Leg of Lamb – 10/31/10

I’m not sure what inspired me to roast a small piece of a leg of lamb. Somewhere in my mind I’d been wanting to do something with lamb…whether it be with the chops, shank or leg. The deal was sealed when I saw the perfect-sized piece of roast at my local Bristol Farms.

I got a boneless piece of roast which I liked because I could stuff it with various herbs before tying the roast together. I used fresh rosemary, thyme, garlic and…of course…salt and pepper. My method of cooking this would be simple – sear then finish in the oven low and slow – around 200 degrees. Conveniently, I was working on a pork confit at the same time in the oven at 200 degrees. I often like to roast things at a pretty low temperature, taking a page out of Cook’s Illustrated and Ad Hoc at Home. Roasting at a higher temperature tends to overcook and dry out the exterior of a roast before the whole thing is cooked through. With a lower temperature, I would be able to maximize the amount of perfectly-cooked medium meat.

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I was aiming for a medium temperature on the meat. I took it out when my thermometer read 133 degrees and let it rest, though I felt the meat ended up being closer to medium-rare. Still good though.

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I completed my plate with some garlic sauteed spinach, and a mint-based salsa verde on top. I just tossed in fresh parsley, mint, garlic, anchovies, and capers into my food processor while continually adding olive oil. I forgot to buy a lemon (dammit!), so I was missing some of the acidity I was looking for.

In all though, I was pretty happy with my lamb!

Lasagna – 10/30/10

I really enjoy a good lasagna, but I’m pretty picky. It seems every Italian establishment has some variation of the dish, and they vary widely in types of meat, types of cheese, vegetables, mushrooms…you name it. I like my lasagnas heavy on the meat and the noodles, so I often find my homemade dish the most satisfying.

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I like my lasagna pretty simple. I often experiment with various types of meats…sausages, ground beef, veal and pork, but I keep to fairly standard mozzarella cheese and a basic tomato sauce.

I started with making a quick tomato sauce. I first seared the beef, then sauteed the shallots and garlic before crushing some San Marzano tomatoes. I simmered this down with fresh basil and the beef just until my sauce reached the consistency I wanted. Then, I just started layering my sauce, no-boil lasagna noodles (so convenient!), and parmesan and mozzarella cheeses all the way to the top of my dish.

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After about an hour in the oven…voila! I was actually pretty lucky to get a perfectly browned crust on top. I was pretty happy with this lasagna as the ratio of noodles, meat, sauce and cheese was just to my liking. My lasagnas can be fairly inconsistent, but this one was a winner!