In the mood for something new?

Published 12:04 am Saturday, April 11, 2015

I did buy a small boneless lamb shoulder at Whole Foods the other day. I am like most Americans and do not eat a lot of lamb. But I have noticed recently that most good restaurants do have some lamb offerings on its menu. I have read that it is not a buzzy restaurant if there isn’t lamb on the menu. The trend is to use lamb necks which can become meltingly tender when braised in a hearty red-wine bath, then picked from the bones and used in a stew. Lamb ribs seem to be the darling on the menu. Their smaller size makes them suited to small dishes. You should ask for Denver ribs attached to the breast. They are meatier than the two-bite spareribs. Lamb breasts come from the belly, and this makes it very fatty. To get the best results cook it slow in a low oven before grilling it or crisping it up in a hot oven.

In the spring there are a lot of lamb recipes in all the magazines and I guess I get caught up in the hype and want to try a recipe or two. There were two that I thought were worth trying so my next few meals will be with lamb and beans and lamb with spring vegetables.

From the Splendid Table, American Public Media on line.

Garlic and Rosemary Studded Leg of Lamb with Cannellini Beans

Serves 8

The lamb:

1 leg or shoulder of lamb, 4-5 pounds (1 had only 2 pounds)

6 stalks rosemary

2 heads garlic, peeled with the cloves cut in half

3 heads of garlic, separated from the head and not peeled

The Beans:

2 lbs. cannellini beans, soaked overnight in water

1 large Spanish onion, cut in quarters

1 large carrot, peeled and cut in half

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1 ea. 4 ounce piece of slab bacon

Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the lamb onto a large cutting board. Make small incisions into the meat in even intervals all around. Stuff the incisions with garlic and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper. Place the lamb in a large roasting pan. Arrange the unpeeled garlic cloves around the lamb. Pour 2 cups of water in the pan. Put the lamb into the oven and cook for about an hour and a half or until a meat thermometer reaches 145-165, depending on how well you want it cooked.

For the beans, strain the beans from the soaking water. Put the beans into a large pot and cover with water. Add the onions, carrot, and bacon. Bring the beans up to a boil over high heat, and then down to a low simmer, on low heat. Season with a little salt and pepper, but not all the way as the liquid will continue to reduce. Cook the beans for about an hour, or until they are tender. More water may be added during the cooking process to keep the beans covered. Once cooked, adjust the seasoning, set aside and keep warm.

Once the lamb has reached desired doneness, remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Once rested, move the lamb to a large cutting board. Slice the lamb into thin slices and arrange nicely on a large serving platter. Spoon the pan drippings over the sliced lamb to keep moist. Garnish the platter with the roasted cloves of garlic from the bottom of the pan. Pour the beans into a large serving bowl. Serve family style.

From the April 2015 issue of ‘bon appétit’

Ragout of Lamb and Spring

Vegetables with Farro

4 sprigs oregano

4 sprigs thyme

2 sprigs rosemary

2 bay leaves

¼ cup olive oil, plus more

2 lb. lamb shoulder, cut into 1” pieces

Kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper

8 oz. pearl onions, peeled

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 cup dry red wine

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup semi-pearled farro or wheat berries, rinsed

1 ¾ lb. baby turnips, trimmed, scrubbed; halved, if large

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1” pieces on a diagonal

2 cups fresh (or frozen, thawed) peas

1 bunch dandelion greens, trimmed

Tie together oregano, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaves with kitchen twine.

Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a large pot over medium-high. Season lamb with salt and pepper. Working in batches, cook, turning occasionally, until browned, 12-15 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate as you go.

Add onions to pot and stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper and cook until starting to brown, about 4 minutes. Stir in garlic, cook 30 seconds before adding vinegar. Cook, scraping up browned bits, until syrupy, about 1 minute.

Add wine, bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by about one-fourth, about 4 minutes. Add broth, lamb, and herb bundle. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer gently, partially covered, until lamb in tender, 75-85 minutes.

Stir in farro and cook until nearly al dente, 15-20 minutes. Remove herb bundle; add turnips. Cook until farro is cooked through, turnips are tender, and lamb is almost falling apart, 30-40 minutes. Mix in asparagus and peas; cook until crisp-tender, 2 minutes. Add greens and stir to wilt. Season with salt and pepper. Serve drizzled with oil.