new to cooking lamb
I'm looking to make some sort of slow-cooked lamb dish, possibly middle Eastern. I don't cook meat too often and I've rarely cooked lamb. What part of the lamb should I be buying? I'm thinking shoulder but I'm not really sure. Any recipe suggestions?
I like braised lamb shanks. I brown 'em then brown carrot, celery, onion, add chicken stock and braise them in the oven at about 250/275 degrees (above boiling but not too much) for about 1-1/2 hours to 2-1/2 depending, but until the meat is comming off the bone but still holds together. I strain and toss the veggies, thicken the broth then reintroduce veggies I like or just serve veggies (leek's) I like on the side. Keep a eye on it to make sure the liqued is up and it doesn't burn.
I like it with small red potatoes or an egg noodle.
The other big one is roast leg of lamb. There are plenty of recipes on the internet. One thing I've found out about lamb is the left overs are not my favorite. It just doesn't seem to hang out like beef or chicken does.
I LOVE lamb leftovers, Robert, so just e-mail yours to me, OK? 8-)
Actually, as we speak, I'm making lamb and lentil stew. It's really thicker than a soup, so I'm calling it "stew". I sauteed celery, onions and garlic. (I don't like cooked carrots, but you can add them.) Spice it as you like: any combo of parseley, oregano, marjoram, thyme, bay leaf, cumin. Cook with broth/water until the lentils are done. Stir in cubes of leftover, cooked lamb, and heat through.
Serve with your choice of a squeeze of lime juice, a dollop of sour cream, a dollop of yoghurt, or a few cubes of cream cheese if you like.
Lamb shanks are easy and very delicious.
generally 1 - 2 per serving depending on the size.
I don't have a middle easten take on it but you could do your own spices once you get the drill down and then take the meat off the bone and serve it on rice (omit my potatoes) with pita and middle eastern side dishes and salad.
Here's my version - All American lamb stew: Brown shanks well in a heavy dutch oven in olive oil. Remove. Add chopped onions to the fat and brown lightly, add garlic and cook for a few minutes. Add shanks back in and add a few bay leaves, and enough broth, some red wine and a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste to not quite cover the shanks. Add a 2 teaspoons of sugar.
Cover and simmer two hours. When just about tender, add chunks of carrots and celery and whatever herbs and spices you like (for me it would be fresh bruised rosemary or thyme - but not too much spice of any kind - IMPORTANT)Some people add the herbs at the beginning but I think you lose the flavor.
After about 10 minutes add chunked potato and continue cooking (simmer) until fork tender - maybe another 20 minutes. BUT don't add the potato until the meat is tender. The carrots and celery can cook longer until the meat is tender, but the potato would fall apart.
Skim the fat - lamb has a lot of fat.
I find pressing paper towels quickly onto the surface after spooning out what I can is the best method.
Unlike a lot of people, I don't add any S & P until the very end, because until then you really don't know what you're dealing with, salt wise, and the pepper tastes more pungent that way too.
Mix in some frozen peas right before serving for color.
I have only cooked lamb a couple of times. The most recent, I think was only the second time. Like you, I was trying to decide what to do.
I started with a boned leg of lamb. I put it in a large zip bag overnight with: the juice and peels from three lemons, many crushed garlic cloves, a bit of red wine vinegar, some olive oil, cracked pepper, a thinly sliced Walla Walla sweet onion, nearly two cups of chicken stock, and some herbs.
The following evening I had my son grill the meat to get some smoke elements. After about 10 minutes per side on the BBQ, I put it in a preheated oven at about 250-275 for another 40 minutes or so. I pulled it at about 140 degrees. I probably will pull it sooner next time. Although the meat was not dry, and was quite satisfying, I am curious to see what it is like a bit rarer.
While the cooking process was going on, I separated my marinade. I placed the liquids and the solids in two different pans. I reduced the liquids to about 20% of the original volume. I removed the lemon peels and sweated the onions and garlic etc. and finished them with some higher heat to get some color and to heighten the sugar. I then re-combined the solids and reduced liquids but decided not to add any thickeners.
When the lamb came to temperature, I removed it from the oven, tented it, and let it rest for about 20 minutes. I did not expect much rise in temp do to the low oven temperature, but wanted to keep as much juice in the leg as possible when I carved it.
I served Niko Niko rice cooked in chicken stock, toasted pita bread, pepperoncini, kalamata olives, hot house tomatoes, and a cucumber salad with yogurt, feta, and an off-the-shelf Greek season blend. I was looking for some fresh mint to liven the salad, but my store was out. I sliced the lamb and severed it with my garlicky lemon & onion sauce. (OK, I put some of the sauce on the rice too.) Yummy!
The left overs stood up well. I found that by heating up my sauce, and simply adding the lamb to the warm sauce worked great!
All these suggestions sound delicious but I will add another dimension, ground lamb. I make a sort of fake Middle-Eastern meal that is easy and good. Mix ground lamb with salt, dried dill, dried mint, and cinnamon and form it into large meatballs or mini-loaves. Put these in a baking dish and over them pour (mixed) a can of tomato sauce, a can of water, lemon juice, and more salt, dill, mint, and cinnamon. In between the meat put quarters of onion and green pepper. Bake this and have it with rice.