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Mint Spiced Lamb Breast with Skordalia

Mint Spiced Lamb Breast with Skordalia


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There are no binds that can confine an intuitive cook. I am very apologetic because the heart cannot spin a soliloquy grand enough to be heard above the torture of the television’s song.

I wonder if perhaps my friend Ken has taken the precaution to live without television in an effort to hear his heart without any impediment. Then again he is just probably too lazy to lug it up 5 flights of stairs in New York City. Once I was cooking with friend at the James Beard house and I stopped lugging myself by the 3rd floor of our elevator-less hotel. Regardless of which side of romanticism we stand on can any of us really blame Ken?

Once we free ourselves from the couch and clear our minds with the smell of the seasons, we can really commit to the self-gratification that we deserve. I did not walk into the grocer with this recipe in mind. It presented itself and the intuition of my open heart told me to desire and acquire it. Cooking with the seasons is not a new concept that Jamie Oliver created. It is exactly the way things were before tomatoes had been modified to sell in December. I would even jest to propose the next time any of us go to a café that is selling an unadulterated raw tomato salad in December, we shall order it and throw it across the dining room. If there is a gentleman wearing linen there, then throw it at him and kill 2 birds with one stone. I got your Food Revolution right here Oliver.

Ingredients

3-3 1/2# of lamb breast

2T garlic cloves

1t ground coriander

1 1/2t ground cumin

1t cinnamon

1t ground ginger

1 1/2t red pepper flakes

1t Kosher salt

½ bunch of flat leaf parsley

1c mint leaves

1/2c extra virgin olive oil

2 lemons

2# baby potatoes

1c white wine

For the Skordalia

1 russet potato peeled and quartered

1/4c onion sliced

3 garlic cloves

1/3c extra virgin olive oil

¾-1c water

Directions

Take the garlic, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, red pepper, salt, parsley, mint, oil and the zest only of the 2 lemons and place it into a food processor. Process the mixture until a nice paste is created. Lay your lamb breast into a roasting pan and spread the mint spice paste evenly over the breast. Let the spice mixture massage the meat in your refrigerator overnight.

To make the Skordelia: Place the potato and onion into a properly salted pot of water and cook until the potato is tender. Drain the potato, reserving a cup of the liquid and place it into your cleaned food processor along with the garlic, the juice from one of the left over lemons, olive oil, and reserved potato broth. Process the Skordelia until it is smooth. Taste and add any salt needed. Go ahead and make a day ahead just to keep your hand free to make some cocktails during the final preparation of the lamb.

To cook the lamb, remove it from the refrigerator and pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees. Using a dinner fork as your tool, impale the baby potatoes a few times. Make a sufficient mattress of potatoes and lay the lamb breast on them in a roasting pan. Pour the cup of wine into the pan and cover the pan with some foil. Place the roasting pan into your oven and cook for 2 ½ hours. Make a few cocktails too keep the heat of the pending summer at bay. Remove the foil from the pan and cook for an additional 30 minutes with a raised heat of 375 degrees. Take the pan out of the oven and let the meat rest for as long as your constitution will allow. Cut a few of the lamb ribs from the breast and serve with a fine dollop of the Skordelia and a few of the potatoes bathed in the drippings of the lamb. Be sure not to wash your hands that night. One of mornings great pleasures is the aroma of lamb fat and mint still lingering from your fingers.


Spiced lamb pizza with onion, mint and sumac

Emma Knowles fast recipe for spiced lamb pizza with onion, mint and sumac.

Spiced lamb pizza with onion, mint and sumac

Ingredients

  • 300 gm (2 cups) wholemeal flour
  • 50 ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • 80 gm roasted capsicum (see note)
  • 2 tbsp tomato passata
  • 1 tsp harissa
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 300 gm minced lamb
  • Finely grated rind of 1 lemon and juice of ½, plus extra wedges to serve
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes
  • ½ tsp dried mint
  • 1 Spanish onion, thinly sliced
  • Juice of ½ lemon, or to taste
  • 1 tsp sumac
  • ½ cup each coarsely chopped mint and flat-leaf parsley
  • 1½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Method

Notes

Note Roasted capsicum is available from delicatessens or in jars from supermarkets.


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Recipe Summary

  • 1 whole bone-in leg of lamb (7 to 8 pounds), trimmed of excess fat and membrane
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 large garlic cloves, cut into 20 slivers
  • 1/2 cup white-wine vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with rack in lower third. Rub lamb with a generous amount of salt and pepper, then rub with oil. With the tip of a sharp paring knife, cut twenty 1/2-inch-deep slits all over lamb insert garlic slivers into openings.

Place lamb on a roasting rack set on a rimmed baking sheet place in oven. Immediately reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Roast lamb until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part (avoiding bone) registers 125 degrees to 135 degrees for rare, or 135 degrees to 140 degrees for medium, 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 hours. Remove from oven let rest 10 to 15 minutes before carving.

