Wednesday, January 7, 2015

slow roasted lamb shoulder.

My mom and I share many things, most notably our love of corny jokes best suited for a 5 year old. 

What cheese do you use to lure a bear out of its cave?

Camem-bear!  (i.e. Camembert if you are anything like Tyler who doesn't know the name of cheeses.)  

(This makes me laugh every time.)

We also share a love of reporting to each other the best things we've made in the last week which is why most of our phone calls revolve around re-capping our latest cooking adventures.  It is pretty awesome to have someone in my life who is just as excited about cooking as me (I had to get this gene from somewhere!).  

Mama had commented recently that I don't blog very often about meat.  This stems from the fact that I don't eat much meat but also because meat dishes aren't always pretty.  Not in the way a salad or pizza is with it's plethora of colors.   Meat can be monotone and one note and maybe it tastes amazing but we all know people eat with their eyes and no one will think to make something if it looks ugly.   

But!  At the encouragement of the mama and the fact that Tyler declared this the best lamb he's ever eaten, I figured it earned the right to appear on this blog.  Tyler and I celebrate 9 years together this past Sunday.  When we first started dating, I would have never imagined we would end up here.  I think most people who knew us when we first started dating never thought this would last much past the study abroad trip we were on in Switzerland but somehow it did.  And here we are 9 years later which is why we deserved to celebrate with some lamb.   

I naturally gravitate more towards meat in the winter.  With the lack of famer's market produce, it only makes sense to look for nourishment in other ways.  This is why I find myself at Dicksons's far more regularly.  If we are going to have meat it's going to be damm good meat and this lamb shoulder is about as good as it gets. Here it's rubbed in a spice mixture and then slow roasted until it becomes as tender as can be.  Served with yogurt sauce and stuffed in a pita, you have pretty much my ideal meal perfect for celebrating.   

Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder
Recipe from Esquire 

Me being me, I upped my spice game (I couldn't help it).  A little bit of sumac (1 teaspoon), some urfa chile (1/4 teaspoon), some aleppo pepper (1/2 teaspoon), a little cumin (1/2 teaspoon), and a little bit of smoked paprika (1/2 teaspoon).  I realize not everyone has these spices and you don't need to go out and buy them, but if you do have them add them!  

I realize this may not look like much, but seriously, it is really good.   

For the Lamb

1 boneless lamb shoulder, butterflied and tied by your butcher (about 3½ lbs)
Spice mix: 2 tbsp whole coriander seeds, 2 tbsp whole fennel seeds, 2 tbsp whole black peppercorns, 3 bay leaves, toasted in small pan over medium heat until aromatic (2 to 4 minutes)
¼ cup harissa paste
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp coarse salt (plus more for preseasoning)
¼ cup water
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Additional spices if desired, see note above

Remove lamb from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature, up to 2 hours, so that it cooks evenly. Place meat on a roasting rack and then a sheet pan. This way, the roast isn't resting directly on the pan (causing its juices to pool there) and air can circulate on all sides. Thirty minutes before cooking, liberally season with coarse salt.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Put dry spice mix in blender (or small food processor) with harissa, garlic, cinnamon, salt, and water (and other spices if using). Blend slowly, add olive oil, and set aside.

Sear: Place lamb in the middle of the oven and roast for 20 minutes.

Slow-roast: Remove lamb from the oven, leave the door ajar for 10 minutes to cool it down, then bring it to 225 degrees.

Rub lamb all over with harissa mixture and place in oven until the internal temperature is 140 degrees. This can take anywhere from 2½ to 3½ hours.

Rest: Remove roast from oven and let rest for 30 minutes. Don't ruin a great piece of meat by slicing it too quickly. The fibers of the meat still need time to relax after cooking, letting the natural juices redistribute so they don't pour out when you carve. So wait a half hour, then remove the butcher's twine from the lamb and cut into quarter-inch slices. Serve with yogurt sauce.

Yogurt sauce

2 cups yogurt
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp freshly ground cumin
3 tbsp chopped mint
3 tbsp chopped cilantro
2 tbsp finely diced preserved lemon skin (available at good stores; dice only the skin, discard flesh and white pith) or 1 tablespoon lemon zest
Kosher salt (to taste)

Stir to combine.

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