Giving Lamb Legs

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The gleaming, massive lamb shank on these pages, impressive though it may be, is not the most effective way to serve what amounts to the shin and ankle of a lamb.

It’s glorious, for sure, but it has a number of disadvantages, the first of which is that a small-to-moderate lamb shank weighs in at more than a pound, a nice serving size in the ’70s (or the Middle Ages) but a bit macho for most of us these days. The second is that it’s difficult to cook — size alone makes it awkward, and penetration of flavors is an issue. It’s difficult to eat. And finally, that same graphic quality that makes for such a gorgeous photo reminds some people more of its source than they’d like.

Besides, I’ve slowly begun to realize that my most successful lamb dishes were made from what was left over from a meal of lamb shanks. A couple of months ago, when braising season began, I cooked two sizable lamb shanks and, of course, enjoyed them. But I really got into it over the following couple of nights when I wound up using them to create a marvelous ragù and then transformed the ragù into a lamb-tomato-bean stew that could not have been much better.

Read the rest of the column and get the recipes here.

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Today Show: Perfect Rack of Lamb

Making rack of lamb for the holidays? Here are three ideas for what to put on top.

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The Minimalist: Rack of Lamb with Pimenton

This is a fantastic take on rack of lamb with persillade (and the pimenton-garlic bread crumbs are almost a dead ringer for crumbled chorizo.)

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Sunday (or Monday) Supper: Grilled or Broiled Leg of Lamb

Start with my Grilled Lebanese Flatbread from this week’s Minimalist, add grilled or broiled leg of lamb and a minty yogurt sauce, and you’ve got one seriously good Sunday (or Labor Day) Supper. Adapted from How to Cook Everything.

Grilled or Broiled Butterflied Leg of Lamb

Makess: At least 6 servings

Time: About 40 minutes

There’s really little point in grilling a bone-in leg of lamb, especially since butterflied leg is now often sold in supermarkets. It’s not cheap, but it’s not that expensive either, and it’s delicious, tender, and easy to cook. Even the uneven thickness is an asset: Cook the thickest parts to rare and you also get meat that is cooked to medium, which is still quite moist and tender, so everyone’s happy.

One to 3- to 4-pound butterflied leg of lamb

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves or 2 teaspoons dried rosemary

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Minced fresh parsley leaves for garnish

Lemon wedges for serving

1. Heat a charcoal or gas grill or the broiler until quite hot and put the rack at least 4 inches from the heat source. (Delay this step until you’re just about ready to cook if you choose to marinate the meat.) Trim the lamb of any excess fat. Mix together the olive oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, and some salt and pepper; rub this mixture well into the lamb, being sure to get some into all the crevices. If you have the time, let the lamb sit for at least an hour (refrigerate if it will be much longer).

2. Grill or broil the meat (best done in a roasting pan with a rack) until it is nicely browned, even a little charred, on both sides, about 20 to 30 minutes; the internal temperature at the thickest part will be about 125°F; this will give you some lamb that is quite rare and some that is nearly well done. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing thinly, as you would a thick steak. Garnish and serve with lemon wedges.

 

Minty Yogurt Sauce

Makes: 1 cup

Time: 3 minutes

1 cup yogurt, preferably whole milk

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/4 chopped fresh mint

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Freshly squeezed lemon juice if necessary

1. Combine the yogurt with the garlic, mint, a pinch of salt, and a grinding or two of pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding some lemon juice if necessary.

2. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to a few hours; bring back to near room temperature before serving.

 

 

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