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Australian ways with lamb.

Australian ways with lamb

Winemaker's roast leg, oven stew, shoulder roast, shanks with lentils

Australian cooks bring a practiced skill to cooking lamb. It's as familiar on dinner tables there as beef and chicken are here. So it's only natural that cooks have discovered innumerable ways to vary presentations. Lamb-loving Westerners will also appreciate these new flavors. Franca Corino, a native of Italy's Piedmont region, settled in the Australian Gold Rush town of Mudgee--about a 3-hour drive northwest of Sydney. (Mudgee, an Aboriginal word, means "nest in the hills.") For many years, she ran the Craigmoor Winery restaurant and featured, at the noon buffet, a leg of lamb seasoned with olive oil, garlic, and one of her favorite wines, a dry Semillon produced by her husband, Carlo. Beneath the roasting lamb, she tucked small halved potatoes to absorb the savory juices. The result resembles the traditional Australian Sunday dinner of roast lamb with potatoes and two or more vegetables, but with an update: Mrs. Corino cooks the lamb only to medium-rare, a practice that is gradually replacing the Aussie preference for well-done meat. Some butchers in larger Australian cities display a wide variety of ready-to-cook lamb cuts conveniently seasoned, marinated, stuffed, or skewered. These meats are ready to pop into the oven, into the frying pan, or onto the "barbie." Worth duplicating at home is one favorite from Sydney's Double Bay section, a shoulder roast stuffed with spinach and pine nuts. Another Mudgee cook, Louise Wilson, takes an easy, informal approach to lamb. Cubed lamb shoulder needs no browning before it goes into a deep casserole to make an oven stew. Tart apple, white wine, and tangy malt vinegar counter the meat's naturally sweet flavor. Dining out in Australia's largest city also reveals some new trends in cooking lamb. Sydney's Macleay Street Bistro combines tradition and invention, braising lamb shanks in red wine to serve with lentils. To brighten the dish, chefs add a garnish of chopped fresh tomato, chive stems, and a bouquet of mache or tiny lettuce leaves.

Macleay Street Lamb Shanks with Savory Lentils
2 tablespoons salad oil
6 large lamb shanks, 5 1/2 to 6 pounds
 total, bones cracked
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 medium-size carrots, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
6 sprigs fresh thyme (each about 4
 in. long), coarsely chopped; or 1/2
 teaspoon dry thyme leaves
1 cup dry red wine

1 3/4 cups or 1 can (14 1/2 oz.) regular-strength

chicken broth

Savory lentils (recipe follows)
1 small, firm-ripe tomato, cored and
 finely chopped

Whole or chopped chives

Salt and pepper Pour oil into a 5- to 6-quart pan that can go into the oven. Place on medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add lamb shanks, 2 or 3 at a time (do not crowd), and brown well on all sides. Remove from pan as browned, and brown remaining shanks. Spoon out pan drippings; return 1 tablespoon to pan and save the remainder for lentils (recipe follows). Return shanks to pan along with the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, wine, and broth. Cover and bake in a 400 [degrees] oven until lamb is very tender when pierced, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Spoon lentils into wide, deep bowls or rimmed dinner plates; top equally with cooked vegetables, lamb shanks, and meat juices. Sprinkle with chopped tomato and chives; season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 668 cal.; 49 g protein; 29 g fat; 53 g carbo.; 165 mg sodium; 98 mg chol.

Savory lentils. Pour reserved drippings from lamb shanks (preceding recipe) into a 2- to 3-quart pan. Finely chop 1 large onion and add to pan; stir often over medium heat until onion is limp but not brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Sort through 2 cups (1 lb.) lentils, removing debris. Rinse and drain lentils; add to onion along with 3 1/2 cups regular-strength chicken broth. Bring to a boil on high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and boil gently until lentils are tender to bite, about 35 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Franca's Roast Lamb

