Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Easy & Impressive--Leg of Lamb

American Lamb Kebabs
Looking at the recipe index on this site, I realize I have only written one lamb recipe. That's a shame. I like lamb a lot. I think it's a well-kept secret that lamb is actually very easy to cook. I used to have a friend who made leg of lamb every time she threw a dinner party. People thought she was a fabulous cook, but really, leg of lamb was ALL she knew how to cook!

When the American Lamb Board offered to send me some local lamb I was more than happy to accept. When it arrived I was a bit overwhelmed. It was boneless leg of lamb, but over seven pounds. Fortunately I had a good friend to help guide me, master of all things meaty, Biggles over at Meathenge. His suggestion was as follows:

Why don't you try a meat puzzle? Take a look and see if you can get 2 little roasts and some kebob action out of it? 2-2 pound roasts and the rest for kebobs?

This turned out to be great advice. Indeed, it was easy to trim the fat, find the membranes and natural points at which to divide up the meat. Small roasts take a bit longer to cook than kebabs, but the marinade or spice rub you use can be exactly the same. The expert's suggestion:

Something Mediterranean. Cilantro, toasted coriander seeds, garlic, onion, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Maybe something with some heat to it? Curry? If you did that on Friday, Saturday cooking would be divine. Wine poured over as a baste? We're set.

The lamb roast of just under two pounds was marinated, then grilled slowly until the internal temperature reached just under 140 degrees. 145 degrees is rare, but if you take it off the heat before that, the carryover heat brings it up to temperature. It was a great addition to the party this past weekend

Last night, I used some of the trimmings to make lamb kebabs which cook under the broiler in minutes flat. I used a rub of dried herbs--mint, rosemary, oregano, some garlic and mustard seeds. A little oil helps the meat to brown nicely. Delicious and easy peasy. Best of all, local lamb is likely to be fresher, and fresher is tastier. Ok, I like it fresher, some like it aged and gamey. No recipes are really necessary, use a marinade or rub you like and use a thermometer to check the temperature. You can marinate overnight or just sprinkle on the herbs or spices right before cooking. Lamb is good rare, medium and well-done. It's also less common than pork or beef which makes it something special to savor at a party or for a weeknight dinner at home.