneless

Cut the meat into ¼-inch slices. Serve while still hot.

Grilled lamb leg, boneless

SERVING RECOMMENDATIONS: Try my recipe for Smashed Potatoes or if you want something very simple, try boiling small potatoes for 15-20 minutes, drain, coat them with olive oil, salt and pepper. Serve the potatoes as is or prepare them in advance and put them on the grill next to the lamb to warm them up.

For those of you who are like me and like to have an old fashion printed copy of recipes, the below link is to a PDF (minus photos to keep it on one page).

Grilled Lamb Leg (boneless).pdf

Three Rose Marinade (for Lamb Chops or Cornish Hen)

February 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

Roses for Valentine’s Day is wonderful but even better if you can eat them. Well, not really eat them because you just don’t know what has been sprayed on them. So instead I offer a recipe using rosemary, rose peppercorns, and rose water.

This is a recipe I developed quite a while ago when I first saw the movie, Like Water for Chocolate. As I sat there in the dark movie theater, the cooking-nerd in me thought, “Wow! Can you really cook with roses?” For those who have seen the movie, you can probably guess which scene inspired my culinary creativity . For those who have not seen the movie I’ll just say that I hope this recipe will invoke feelings of pleasure and excitement…

NOTE: Updated this page on March 8th – corrected typo in PDF and added two photos of Cornish Hen.

Three Rose Marinade (for Lamb Chops or Cornish Hen)

If using lamb rib chops, slice each steak with two ribs so the meat is about 1 ¼ to 1 ½ inches thick.  This will help keep the chops medium to medium rare. Lamb Kidney Chops (looks like a mini T-bone steak) are generally sliced thick. This marinade also works well with Cornish Hens. Split each hen in half (neck to tail).

1 ¼ to 2 lb Lamb Rib or Kidney Chops or 2 Cornish Hens, split
2 Garlic Cloves, chopped
2 tsp. Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Rosemary, fresh chopped
½ tsp. Rose Peppercorns, ground
dash Cloves, ground
¼ tsp. Salt
2 Tbls. Balsamic Vinegar
¼ cup Port (or Red Wine)
2 Tbls. Rose Water
¼ cup Olive Oil

Combine garlic, brown sugar, rosemary, rose peppercorns, cloves, salt, balsamic vinegar, Port, rose water, and olive oil. Mix with a fork or whisk until sugar is dissolved. Add to meat and marinate at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

IF PREPARING LAMB: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a grill pan. Sear chops on each side for about 4 minutes on medium-high heat. Alternately, chops can be cooked on an outdoor grill or broiled in the oven.

IF PREPARING CORNISH HENS: Bake hens in a preheated 350° oven for 35 minutes, basting once about 20 minutes into cooking. Alternately, the hens can be prepared on an outdoor grill. Sear skin side first, then cook bone side down at medium heat if using a gas grill or indirect heat if using coal or wood.

SERVING RECOMMENDATIONS: This recipe pairs well with roasted potatoes or rice pilaf.

SALAD RECOMMENDATION: Arugula Salad – mix baby arugula, radicchio, and Belgium endive. Top with slices of ripe but firm pear and slivers of red onion. For dressing drizzle one part Sour Pomegranate Syrup and two parts Greek (Kalamata) olive oil or one part fresh lemon juice and two parts Greek (Kalamata) olive oil. Sprinkle with fresh ground salt and pepper.

For those of you who are like me and like to have an old fashion printed copy of recipes, the below link is to a PDF (minus photos to keep it on one page).

Three Rose Marinade (for Lamb or Cornish Hen) (GF).pdf

* Gluten allergy and intolerance has become increasingly common.  I will not go into detail about the specific symptoms, causes, or differences but I will note beside the recipe titles “(GF)” for those recipes that are gluten free.  Please note that although I have labeled these recipes to be gluten free you must do your due diligence to review ingredient labels of prepared products to verify that they are truly gluten free. Also consider the side you choose to serve. In some recipes I recommend pasta or bread, which in most cases are not gluten free.

Lamb Shanks with White Beans and Gremolata

January 4, 2012 § 3 Comments

There’s nothing quite like coming into a home after being out on a cold winter day and becoming enveloped in the rich aroma of a braised roast. This dish can be a one pot meal but I usually like to have it with mashed potatoes or a crispy baguette* and a palate cleansing salad on the side.