Meanwhile, make the mint sauce: In a small saucepan, bring vinegar, sugar, and water to a boil. Reduce heat simmer until liquid is syrupy and reduced to 1 cup, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat stir in mint, and let cool completely.


Moroccan spiced lamb breast with herb couscous

Compared to most people I know, we entertain rather a lot here at Cooksister HQ. Sometimes it’s ambitious all-day braais for 30 people sometimes more intimate lunch parties for six sometimes just the neighbours over for dinner. But however many people are coming, I always hope that they find my house a relaxed and comfortable place to be that they do not feel as if they have to be on their best behaviour, or that I am neglecting them in any way. So when I recently saw an article in a local newspaper headed “Biggest dinner party host faux pas”, I felt compelled to go and have a look and see whether I was guilty of any major ones.

The list was the result of a survey by furniture manufacturer Hygena and was a peculiar combination of the expected and the unexpected:

  • 54% of guests are annoyed by a host doing too much texting on the phone or playing with a tablet
  • 45% of guests expect an abundance of toilet paper
  • 43% of visitors cringe at couples’ public displays of affection
  • 42% of guests complained that their hosts leave them alone for too long
  • 36% of guests despair at not being offered any liquid refreshments
  • 36% of guests have hated being left on the doorstep due to a broken doorbell or the host being out
  • 31% dread fending off their hosts’ pets or dealing with animal hair
  • 26% get annoyed by low temperatures in a host’s home
  • and an equal number (19%) resent being left to play with their hosts’ children or being asked to take their shoes off

OK, the texting, being left on the doorstep, being abandoned alone, dying of thirst, shivering with cold, or enforced babysitting duties of the host’s kids do not come as a surprise to me. And to be fair, I have also been in lounges where I simply did not know where to sit as everything was fuzzed over with a layer of pet fur. But are guests really upset by PDAs? Would they prefer open conflict (always a greater likelihood in my house when the pressure is high in the kitchen!)? And I am not sure how anybody can get truly upset by being asked to remove their shoes in the house – but then my guests are always offered slippers or socks. And there is always enough loo paper to sink a small frigate, so maybe guests will forgive my cat when he brings them his toy to play fetch (yes, he really does this). On balance, I think I’m doing OK as a host if I:

  • provide drinks and snacks upon arrival
  • let guests choose whether to hang out with me in the kitchen or with Nick in the lounge
  • err on the side of overcatering so that nobody goes home hungry
  • scrub the guest bathroom to within an inch of its life and stock it with towels, soap and loo paper
  • offer guests our WiFi password (you can so tell I hang out with bloggers!)

What are YOUR biggest turn-offs when you are a guest in somebody’s home?

A couple of weeks ago we had some friends over and I had to muddle through without the benefit of this list. Ignorant as I was of the needs of my guests (!), I figured the important part was to have tasty food on the table at a reasonable hour before everybody chewed off their hands and to spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying myself with my guests. In an effort to clear some space in my freezer, I had done a quick inventory and discovered a frozen lamb breast stashed behind the ice-cream (as one does!), and had decided to make that the centrepiece of the meal. Now the lamb breast is a curious and lesser-known cut, also known as lamb belly but lacking the cachet and tenderness of the ever-popular pork belly. It is an oblong-shaped part of the forequarter containing ribs and alternating layers of fat and meat. If the ribs are removed you end up with a thin layer of meat, fat and gristle, usually sold rolled up in the style of a roast. But do not be fooled – this is no more good for roasting than stewing steak is good for barbecuing. It is, however, very very cheap and in these straitened times, that makes up for a lot.

The only way to coax a delicious meal out of lamb breast is by long, slow cooking and in this house, that means dusting off my sous vide machine. I have previously written at some length about what sous vide cooking is and how it works, but in a nutshell it denotes a method of cooking food sealed in airtight plastic bags in a water bath at a carefully regulated constant temperature. The cooking times are unusually long (up to 72 hours) and the temperatures are much lower than are normally used for cooking, typically between 55°C (131 °F) and 60°C (140 °F). Cooking sous vide means that much of your dinner party prep can take place while you sleep or while you are at work and it also means that given enough time, even the toughest, cheapest piece of meat can be cooked to fork-tender perfection using this method. Having previously had edible but disappointing results cooking a lamb breast like a traditional roast, I’d been dying to see how it would turn out if cooked sous vide.

The spice rub I used is an adaptation of the one on my favourite Nigel Slater slow-roast lamb recipe, given added Morroccan flavour by the addition of ras-el-hanout. I have made this twice, once for something like 18 hours at 55C and once for 8 hours at 57.5. Both work fine if you want the meat to be medium rare, which I did: the meat remains pink but becomes beautifully tender – streets better than my previous attempt at speedy oven roasting! (Please note that if you want the meat to be medium, you need a temperature of about 60C and a cooking time of 12-15 hours and if you want it well done you will need a temperature of 65-70C and anything from 15-20 hours.) The long time that the spices spend in close quarters with the meat means that their flavours truly infuse right through, and the fat that can sometimes be overwhelming with lamb cooks out into the bag so that you can discard it. I served my lamb on an appropriately Moroccan bed of fresh herb couscous alongside roasted slices of aubergine doused in more ras-el-hanout. And who can complain about taking off their shoes when the food tastes this good?


