I am a fan of the taste of lamb, especially grilled lamb. The "labminess" that seems to worry people is an extra depth of flavor that I love.
*Is lambiness a word? Not according to my spell check. I'm going with it anyhow.
I don't understand the concern about the flavor. When I cook lamb for people, they seem surprised at how much they like it. I had this exact reaction at the farmers market cooking demo I did last weekend. The one quote I remember was:
Taster: The pork is delicious!
Me: Um...that's butterflied leg of lamb.
Taster: Oh, really? Wow, I never would have guessed. It's good!Another was..."That was lamb? It tasted interesting." I'm guessing that most of the tasters liked it - they ate every last scrap of lamb I served.
There were a number of lamb fans in the audience, who got excited when they heard I was serving lamb. When I told Jane Snow that we would be tasting the lamb in twenty minutes, she got a gleam in her eye and said "I'll be back."
*Think Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator level "I'll be back". I could see that gleam in her eye through her sunglasses.
If you haven't had lamb in a while, and think you don't like it, give it a try. You'll be pleasantly surprised. Particularly if you get a good, locally grown lamb, like the leg I was cooking, donated at cost by Great American Lamb. My only regret about the lamb was they couldn't make it to the market last Saturday, and people kept asking where they could buy it. They will be at the market this weekend, so stop by and pick something up from them. (And tell them I sent you.)
Recipe: Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb, Dry Brined with Garlic, Lemon and Herbs
Adapted From: Pam Anderson CookSmart
- Grill (I used a Weber kettle, like this one)
- 1 boneless leg of lamb, about 3 pounds
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt (about 1/2 tsp per pound)
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
- 4 minced garlic cloves
- zest of one lemon
- 1 tsp minced fresh thyme
- 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1. Dry brine the lamb: 1 to 3 days before cooking, trim any excess fat from the lamb. Boneless lamb roasts are usually butterflied; it should open up like a book. If it isn't butterflied, the roast will look like a cylinder, with a hole in the middle where the bone was. Cut through one side of the roast to open it up. Sprinkle evenly with all the salt. Mix all the rest of the dry brine ingredients together, then rub evenly over the lamb. Refrigerate the lamb in a roasting pan, covered with plastic wrap. Remove the plastic wrap the night before cooking to allow the moisture on the lamb to dry. Remove the lamb from the refrigerator one to two hours before cooking.
*The dry brine works as long as it is applied at least one hour before cooking. If you can't season one hour before cooking, do it just before putting the lamb on the grill.
2. Prepare the grill: Prepare your grill for cooking on indirect medium-high heat. For my Weber kettle, I light a chimney starter* three-quarters full of charcoal, wait for it to be covered with ash, then pour it in a thick single layer of coals, on the charcoal grate. (The coals should cover about half of the kettle's charcoal grate). I put a drip pan on the grate opposite the coals. Then I put the grill grate in, cover for five minutes to heat it up, and clean it with my grill brush.
*I highly recommend the Weber Chimney Starter, because it is larger than most chimney starters. It holds 5 quarts of charcoal, which exactly the right size for cooking this recipe.
|Lamb on one side, coals on the other|
4. Rest, carve and serve: Remove the lamb from the grill, and let rest for 15 minutes before carving. Slice the lamb into 1/4" to 1/2" thick slices, and serve.
*Lemon juice: After zesting the lemon for the rub, I used the juice in a grated carrot salad. If I wasn't making the salad, I would have saved the lemon (wrapped in plastic, because once the zest is gone it dries out) and squeezed it over the lamb right after removing it from the grill.
*Herbs: I used thyme because it was what I had on hand. Use whatever herbs you like; rosemary, parsley, thyme and oregano all go well with lamb.
*Serving options: At the market, I served the lamb with a grated carrot salad; tzatziki sauce is also very traditional. I agree with Michael Symon: an acidic sauce goes well with lamb.
*Leftover lamb means Gyros to me. Make some tzatziki sauce, serve with pita bread, sliced red onions and (maybe) a Greek salad. Or, make them middle eastern by using hummus, harissa and pita bread, and serving with tabbouleh.
*Leftover lamb also makes a great sandwich. Lamb, mayo, some lettuce (mesclun mix is nice) between two pieces of bread. Make sure the lamb is thin cut, or the sandwich is hard to eat. If I have big pieces of lamb, I chop them into thin strips before putting them in the sandwich.
*Oh, and I meant to baste this with the garlic and butter baste I used in my grilled steak recipe, using a herb brush...but I forgot in all the excitement at the market.
What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
Grilled Lamb Loin Chops Michael Symon Style
Grilled Rack of Lamb
Rotisserie Boneless Leg of Lamb
Thanks to Great American Lamb for supplying the lamb for the cooking demo, and this post.
Thanks to Tamara Mitchell at DineInDiva.com for the pictures.
Pam Anderson: CookSmart
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