Sunday, March 20, 2005

Cooked Curried Lamb with Rice

from the Joy of Cooking

1 cup onions, sliced
1/2 cup celery, sliced
2 medium-sized apples, cored, peeled and sliced

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a saute pan. Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon curry powder. Add the onions and apples and saute until the onions are tender. Remove onions and apples from the pan.

Now brown 2 cups sliced leftover cooked lamb in the pan. Remove them to a platter.

Stir 2 teaspoons flour into any pan juices in the pan.

Slowly stir in 1 cup leftover lamb stock (add water to stock to make 1 cup).

When sauce is smooth and boiling, add onions, apples and meat.

Stir in 1 tablesppon lemon juice. Correct the seasoning, and serve with steamed or boiled rice.

Serves 4

Jacques' Roast Leg of Lamb

from Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home

Jacques: A whole untrimmed leg of spring lamb (domestic lamb is the best) usually weighs anywhere from 6 to 8 pounds. You can choose the size appropriate for your party, and prepare it as explained in the recipe. The most important step in preparing lamb, however, is removing the fat. The assertive taste that some people find objectionable in lamb is always in the fat, and when it is mostly trimmed away before roasting, they are surprised at how mild it tastes. For the same reason, it is important to pour off as much of the fat in the roasting pan as possible before you make your sauce and, if you are making lamb stock, to defat it well. When the leg is well trimmed of fat, you can also roast the lamb at a higher temperature, as I do here, and even a large leg will roast to rare in about an hour or a bit more. I like to turn the leg once while it's in the oven, and then there's no need for basting. If you prefer, you can baste the roast once or twice with the pan juices, instead of turning it. I remove the lamb when it is still quite rare--at an internal temperature of 125 to 130--but you can roast it to a higher temperature if you like. In any case, allow the meat to rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.

1 whole untrimmed leg of lamb, weighing about 6 pounds with shank and pelvic bone (trimmed of pelvic bone and most fat, about 4 3/4 pounds)
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, stripped off the stem
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups lamb stock (recipe below)
3/4 cup white wine

Remove the pelvic bone from the lamb (this is the bone at the tope of the leg bone), and then remove all of the fat. Scrape the shank bone clean for about 2 to 3 inches so that you have something to hang on to when you carve (called "Frenching").

Chop the garlic cloves coarsely. Pour 1 teaspoon of salt on top of the garlic and mash to a paste with the flat of the knife, then chop together with the rosemary leaves until they are finely minced.

Thrust the tip of a sharp, thin-bladed knife into the thick top of the leg, about 1 inch deep. Push about 1/2 teaspoon of the seasoning paste into the slit with your finger. Make a dozen or more such incisions in the meaty parts of the leg, both top and underside, and fill with the seasoning. Rub any remaining paste over the boneless sirloin end of the leg.

The leg can now be roasted, or refrigerated for several hours or overnight, to allow the seasoning to permeate the meat.

Roasting and Resting

Preheat the oven to 400 , arrange a rack in the lower third of oven.

Just before roasting, sprinkle 3/4 teaspoons alt and 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper over both sides of the leg. Set it on the roasting pan topside up.

Roast the leg for about 30 minutes, then turn the roast over, grasping it by the shank bone (with a thick towel or pot holder to protect your hands). Continue roasting for another 30 minutes or so--1 1/4 hours total, depending on the size of the leg--until the internal temperature of the meat is about 125 to 130 when measured at the thickest part.

Remove the leg to a carving board or platter and res--topside up--for 20 minutes, allowing the meat to relax and reabsorb the natural juices.

Meanwhile, de-glaze the roasting pan to make a simple sauce. Tilt the pan and pour off as much of the fat as possible. Place it over medium heat, pour in 3/4 cup of the stock and 3/4 cup white wine, and bring to a simmer, stirring and scraping up the browned glaze in the bottom of the pan. Strain the sauce into a bowl and add any juices released by the resting meat. Reserving remaining stock for Cooked Curried Lamb (see recipe).

Carving and Serving the Roast

Carve by slicing into the top of the roast and cutting toward the shank, holding the knife blade at a flat angle. Remove the first slice and start the next cut a bit farther away from the shank, again slicing through the top and toward the shank. Continue slicing off the top of the roast, arranging the slices on the serving platter. Drizzle the pan juices over before serving.