Recipe Summary

  • 2 pounds lamb loin chops
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon mixed herbs - Italian, Greek, or French blend
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • salt as needed
  • ¼ cup orange marmalade
  • 1 pinch hot chili flakes
  • ½ tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

Place lamb chops in a large bowl. Season with olive oil, garlic, cumin, mixed herbs, pepper, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne, and salt. Toss until well coated with oil and seasonings. Cover and refrigerate. Allow to marinate at least 4 hours.

Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat and lightly oil the grate. Place lamb chops on grill. Sprinkle the chops with a bit of salt. Grill until seared on the first side, 4 to 7 minutes depending on the size of the chops. Rotate chops a half turn on the grill about a minute before turning them. Turn and grill the other side to desired doneness, another 4 to 7 minutes. For medium rare, an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should bead 125 to 130 degrees F (54 degrees C). Transfer to a serving dish and tent loosely with foil.

Place marmalade in bowl. Add chili flakes, mint, and rice vinegar. Stir together thoroughly.


Ingredients

  1. Greek Marinade for Lamb:
    • 1/3 cup olive oil
    • juice of 2 lemons
    • 1/4 cup dried oregano, preferably Greek, or 1/2 cup chopped fresh
    • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 3 1/2-4 1/2 pounds lamb loin or rib chops, 3/4-1 1/4 inch thick, trimmed, OR 4 pounds lamb for kebabs cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks, OR a 3 1/2- to 4 1/2-pound leg of lamb, fat trimmed and butterflied
  2. If Making Kebabs:
    • 1 large onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
    • 1 red or green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 900g-1.3kg lean boneless lamb breast (unrolled)
  • 2 small onions, peeled and quartered
  • 2 scotch bonnet peppers, deseeded and halved
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 x 15g pack fresh thyme leaves
  • 100ml dark soy sauce
  • 50ml dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  1. To prepare the marinade put all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Place the lamb breast on a chopping board and make several slashes on each side with a sharp knife. Transfer to a shallow dish. Using rubber or disposable gloves rub the marinade over the lamb on both sides. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 150°C, 130°C Fan, Gas Mark 2. Remove the lamb from the marinade and transfer to a roasting rack in a foil-lined roasting tin. Cover with foil and roast slowly for 1 hour 40 minutes, or until the lamb is tender.
  4. Finish off the lamb on a prepared barbecue or under a preheated moderate grill for 10 minutes, turning once. Slice the lamb into strips and serve with prepared roasted vegetables.

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Preheat the oven to 180°C. In a bowl, combine half of the olive oil with the oregano, spices, chilli flakes and lemon zest.

Add the pieces of chicken breast, making sure they are all evenly coated in spice mix. Marinate in the fridge for 2 hours.

For garlic and mint yoghurt, blanch the garlic cloves in a pot of simmering water until soft. Drain.

With a stick blender, blend the garlic cloves with the mint and 100g of the yoghurt until it makes a smooth paste. Fold through the remaining yoghurt and season to taste.

To cook the chicken, heat a large non-stick pan on a low to medium heat. Add the remaining olive oil and the garlic cloves. Once the garlic has softened and turned a light golden, remove from pan and discard.

Turn the heat to high and add the marinated chicken breast, seasoning both sides with salt and pepper, and sear until golden on both sides.

Place on to a lined baking tray, and cook in the oven for a further 4-6 minutes until cooked through. Set aside and allow to rest.

Plate the chicken with a good dollop of the garlic and mint yoghurt.

Serve with a large spoonful of tabouli and flat bread.

Tip: Shred leftover chicken and use in a wrap with some of the garlic and mint yoghurt and tabouli. Or you can replace the chicken with marinated lamb or thin slices of beef.

Something to drink: pinot noir. Biodynamic wine is all about flavour and terroir. The 2009 Seresin Leah Pinot Noir ($40) from Marlborough, New Zealand, has black and red fruit and fine tannins that blend well with the flavours of the spiced chicken.


Preparation

Step 1

Pulse onions, cilantro, parsley, mint, cumin, paprika, allspice, red pepper flakes, and ras-el-hanout in a food processor until very finely chopped season with salt. Place lamb in a large dish and rub with spice mixture. Cover and chill at least 2 hours.

Step 2

Prepare grill for medium-high heat and oil grate. Grill lamb to desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let rest at least 5 minutes before serving.

Step 3

Do Ahead: Lamb can be marinated 12 hours ahead. Keep chilled.

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