lamb roll

You might be asking yourself, “Self, what is farmhouse nigiri?”.  That’s great, I appreciate your  inquisitive nature.  This dish combines all of the best qualities of savory, country cooking (roasted lamb, risotto, chevre and red beets) with the presentation quality and finger-foodiness of sushi.  It may sound strange, but one bite and anyone will be convinced: this is excellent. 

Makes:  2 people eat lamb with chopsticks
Total kitchen time: 45 mins

Shopping list:

  • 1/2-lb butterflied leg of lamb, trimmed
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
  • 12 slices of proscuitto (yes, as you can see, this recipe also works with bacon.  Yum!)
  • 1/2 cup arborio rice
  • 1 pat butter
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 red beet, steamed and julienned
  • 2 tbsp sharp goat cheese
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • aged balsamic vinegar (for dipping)
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat your oven to 450F.  Heat a very heavy skillet (large enough for the lamb) with a lid over high heat.
  2. In a small pot, melt the butter into 1 tbsp of olive oil over high heat.  Add the rice and stir until you can smell a nutty aroma, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the white wine and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and add half of the chicken broth.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the broth has been absorbed.  Then, add the rest and repeat.
  4. Meanwhile, salt and pepper the lamb and rub with garlic and olive oil to coat.  Sear the meat on all sides in the skillet.  Reduce heat to medium and cover.  Cook, turning once, until the lamb registers 130F, about 10 minutes.  Let the lamb rest 5 minutes, then slice into thin, bite-sized pieces.
  5. Add a spoon full or two of pan drippings from the lamb into the risotto.  Take a taste, if you like. 
  6. Lay out a slice of proscuitto.  Spread a thin, even layer of risotto on the proscuitto, not quite to the edge.  Next, sprinkle on a little bit of goat cheese and a few stick of steamed beet.  Then, add a few pieces of lamb and roll the whole thing up.  Be careful not to overstuff your rolls or they won’t hold together.
  7. Place the rolls, seam side down, on a greased baking sheet and bake until the proscuitto is slightly crispy (about 5 minutes, depending on your oven).

Serve with balsamic vinegar dipping sauce and a spoonful of risotto on the side.  These will also make great hors d’oeuvres, even without the lamb!  For kicks, insist on eating them with chopsticks.

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pot roastLet’s get one thing straight: this isn’t your aunt Mildred’s pot roast.  So, throw out any images you’ve got of dry, tough meat and bland veggies.  This is a pot roast for the twenty-first century – a tour de force for red meat.  With a bit of time (and a sprig of rosemary, hardy har har) you’ll quickly appreciate the balance and sophistication of this classic dish.

Makes: 50’s housewives horny
Total kitchen time: 3.5 hours

Shopping list:

  • 1 4-5 lb beef chuck roast
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot (optional, but I include it for good mirepoix karma)
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 1 large can (28 oz) whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 1 1/2 cups tawny port (find it in the desert wine section of your grocery store.  Don’t spend more than $10 per bottle.)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat your oven to 300F.  Pat the chuck roast dry with a paper towel.  This will help the meat brown nicely.  Salt and pepper the beef with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. In a shallow bowl, cover the porcini mushrooms with boiling water and let them sit for about 15 minutes.  Roughly chop and set aside. 
  3. On the stove, heat a large, oven-proof dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid over high heat (you can adapt this recipe for a slow cooker, but a dutch oven is really ideal here).    Add the olive oil and heat until it starts to smoke.
  4. Add the beef and sear on all sides, about 2 minutes per side.  We’re not trying to cook the beef here, just to develop a delectable brown crust.  Remove the beef and let it sit on a platter until we’re ready for it again.
  5. Add the onion, celery and carrots (if you’re using ’em) and saute until they begin to brown.  Add the garlic and mushrooms and saute for another minute or so.  Your kitchen should smell really good right now.
  6. Using your bare hands, crush the tomatoes into the pot.  Be careful not to squirt tomato guts all over yourself or the police will have probable cause to search your apartment.
  7. Add the port and bring everything to a boil.  Add the beef broth and boil again. 
  8. Return the meat to the pot and nestle it as far beneath the broth and veggies as possible.  Put the lid on the pot and transfer it to the oven.
  9. Bake for 3 hours, turning once or twice to make sure everything is running smoothly. 

The meat will be so tender that it will fall apart as you plate it.  Serve atop some parmesan polenta with a big hunk of crusty bread.  Oh, and you’ll thank me the next day when you have the best leftovers of your life.

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lamb and port sauceThis is a delicious winter recipe, suitable as an elegant dinner for two, or scaled up and served for company.  Get creative with your lamb crusts – herbs, nuts, figs, sausage and breadcrumbs all make excellent choices.

Makes: One rack (about 8 ribs)
Total kitchen time: 45 mins

Shopping list:

  • 1 8-10 rib rack of lamb, frenched
  • 1 tbsp Herbs de Provence (rosemary, thyme, basil, marjoram)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp cherry preserves
  • 1/2 cup Tawny Port
  • 1 tsp dark brown sugar
  • kosher or coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Preheat your oven to 400.  On the stovetop, heat a very heavy skillet large enough to comfortably fit the rack of lamb.
  2. Pat the rack of lamb dry with a paper towel.  Salt and pepper the meat generously.  Rub on the herbs de Provence, garlic and olive oil.
  3. Sear the rack on all sides in the skillet until deep golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.
  4. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat reads 130F, about 10 minutes.  Let stand at least 5 minutes before carving.
  5. Meanwhile, combine the cherry preserves, port and brown sugar in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil and reduce, about 5 minutes.  If necessary, salt slightly to brighten the flavor of the cherries.

You’re going to love this dinner.  As soon as you’re finished, however, you’ll wish you had doubled the recipe!

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Reading time: 1 min
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