Lamb Shanks can vary greatly in size, from a half to full pound each. In the US you have the choice of domestically raised sheep or imported from Australia and New Zealand. Those with a delicate palate can tell the difference but in general, domestic sheep tend to be a larger sheep and a little milder in flavor. Whereas Australian and New Zealand sheep tend to be smaller and more earthy flavored. The size and flavor is generally contributed to the sheep’s diet – American sheep are grain fed, thus making them larger in size and milder in flavor, where as Australian and New Zealand sheep are grass fed, making them smaller in size and giving the meat their distinctive earthy flavor. One is not better than the other, it is merely personal preference. I have used domestic and imported lamb and both provide pleasing results in this recipe.

Comments on serving: After braising for 3 hours the meat will melt off of the bone but it will usually stay on the bone until gently pulled off with your fork. I generally estimate one shank per person, although if they are a full pound per shank it will probably be more than one average person can eat. The presentation of a whole lamb leg smothered in the braised beans and veggies, sprinkled with the colorful Gremolata is simply tantalizing. But sometimes it is more practical to pull the meat off the bone and serve it like a stew. Either way, its flavor will linger on your tongue and create fond memories.

Lamb Shanks with White Beans and Gremolata

Lamb Shank, served on the bone, with mashed potatoes, and steamed French beans.  On the side is a salad of baby romaine, topped with red onion and Comice pear and a light balsamic vinaigrette.

Note: Dried herbs are listed in this recipe. If you choose to use fresh herbs adjust teaspoon measurements to tablespoons.

3-4 (about 3-3 1/2 lbs) Lamb Shanks
1 tsp. Rosemary, dried ground
1 tsp. Thyme, dried
Salt and Pepper
2 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 sm. Sweet Onion, chopped
1 Celery Stalk, chopped
2 Carrots, peeled and sliced (Shape and size is personal preference.  Baby carrots from a bag work well too.)
9 Garlic Cloves, whole (You can leave skins on, they will pop off when they are sautéed.)
1 1/2 cups Red Wine such as Côtes-du-Rhône, Cabernet Sauvignon or Chianti
2 1/2 cups Chicken Broth
3 Tbs. Tomato Paste
1 can (28 oz.) Chopped Tomatoes (Recommend San Marzano type.)
1 tsp. Thyme, dried
1 Bay Leaf
1 can (15 oz.) Cannellini Beans (White Kidney Beans)

Gremolata:

1/2 cup Flat-Leaf Parsley, fresh minced
Grated zest of 1 Lemon
Grated zest of 1 Orange
1 Garlic Clove, finely minced
1/2 tsp. each, Salt and Pepper

–Preheat oven to 325°. Rub Rosemary, Thyme, Salt, and Pepper onto Lamb Shanks. Heat 2 Tbls. Olive Oil in a Dutch Oven or heavy stove-to-oven-safe pan[1]. Be careful not to over-heat as olive oil will burn at a lower temperature than regular vegetable oil. Sear the shanks until nicely browned. Transfer to a platter.

–If there is a lot of oil in the pan, remove some, leaving about 3-4 Tbls. Sauté Onion, Celery, Carrots, and Garlic until nicely glazed, about 3-5 minutes.

Return Lamb Shanks to pan and add Red Wine and Chicken Broth. Bring to a full boil and add Tomato Paste, stirring it into the liquid until it dissolves. Add Tomatoes, Thyme, and Bay Leaf.

Cover and place into a heated 325° oven and bake for 2 hours. Add Cannellini Beans and add more liquid if needed. Continue brazing for ½ to 1 more hour (total time 2 ½ to 3 hours).

To make Gremolata: Combine Parsley, Lemon and Orange zest, Garlic, Salt, and Pepper in a bowl. Sprinkle Gremolata onto Lamb Shanks when served (amount is personal preference).

Note about Gremolata: Leftover Gremolata is great rubbed onto chicken (whole roaster, split breasts, or leg pieces).  Simply rub onto raw chicken, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake.  Another use is to saute shrimp in olive oil until just done.  Toss cooked shrimp, cooked pasta (any shape, Orzo is great too), red onion, red bell pepper, and Gremolata in a bowl.

For those of you who are like me and like to have an old fashion printed copy of recipes, the below link is to a PDF (minus photos to keep it on one page).

Lamb Shanks with White Beans and Gremolata.pdf

[1] I’ve made this recipe in a larger volume and seared the shanks in a pan but roasted in a large roasting pan covered with foil. Just be aware that the liquid may evaporate quicker so you may need to add more broth or water during the braising time.

* Gluten allergy and intolerance has become increasingly common.  I will not go into detail about the specific symptoms, causes, or differences but I will note beside the recipe titles “(GF)” for those recipes that are gluten free.  Please note that although I have labeled these recipes to be gluten free you must do diligence to review ingredient labels of prepared products to verify that they are truly gluten free. Also consider the side you choose to serve. In some recipes I recommend pasta or bread, which in most cases are not gluten free.

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