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Archive for the ‘Lamb’ Category

No “Mary Had a Little Lamb” song / tears in this house when we cook lamb.  Rice Kernel will try and eat at least a bite of any meat product – just like his Dad, who craves lamb more frequently than I know how to prepare it.  This recipe calls for an overnight marinade of fresh herbs and aromatics – sure to take away any “lamb” taste that puts some people off.  Rice Kernel enjoyed a small chop but admitted he wasn’t the biggest fan.  FHE ate three or four…. or five by the time we called it a night. 

Lamb Chops with Lemon, Mint, and Oregano, from Bon Appetit April 2011

Ingredients

3 large shallots, minced 6 tablespoons chopped fresh mint 6 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
6 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon sugar
24 lamb rib chops (from three 1 1/4-to 1 1/2-pound racks of lamb, cut between bones into individual chops)
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
Fresh oregano sprigs (for garnish)

Directions

  1. Mix minced shallots, chopped mint, chopped oregano, minced garlic, sugar, and 1 tablespoon salt in small bowl. Press 1 rounded teaspoon shallot-herb mixture onto eye of each lamb chop. Turn chops over onto large rimmed baking sheet. Press remaining shallot- herb mixture onto eye of each chop. Cover lamb chops with sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, and lemon peel in small bowl until slightly thickened and well blended. Season lightly with salt and generously with freshly ground black pepper. Spoon oil mixture lightly over chops. Turn chops over and spoon remaining oil mixture over. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour.
  3. Grill: Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Grill lamb chops to desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer lamb chops to platter. Garnish with fresh oregano sprigs and serve. 
  4. Stovetop: In a large pan set over medium-high heat, sear lamb chops for 1-2 minutes on each side.  Turn down heat to medium and cook an additional 3-5 minutes, until desired doneness.

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Pastitsio

Pastitsio is a Greek casserole that contains layers of pasta and chopped meat that are topped with a cream sauce.  I’ve been eyeing the recipe from Whipped, the food blog, for some time now.  My dad really enjoyed this.  Blame it on pregnancy food preferences, but I expected more from this multi-step recipe.  It was comforting and appetizing, but perhaps not worth the effort on a weeknight.  None of the steps are hard, but this is not a dish that you can throw together in minutes.  I will say, however, it is a nice alternative to lasagna. 

I used Whipped’s recipe and threw in a large eggplant, cubed, for added vegetables.  I also added some cinnamon and nutmeg into the meat mixture and lightened the cream sauce by using less butter and eggs.  I thought the cinnamon and nutmeg were particularly delicious.  I (probably importantly) didn’t have ziti or bucatini, which would have offered some nice texture to the pasta.  Food and Wine‘s version uses lamb for a different meat flavor.

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The weather has been unusually gloomy and wet and we’ve all been under the weather the last few weeks.  It sure doesn’t feel like summer inside or outside.  As a result, our palattes have been a bit off.  Rice Kernel requests “something special” (his words) for every meal.  (Translation: mango sorbet and lollipops.)  Even my typically easy-to-please husband is longing for “flavor” (his words, too).  I threw up my hands over the weekend but, with the California sun breaking through the clouds this morning, I was eager to change up our dinner menu and try my hand at some long-bookmarked recipes.

Lentil soup and lamb meatballs aren’t typical summer fare.  But bear with me.  This is a hearty and oh-so-savory dish.  The lentil soup is a meal on its own.  Full of iron and protein from the beans, the soup is a savory infusion of herbs, vegetables, and flavorful stock.  But the party doesn’t stop there.  The meatballs are aromatic and tender –  meaty with rich lamb flavor and balanced with herbs and (unexpected) ground almonds.  I can imagine they would be summer-perfect on the grill as an appetizer or stuffed into a pita or lavash, with some tomatoes, cucumbers, and feta.  For tonight, meatballs nestled in lentil soup were the perfect answer to pleas for “something special” with “flavor.”

Lentil Soup with Lamb Meatballs, from Wolfgang Puck, Adventures of the Kitchen via Je Mange la Ville
This makes 8-10 servings, so halve it if needed.

Soup
3 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped red onion
1/2 cup diced carrot
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp turmeric
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 celery stalk
1 branch fresh parsley
1 branch fresh thyme
1 pound golden lentils (or regular lentils, if not available)
10 cups chicken stock or broth (or vegetable)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Pinch chili pepper flakes
(I also added beans and peas)

Meatballs
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup milk
1 pound ground lamb
1 cup blanched almonds, toasted and ground
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup raisins, coarsely chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 teaspoon chili pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Garnish
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp honey
Pinch salt

Directions

  1. Start with the soup. In a large saucepan, heat up the olive oil. Add the onion, carrot, garlic, turmeric, and cumin. Saute over high heat until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, make a bouquet garni by tying together the celery, parsley, and thyme, and add to pan.
  2. Stir in the lentils and the chicken stock, season lightly with salt, pepper, and chili flakes, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Skim as necessary.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the meatballs and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (if you are baking the meatballs in the oven, as opposed to pan-frying).  In a small bowl, soak bread crumbs in milk.  In a mixing bowl, combine the lamb, almonds, soaked bread crumbs, onion, raisins, egg, garlic, parsley, cilantro, and chili pepper flakes.  Season lightly with salt andpepper.  Drizzle olive oil on a baking sheet.  Form meat mixture into 40 golf ball-size meatballs, each approximately 1-inch in diameter.   At this point, you can bake the meatballs in the oven for 15-20 minutes or cook them in a skillet for 8-10 minutes, until browned and firm to the touch.
  4. Now, return to the soup. Remove the celery bouquet. With an immersion blender, lightly blend soup (you want it to still be a little chunky).  Alternatively, transfer 2/3 of the soup to a blender. Blend until smooth and return to the saucepan.  Adjust seasonings to taste.  Ladle soup into 8 or 10 soup bowls. Divide the meatballs evenly among the soup bowls.

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