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Lamb and springtime companions.

Lamb and springtime companions

Lamb and spring have a special affinity. They go together out of tradition, from the times when young lamb came only in spring. Here we propose ways to show off three fine cuts: a crown roast (made with racks); a boned loin; and the leg. Each has companions to make a special menu.

To make a crown (as shown above), have three racks cracked and sewn together, bones out. Do it yourself or ask your meatman to assemble it. For the most dramatic look, trim meat from ribs down about 2 inches from tips.

Crown Roast of Lamb with Vegetable Ragout and Couscous

Vegetable ragout mixture (directions follow)

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dry thyme leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 crown roast of lamb (3 racks tied together, bones out--5 to 6 lb. total), with surface fat trimmed

Couscous (recipe follows)

1 1/2 cups regular-strength beef broth

1/2 cup each dry red wine and whipping cream

1/4 cup (1/8 lb.) unsalted butter or margarine

Put vegetable regout mixture in a 12- by 15-inch roasting pan and mix with half the thyme, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Bake in a 475| oven for 30 munutes; remove from oven. Drain off and reserve vegetable juices, then continue baking vegetables until they are soft and edges are almost black, 20 to 25 minutes longer. In a food processor or with a knife, coarsely chop vegetables; keep warm.

About 30 minutes before vegetables are done, sprinkle lamb lightly with salt, pepper, and remaining thyme. Set roast, rib ends up, in a 12- by 15-inch roasting pan. Roast in a 475| over until a thermometer inserted in thickest part of meat against the bone registers 140| for rare, 25 to 30 minutes; or 150| for medium, about 35 minutes. Put lamb on a platter; spoon couscous into center no higher than trimmed ribs. Spoon half the vegetables on top of couscous in roast; put remaining couscous and vegetables in separate bowls. Keep foods warm.

Tilt pan and skim off fat; discard. Add broth, wine, and reserved vegetable liquid to pan; bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to loosen browned bits. Boil, uncovered, until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Drain any juices from lamb into pan. Add cream and boil until reduced to 1 1/3 cups. Remove from heat and add butter, stirring to incorporate. Pur sauce into a small bowl. Slice roast into chops; offer sauce to add to lamb, couscous, and ragout. Serves 8 to 10.

Vegetable ragout mixture. Trim ends from 5 medium-size zucchini (about 1 1/2 lb. total) and cut into 1 1/2-inch-thick slices. Peel, core, and cut into wedges 2 medium-size firm-ripe tomatoes. Cut 1 large onion into eighths. Peel 3 large carrots (about 3/4 lb. total), and cut into 1-inch-thick slices. Stem, seed, and cut 1 each medium-size red and yellow bell pepper (or 2 of either) into 1 inch pieces.

Couscous. In a 2- to 3-quart pan over high heat, bring 3 cups regular-strength chicken broth and 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or margarine to boiling. Stir in 2 cups couscous; remove from heat, cover, and let stand until liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Stir with a fork to fluff. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Lamb Tournedos on Artichoke Bottoms with Tarragon Beurre Blanc

1 boned lamb loin (about 1 1/2 lb.), fat trimmed, rolled and tied

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2/3 cup each regular-strength chicken broth and dry white wine

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons minced shallots

2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dry tarragon leaves

1/2 cup whipping cream

1/4 cup (1/8 lb.) butter or margarine

Cooked artichoke bottoms (directions follow)

Black peppercorns

Sprinkle lamb with half the pepper; set on a rack in a 9- by 13-inch pan. Roast lamb in a 475| oven until a thermometer inserted in center of meat registers 140| for rare, 20 to 25 minutes, or 150| for medium, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a platter; keep warm.

In a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over high heat, combine broth, wine, mustard, shallots, tarragon, and remaining pepper. Boil, uncovered, until reduced by half, about 5 minutes; add cream and boil until reduced to 1 cup. Remove from heat and add butter; stir constantly to incorporate.

Serve, or, to keep warm up to 2 hours, pour sauce into a warmed thermos and close. (Or pour sauce into a bowl and set in a container of hot water, changing water to keep sauce hot up to 2 hours.)