Quick Lamb Stock with One Bone

Place the pelvic bone that you remove from the whole leg and any trimmed meat in a sauce pan with 1 medium peeled onion, 1 bay leaf, and 4 cups of water. Bring to a steady simmer, skim any foam that rises to the top, and cook for 1 1/2 hours. The stock will reduce as it cooks, but add water to keep bones covered at all times. Strain the stock and skim off as much fat as possible (if you have time, chill the stock and remove the congealed fat completely). In a small saucepan, reduce the defatted stock over high heat until only 1 1/2 cups remain. Use to de-glaze the roasting pan as in the recipe.

Serve with Ragout of White Beans (see recipe).

Serves 8 to 10

Jacques' Ragout of White Beans

from Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home

Jacques: Beans are a perfect canvas or carrier, for the flovors of whatever you cook with them. At home, we love to put a piece of portk--a pork shoulder or a ham hock--right into the beans to cook, along with a bay leaf and some thyme. You could do the same thing with a pork chop, or just a piece of ham. And beans are delicious when flavored with poultry--cook them with the carcass from a roast chicken or turkey. Or put in some onions and carrots and a package of chicken necks and you have a tasty stew for six people for very little money. For a dish like this one, I would not soak the beans before cooking. These common small white beans grown in this country, have usually been harvested and dried just in the preceding year and consequently are not that hard. They will cook relatively fast without soaking, and you can always add more liquid and extend the cooking until they are completely done. You want to strain out the liquid here so the dish is more like a stew than a soup. If you are making the beans to serve with a roast leg of lamb, you could take this reserved bean liquid, which is already slightly syrupy, and use it to deglaze the roasting pan. You'll have a naturally thick and delicious sauce.

1 pound Great Northern means, soaked or not as you wish
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 ouces lean pancetta, diced into 1/4 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
3 tablespoons peeled and thinly sliced garlic
2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1/4 freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons choped parsley, for garnish

Drain beans, if you have soaked them, or wash them and put them in the pot with 6 cups fresh cold water (8 cups if not soaked) and the salt. Bring to a boil and simmer gently, partially covered. After 40 minutes of cooking, taste several beans to check for doneness--you want them all to be tender to the bit but not mushy. Simmer longer if necessary.

White the beans are cooking, heat the olive oil in the frying pan. Add the pancetta pieces, toss to coat with oil, and cook for a couple of minutes over moderate heat. Stir in the onions, garlic slices, thyme, and pepper and cook over moderately low heat for about 10 mintues, stirring and tossing frequently, until the onions and garlic are soft. Set aside.

When the beans are nearly tender, stir in the sauteed flavorings and return to the simmer. Cook, partially covered over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 20 mintues, or until the beans are fully cooked and soft.

Remove from heat. Strain or ladle out any liquid covering the beans.

Just before serving, sprinkle chapped parsley over the beans.

Do-ahead Notes

The bean ragout can be made up to 2 or 3 days ahead; let it cool, then cover and refrigerate. Reheat slowly for serving, using some of the reserved liquid to moisten the ragout, which may thicken on standing.

Makes 5 to 6 cups.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Roasted Tomatoes with Shrimp and Feta

Courtesy of Heidi & Joe

from Real Simple

5 large tomatoes, cut into eighths
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup Feta, crumbled

Preheat oven to 450° F. Place the tomatoes in a large baking dish. Spoon the olive oil and garlic over the tomatoes. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and toss. Place on top rack of oven and roast for 20 minutes. Remove baking dish from oven and stir in the shrimp, parsley, and lemon juice. Sprinkle with the Feta. Place back in oven for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the shrimp are cooked. Serve warm with crusty bread.

Serves 6

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Little Zucchini Boats

I invented this as a quick side-dish.

4 zucchini, sliced in half and hollowed out (about 1/4 inch)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 cup minced scallions
1 cup coarsely chopped mushrooms
1 large tomato, cut into pieces (or cherry tomatoes, cut in half)
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil (6 teaspoons)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Place zucchini boats in a jelly-roll pan, sprayed with Pam. Salt them lightly, and drizzle with 2 teaspoons of the oil. Bake zucchini boats in a 400 degree oven for about 10 to 15 minutes until slightly softened.

Meanwhile, mix the mushrooms and tomatoes together and toss with 2 teaspoons of the oil and a little salt and pepper, and in a separate bowl, toss the bread crumbs with remaining 2 teaspoons of oil and sprinkle over top.

When the zucchini are softened, remove from oven and fill with tomato-mushroom mixture, letting the excess spill out to the sides. Sprinkle on bread crumb mixture and top with grated cheese.

Raise heat to 435 degrees, and return zucchini boats to oven until bread crumbs brown and zucchini are tender (about 10 minutes).

Serves 4

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