Lamb leg steaks...any good ideas?
OK, so I loove lamb (yes, enough to use two o's!) so I was intrigued when I passed lamb leg steaks...I can cook a mean leg of lamb but it takes a lot of time and I only do it when I've got company coming over, as I live with two roommates who are never home, so usually I'm cooking for one, or two max. So, when I found these beautiful looking lamb leg steaks, I was intrigued...the yumminess of leg of lamb without all the work of cooking a multiple pound hunk of meat?? Score! Problem is, now I don't know what to do with them...do I cook them like lamb chops? Anyone have any good recipes to share? I like to classify myself a mid-level cook - I can handle reducing, carmelizing, multiple pans etc...but I'm by no means an A-level chef, so easy to moderately difficult (and of course DELICIOUS!) recipes are much appreciated - thanks so much!
Here's an idea: start with a marinade or rub. With lamb, I love a mixture of garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, and one or two types of herbs. Mix or pound to a paste. Sometimes I add lemon juice. Other times I add a few anchovy filets.
Lay out your leg steaks, cut off most of the exterior fat, and brush with the marinade or rub. Let rest for an hour, covered, on the counter. You can also let them rest in the fridge, but then I'd let them rest a bit longer, like 2-3 hours.
Now you can cook them on a grill, under the broiler, or pan fry in a saute pan. If you are going to pan fry them, heat the pan over medium-high heat. Add some oil to the pan and then add the meat. Brown both sides, about 2 min. per side. Then reduce the heat to medium low and cook a few minutes longer until they reach the desired level of doneness (probably medium or medium rare). Error on the side of undercooking them, but when you take them off the heat, let them rest on a plate for 5 minutes and they will continue to cook.
Rosemary would be excellent. Just be sure to chop it as finely as you can, which makes it easier to chew. The overall cooking time depends on how thick your steaks are. If they are one inch, I'd say to start with a 2 minute sear on each side, then 5-6 minutes over lower heat, for 9-10 minutes total. I forgot to mention, put the lid on the pan when you move to the low heat part. Alternatively, you can preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and put the pan in the oven for 5-6 minutes after the high heat part of the cooking.
I *think* 10 minutes will get you to medium rare for a 1-inch steak. It is easy enough to check the doneness and let it go another 2-3 minutes if need be.
If you use just 1 anchovy filets for one leg steak, it won't be that fishy. But it will have a lingering anchovy flavor, of course. So if you don't like anchovy but want to experiment, start with half a filet this time and build up. Anchovies have this weird ability to essentially melt when cooked (esp if cooked into a sauce). There won't be any pieces or fishy taste. It will be more of an accent than a main flavor. But I think it goes well with garlic and lamb.
I've been cooking everything with the "sear/lower heat and cover" method for a couple of years now. 9-10 minutes is way too long for medium rare for a one-inch steak.
I usually crank the pan (it should be a fairly deep pan -- I use my stirfry pan for this) to smoke point, do a 30-second sear on each side, then 2 more minutes covered on low heat on each side for each inch of thickness for rare and 2.5 for medium rare. In other words, five minutes total for one inch, rare, or 6 minutes for medium rare, not including 4-5 minutes resting time. Ground meat takes a little longer, mostly because the fact it's not solid makes the heat conduct less efficiently. I love this method -- it's so much easier and more consistent than messing with the broiler or using both a pan and the oven!
You can't beat garlic, rosemary and lamb -- it's a classic combination. If you want your rub/marinade to really penetrate, don't forget to add a little acid (i.e. lemon juice).
Lamb leg steaks are great pan-fried, grilled or braised.
One favourite prep is to pan-fry them in a bit of olive oil over medium-high heat, no more than a couple of minutes a side (for medium rare). Before you turn them, sprinkle some fresh thyme leaves on and around them (the leaves will pop). Salt and pepper them generously after you remove them from the pan. Then add more thyme to the pan and some dry white wine. Reduce while scraping the bottom of the pan to free up any caramelized adherences. Pour over the steaks and serve, preferably with a gratin dauphinois or new potatoes braised with garlic cloves.
For the grill, you can rub them with a mixture of salt, pepper and fresh or dried herbs (thyme, rosemary and a homeopathic shot of lavender are my favourites) or marinate them in olive oil and lemon juice with a clove or two of crushed garlic and an herb if you like.
A braise I make goes something like this:
- Dredge 6 steaks and brown them in a skillet, transferring them to a flameproof casserole.
- In the skillet, sauté lots of sliced onions and 2 garlic cloves until the onion begins to brown. Add 2 sliced green bell pepper and sauté until it softens. Transfer the mixture to the casserole.
- Add chopped or canned tomatoes, chopped celery, a bouquet garni, a bunch of mixed fresh herbs, 1/2 cup beef stock and 1 1/2 cups dry red wine. Season with salt and pepper.
- Bring to a boil, turn the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer until tender, about 1 hour. Serve with chick peas or couscous.
Some great ideas! I would choose most any of the marinades, but definitely including minced rosemary. I favor sautéeing because it gives you so much more control. After 3 minutes per side over medium-high heat (for pretty rare), I turn the 1-inch chops again and pour on 1/3 cup of brandy--from a measuring cup, not from the bottle!--and ignite CAREFULLY. You want to keep your eyebrows. As soon as the flames die down, transfer the lamb to a warm platter and toss some minced shallots and chanterelle or crimini mushrooms into the hot skillet, lower the heat to medium, and sauté for 5 minutes while the lamb rests. Mmmm.
If you have a grill, try putting a marinade on your steaks and grilling them. I usually debone a leg of lamb and butterfly it to grill but your steaks will be fine as they are.
My favorite marinade is based on the Silver Palate cookbook and has wine, soy, vinegar, ground black pepper (lots) and garlic (lots). Marinate your steaks in this, grill quickly so the steaks are still rare when they come off the grill.
You can vary the marinade to suit your tastes - last time I did it I used tamarind paste in place of the vinegar and ground chilies in place of the black pepper. You can use finely chopped garlic in the marinade or slivers which you insert into the meat.