Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The lamb experiment

I probably went about this in a dumb way.  The smart way would have involved using leftovers to make the final meal, but naturally I started with the final meal in mind and therefore made leftovers without the meal to be left over from.  Sometimes I'm a bonehead what can I say?  Anyhow....

First, I bought a beautiful pot - suffice to say it's influencing my current culinary choices in a BIG way. But look at it - isn't she lovely?

Then, I did my grocery shopping on Fresh Direct, and got a wild hair that moved me to purchase lamb shank.  That is to say I THOUGHT I was purchasing a manageable sized piece of lamb that happened to be a shank.  What I GOT was a lamb leg. Things on the Internet are not as small as they appear.  OK.  Don't have a pot that big, but OK I can work with it... Oh, did I mention?  I don't actually like lamb.  Right.  Bonehead.

Then I learned to make my own mayo - see previous post.  And I happened to have some mint lying around, and voila mint mayo.  That needed something to be spread on.  Naturally.

Finally it was Glee night and I had guinea pigs (guests) so I took a shot at an experiment - chilled lamb sandwiches with mint mayo - sounds summery and fresh right?  Well OK then.

Oven to 325

Braised lamb;
Lamb preferably on the bone
fresh herbs - I used fresh rosemary, bay and sage leaves
I also tossed in a couple spoons of dried herbs de Provence - it's my favorite mix and goes well with  nearly everything.
Couple slices of chopped up bacon
One large onion, cut into pieces
olive oil
braising liquid (clear soup stock, or beer or wine or water - whatever you want to experiment with.)

In the pot you're going to use to braise, add the bacon.  Let the bacon cook until it starts to brown and the fat renders a little - add the onions, and a splash of olive oil, and stir until the onions start to get soft and a little translucent.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

Without cleaning out the residual oils, and in the same pot brown the lamb I was working with chunks the size of a large grapefruit.  Take the meat out and set aside.

Put the onions and bacon back in the pot, add the herbs and put the lamb on top of it all.  Add enough liquid to cover the lamb chunks about half way - they shouldn't be completely immersed.  I used chicken broth and water in equal measure - alternately you could use any kind of stock, or beer or wine or plain water as well!

Bring the whole kit and caboodle to a boil, then take it off of the stove and pop it into the oven.  Cooking time will depend on volume and size of the chunks of meat - using a 5 quart pot, with big chunks of meat, it took me about 2 and a half hours to get the meat where I liked it - falling off the bone.  Many people prefer lamb cooked to cooler temps - I personally don't actually like lamb I've discovered, so I just let it go until it was buttery.

When the lamb is done, I put mine into rectangular containers, and used a turkey baster to suck the juice out of the pot while bypassing the layer of floating fat.  This went straight into the fridge.

On Glee night, I purchased a massive loaf of cibatta bread - I think any kind of bread would do, that's just the one that was 'calling' to me at the grocery (even though I don't get to eat any).

I warmed the bread according to instructions on the sleeve, cut it into manageable servings and split those open.  On one side of the bread, I spread the Mint Mayo I made the night before;

then I added wild arugula dressed in balsamic vinegar and a touch of truffled olive oil.  When the lamb comes out of the fridge, it should have taken on the shape of the container (which is why I used a rectangle) and the juice from the pot should have formed a nice little aspic like jelly.  Cut the lamb into thin slices and add it to the sandwich.

Taa Daah!   Chilled lamb sandwiches with home made mint mayo!  If I could do anything I might consider making the sandwich out of left over lamb because that's what I ate the day or couple days before.  I'd also reconsider serving my guests sandwiches that are the same size as their heads, but I have to say Anthony and Matthew did a right job of cleaning their plates!

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