Happy Friday peoples!
After a long hiatus, Eat.Drink.DC is back online and ready for 2012! One of our goals of 2012 is to not only avoid the impending Mayan Apocalypse, but to also be more regular with our updates, reviews, recipes, and anything else noteworthy of sharing with you fine people. So to kickoff our new found enthusiasm for everything we love about food: let’s talk about lamb.
In case you didn’t know, February 2012 is “Lamb is for Lovers” month, and to commemorate the celebration of all things lamb, the folks at The American Lamb Board invited some local bloggers to participate in the 1st DC American Lamb Pro-Am. And what does this exactly mean?
It means that we got a 7 pound boneless leg of lamb to do something (hopefully) marvelous with. Vote for your favorite recipe here!
I arrived at Bibiana on Monday for so that I could pick up our leg of lamb and start brainstorming and game-planning. While I planned to make it a quick in-and-out visit, I was greeted warmly by Craig Rogers from Border Springs Farms in Patrick Springs, Virginia. I won’t lie to you: having shaken the hand of the shepherd that raised this fine animal was pretty nerve-racking. Not only does Craig raise the sheep that we are tasked to make something delicious with, but the man can cook too! His lamb with clams and merguez was an awesome treat (as evidenced by my using of the clam shells as a ladel-type device) and proof that the bar was set pretty high for the rest of us amateurs.
I am hoping that we did Craig and Border Springs proud with our offering. I wanted to have a simple family style dish that would be perfect for coming back inside from a chilly winter day.
Stuffed Leg of Lamb with Port-Wine Reduction with Roasted Butternut Squash Mash & Brussel Sprouts
one boneless leg of lamb (about 7lbs)
juice and zest of 2 lemons
4 ounces + 1 tablespoon of pine nuts
leaves from 2 stalks of rosemary
leaves from ½ sprig of thyme
½ cup + 1 tablespoon of golden raisins
1 head of garlic
¼ lb. of pancetta, diced & rendered
¼ teaspoon of fennel seed
1 cup port wine
1 cup beef broth
half stick of butter, cubed
Bring the lamb up to room temperature on the countertop. Set the oven to 450 degrees. Reach for your first Guinness of the evening.
Take ingredients #2 - #9 (save the pancetta renderings!), minus the extra golden raisins and pine nuts and place into a food processor. Combine into a pesto-type concoction. Transfer to a bowl and add the remaining pine nuts and raisins and fennel.
Remove the lamb from the packaging and onto your cutting board and begin to butterfly it open like a book. You want to run your knife along its edge and continue to roll one end to your right or to your left. You want to try and maintain a uniform thickness of about 1” – 1 ½” as best as you can. Once the lamb is wide open, trim off any excess fat from both sides as well as any sinew that is exposed. It’s that shiny stuff. Give the lamb book a quick rinse in the sink and pat it dry.
Take the pesto and liberally apply it to one side of the lamb. Roll it up, while trying to maintain a consistent shape; secure the roast with kitchen twine as needed.
Place roast into the oven for the first 30 minutes at 450 degrees. Reduce the heat to 325 for the remaining cooking time. You want to pull the roast once the thickest portion of it hits an internal temperature of 120 degrees.
Pay attention here and definitely invest in an instant read thermometer. You’ll want to start checking after about 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours (or about 15-20 minutes per pound). Remove roast from oven and move to one of those cutting boards with a trough.
Tent with foil while you make the reduction.
Pour off the drippings and put the pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the port wine and scrape up any bits on the pan. Once the port reduces by half, add the beef broth and reduce again by half. Add the butter, a few cubes at a time and whisk to emulsify into the sauce.
Roasted Butternut Squash Mash (assist from Megan Freedman)
one butternut squash
¼ cup golden raisins (rough chopped)
¼ pine nuts
pinch of crushed red chili flakes
zest of one lemon
pepper (to taste)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. While the oven is warming up, cut squash in half and remove the seeds. Prick each half with a fork a few times. Roast the halves until the squash is fork tender.
Remove the squash from oven and set aside to cool. While it’s cooling down, toast the pine nuts in a skillet over medium heat. When they have some color, add the golden raisins and warm them through. Remove from heat and set aside. Get your potato masher ready. And get your 2nd Guinness ready too.
Remove the squash skins and combine all of the ingredients in a bowl (minus the yogurt, cayenne, and the honey). Mash to your desired consistency. This can be made in advance of the meal and kept in the refrigerator at this point.
To Serve: Place some of the mash into a ramekin and place underneath the broiler to get some browning on top. Remove mash from ramekin and place browned-side up on the plate. Mix a little honey into the Greek yogurt and place a dollop of this on top of the mash. Sprinkle with cayenne and lemon zest.
Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta
brussel sprouts (about 6 per serving, halved)
diced pancetta (about a tablespoon per serving)
In a skillet over medium-high heat, add the pancetta pieces until they are slightly crispy. Add the brussel sprout halves. Don’t move them around too much; you want a hard sear and some caramelization on them. Rotate them to brown evenly, and add some chicken broth at the end to finish them off. About 6-8 minutes total.
To Serve: After letting the lamb rest about 20 minutes, remove the twine and slice pieces about ¾” thick. Serve with the mash and sprouts along with a drizzle of the reduction.
We hope we did right by Border Springs' fine lamb and hope that you give this recipe a whirl. Thanks again to the American Lamb Board, Fans of Lamb, and to Craig Rogers at Border Springs. See ewe all soon... Don't forget to vote!