1 leg of lamb, 6 to 6 1/2 pounds 4 cloves garlic 2 cups dry white wine such as

Australian or domestic dry

Semillon 3 tablespoons fresh or 1 tablespoon

dry rosemary leaves 2 tablespoons olive oil 16 to 20 small (1 1/2- to 2-in.-diameter)

thin-skinned red potatoes 2 teaspoons each butter or

margarine and all-purpose flour

Salt and pepper Trim and discard surface fat from lamb. Thinly slice 2 cloves of the garlic; make small, shallow cuts in surface of lamb and insert a garlic slice into each. In a large plastic bag set in a pan, combine wine, rosemary, oil, and remaining garlic, minced or pressed; add lamb, turning to coat. Seal bag and chill at least 4 hours or up until next day; turn bag over several times. Cut potatoes in half and place, cut sides down, in a 12- by 15-inch roasting pan. Place a V-rack in pan. Remove lamb from marinade; reserve marinade. Place lamb on the rack. Insert a meat thermometer in thickest part of meat, touching the bone. Roast, uncovered, in a 350 [degrees] oven, until thermometer registers 135 [degrees] for medium-rare (145 [degrees] in the center of the largest muscle), about 2 hours. Transfer lamb and potatoes to a platter and keep warm. Skim and discard fat from pan, if necessary. Add butter to pan and melt on medium heat. Blend in flour, then smoothly mix in the reserved marinade; stir to scrape free browned bits. Stirring, bring to a boil on high heat. Pour into a bowl. Slice meat and serve with potatoes and sauce; add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 8 to 10 servings. Per serving: 345 cal.; 40 g protein; 13 g fat; 15 g carbo.; 109 mg sodium; 138 mg chol.

Lamb Shoulder Roast with Spinach and Pine Nuts

About 3/4 pound spinach

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup pine nuts
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed

1/2 teaspoon dry oregano leaves

Coarsely ground pepper 1/2 cup soft bread crumbs

1 lamb shoulder, 4 to 4 1/2 pounds,


Salt Discard roots, coarse stems, and yellowed leaves of spinach. Wash leaves well. Stack leaves, then cut crosswise into about 1/2-inch-wide slivers. Set aside. In a 5- to 6-quart pan over medium heat, combine oil and nuts; stir often until nuts are golden, about 6 minutes. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon; set aside. Add onion to pan; cook, stirring often, until limp but not browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and spinach. Stir just until spinach is limp, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in crumbs and nuts. Trim and discard most of the surface fat from lamb. Lay meat flat, boned side up, and cover with plastic wrap. With a flat mallet, pound meat gently and firmly to flatten evenly. Spread spinach mixture over the meat, leaving about a 1 1/2-inch margin on all sides. Starting from the most irregular long side, roll meat up snugly. Use string to tie snugly at about 1 1/2-inch intervals. Place meat, fat side up, on a rack in a 12- by 15-inch roasting pan. Sprinkle generously with pepper. Insert a meat thermometer in center. Roast, uncovered, in a 350 [degrees] oven until thermometer registers 145 [degrees] for medium-rare, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Slice roast 1/2 inch thick. Add salt to taste. Serves 6 to 8. Per serving: 308 cal.; 30 g protein; 19 g fat; 4.9 g carbo.; 146 mg sodium; 102 mg chol.

Louise Wilson's Oven Lamb Stew

2 to 2 1/2 pounds boneless lamb

shoulder, fat trimmed, cut into

1-inch cubes 3/4 teaspoon dry rosemary leaves 1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 medium-size tart apples, peeled,

cored, and sliced 1/4 inch thick

4 to 6 medium-size carrots, thinly


1 can (14 1/2 oz.) pear-shaped

tomatoes 1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons malt vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour mixed

smoothly with 2 tablespoons


Salt Mix lamb with rosemary, pepper, and garlic. Place about a third of the meat in a deep 3- to 3 1/2-quart casserole; cover with apple slices. Add another third of the lamb and cover with carrots, then add remaining lamb. Whirl tomatoes in food processor or blender until pureed. Mix with wine, vinegar, and Worcestershire; pour over lamb. Cover casserole tightly. Bake in a 375 [degrees] oven until lamb is very tender when pierced, 2 1/2 to 3 hours; stir once or twice after 1 hour. Skim and discard fat from stew, if necessary. Stir flour mixture into stew. Cover and return to oven until liquid bubbles, about 5 minutes. Add salt to taste. Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 220 cal.; 20 g protein; 8.2 g fat; 17 g carbo.; 223 mg sodium; 71 mg chol.

PHOTO : Oven-braised lamb shanks from a bistro "down under" top seasoned lentils.
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Title Annotation:recipes
Date:Apr 1, 1990
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