Cut lamb crosswise into 8 equal slices. Spoon half the sauce onto each of 4 heated dinner plates. Set 2 artichokes in sauce on each plate. Set lamb on artichokes. Pour remaining sauce over meat; garnish with a few peppercorns. Serves 4.

Cooked artichoke bottoms. In a 3- to 4-quart pan, combine 6 cups water with 1/4 cup vinegar; set aside.

Pull off and discard tough outer leaves from 8 large artichokes (at least 3 in. across); trim stems flush with bottoms. Snap back larger leaves, then pull away, leaving fleshy base of each leaf attached; discard leaves. When you reach the pale inner leaves, trim off tops flush with top of artichoke base; discard leaves. Pare coarse fibers from artichoke sides; add artichokes to water as trimmed.

Bring water to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer until artichokes are tender when pierced, about 30 minutes; drain. Scoop out and discard fuzzy centers; use artichokes hot, or cover and chill up to overnight. To reheat, place in an 8- or 9-inch-square pan, cover, and bake with lamb until hot, 10 to 12 minutes.

Herb-crusted Grilled Leg of Lamb and Tomatoes with Garlic Potatoes Gratin

1 leg of lamb, 5 1/2 to 6 pounds

3 cloves garlic, cut into quarters

1 tablespoon each minced fresh leaves of thyme, rosemary, marjoram, sage, and mint (or 1 teaspoon each of the dry herb leaves)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cracked pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

Herbed tomatoes (recipe follows)

Garlic potatoes gratin (recipe follows)

Trim excess fat from lamb and discard. Cut 12 gashes in leg and insert garlic. Combine thyme, rosemary, marjoram, sage, mint, salt, and pepper; rub lamb with oil, then herbs.

In a barbecue with lid, ignite 50 charcoal briquets on firegrate. When briquets are covered with gray ash (30 to 40 minutes), push half the coals to each side of grate and place a drip pan in center. Position grill 4 to 6 inches above coals. Set lamb on grill over pan. Add 5 briquets to each side of coal bed. Cover barbecue and open dampers. Every 30 minutes, add 5 more briquets to each side of coal bed.

Roast lamb until a thermometer inserted in thickest part of meat (against bone) registers 140| for rare, about 1 1/4 hours. Transfer meat to a platter and surround with herbed tomatoes; accompany with potatoes. To carve lamb, grasp narrow end of leg with a cloth and slice meat parallel to bone. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Herbed tomatoes. Rinse 6 to 8 large (about 2 lb. total) firm-ripe Roma-type tomatoes; slice in half lengthwise. Set cut side up in a 10- by 15-inch baking pan. Combine 1 1/2 teaspoons each minced fresh leaves of thyme, rosemary, marjoram, sage, and mint (or 1/2 teaspoon each of the dry herb leaves) with 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs; sprinkle tomatoes with herb mixture. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over tomato halves. Bake in a 450| oven until tomatoes soften and crumbs are golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Season to taste with salt.

Garlic potatoes gratin. Butter a shallow 2 1/2-quart pan or baking dish. Peel 6 large russet potatoes (about 5 lb. total) and thinly slice. Overlap slices in pan, making level. Sprinkle potatoes with 1 teaspoon salt (optional) and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Combine 1 1/2 cups whipping cream or half-and-half (light cream) with 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine and 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed; pour over potatoes.

Bake, uncovered, in a 450| oven until potatoes are brown and tender when pierced, about 45 minutes. Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups (6 oz.) shredded Swiss cheese over potatoes; bake until cheese melts, 8 to 10 minutes longer.

Photo: Crown roast holds couscous topped with vegetable ragout. Three lamb racks, joined, form the crown; carve between bones

Photo: Lamb loin slices rest on artichoke hearts; tarragon sauce flavors all

Photo: Leg of lamb is carved French-style, parallel to bone; rarer meat comes with center slices. Baked tomatoes and gratin potatoes go with barbecued meat
COPYRIGHT 1988 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:recipes
Date:Apr 1, 1988
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