Last week I wanted to play with a meat special or two. We are consistently offering multiple seafood specials, and they are moving out the door at a nice pace. Lamb was the perfect option. It’s more interesting that any old cut of beef off the grill, yet it’s familiar enough to draw people’s attention. I left a note to order 10 legs of lamb, when I really only wanted ten pounds. Luckily they ran small, between 2.5 and 3 pounds each. They were butchered wonderfully. They were not butterflied open and rolled up like I’ve seen in the past. The bone was cut out in a way as little of the meat was cut through as possible. The guys down at Dee Jay’s do an amazing job. The flavor profile was great as well. Very nice looking meat with little sinew or fat. I am very happy with this product and hope to find a place for it on the menu for the summer.
My first instinct was to simply roast the whole leg with some herbs, salt and lemon. It took about 40 minutes at 340 degrees to get a nice crust, but a rare inside which allowed a little leeway in re-heating the portions. I cut 6-7 oz portions to order, laying them on sizzle platters with parchment on top and a few drops of water. The platter sat of the flat top for just a few minutes to warm the meat up. We served this with either fingerling potato ‘steak fries’ or rosemary-roasted garlic whipped potatoes, sautéed Brussels sprouts, and either a cucumber-mint cream or smoked tomato vinaigrette. The end result was great. The meat was very tender, and the slow cooking rewarded us with an even doneness throughout.
After selling out of roasted lamb two days in a row it was time to mix things up! It’s been a long time since I had a nice, simple, chunky, fresh Greek salad the way my old friend Nick used to make us. I figured something so pleasantly simple would be a great base for lamb. So keeping with the Greek theme I cut up two legs into one inch dice, roughly 1oz portions and marinated it in dried oregano, black pepper, lemon zest, sea salt, lemon juice, lemon infused oil, and extra virgin olive oil. I don’t make a dressing per-se for my Greek salad, but I don’t like using straight red wine vinegar either. I make red wine syrup consisting of 1 part honey to 3 parts red wine vinegar and the slightest dusting of corn starch of which gets reduced to a loose syrup. I like to use this with olive oil over the vegetables, but the key is giving the whole thing a good hard stir, this way all the vegetables give up a little liquid to the dressing. The lamb got a hard sear for about 3 minutes in a non-stick skillet and a 2 minute rest off the heat where I squeezed a little fresh lemon juice overtop. This was an amazing meal. I don’t eat full meals very often at work, but I devoured one of these salads, and wanted more.
For this coming week I’ve begun work on a long time vision. I’ve had lamb Reuben knocking around in my head for years now, so finally it will happen. When 10 pieces of lamb where delivered last week instead of 10 pounds I knew this was my chance. I took three whole legs of lamb and started them in pickling brine for corned beef as described in Charcuterie by Ruhlman and Polcyn. (As a quick side note, I’m finding this book a true reference. I find myself referring to its pages more and more often. At first glance I wondered how relative it could be on a daily basis, but it provided a great jumping off point for a number of situations, and I can say that I’ve not been let down by any of the recipes.) The legs should be done in the brine tomorrow, Tuesday. I plan to cook them even slower than the roasted ones, an hour and a half at 325. Then cool it and slice it on the machine. I plan to use pickled red cabbage, a thick chunk of Middlefield Swiss, and a house made Thousand Island over rye of course. We will see what happens?