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Friday, July 8, 2011

Inderepentance Day Sacrificial Lamb

My sister Laundry Queen told me last week that my blog is "lame." I think mostly because I haven't posted. So I'll try to remedy that, at least in some part.

I don't recall the genesis of this idea, but I had a 4-lb boneless leg of lamb in the freezer left over from when Mavis bought the largest leg of lamb he could find at the farmers' market for Easter dinner, and it wasn't large enough for the crowd we would be feeding. I already knew that leg of lamb worked well when roasted low and slow, plus it's summer (finally!) and I hadn't dusted off the grill yet, so I decided we needed Pulled Lamb Sandwiches. Pulled pork sandwiches are made on soft rolls with barbecue sauce and buttermilk coleslaw, but that wouldn't work as well for lamb. I wanted Mediterranean flavors, and a quick web search turned up this recipe from the Food Network, from which I stole the mint pesto and the mascarpone cheese. Nick Zukin's evangelizing has converted me to the idea of balancing the other flavors in a sandwich with something sweet and tangy, so I tried this recipe for pickled red onion, using stick cinnamon, whole cloves, whole allspice, whole juniper berries, whole mustard seed, and whole peppercorns--basically most of the whole spices in my cupboard (no coriander or cumin). Add some lettuce for crunch (should have thought of thinly sliced cucumber!), feta for zing, assemble on ciabatta panini, and I thought I had a pretty great theoretical sandwich.

The pickled red onion. I have two jars of pink stuff in my fridge now--the other is almost exactly the same color, but contains rhubarb compote I plan to incorporate into experimental rhubarb macarons with rhubarb buttercream. Stay tuned for that one.

The meat, just after moving to the cool side of the grill. I browned it well, then moved it over and closed the lid for a couple of hours, until the temp on the grill started dipping. Then I moved it to a foil-covered roasting pan and finished it in the oven at 300 for a couple more hours.

After I moved the meat inside, I used the residual heat to brown the brown-and-serve rolls. The ciabatta panini from Delphina's (visible at the right, tucked underneath the other rolls) were perfectly what I had envisioned, but there was only one package of four left at Food Front when I was shopping. The other rolls are petit pains and dinner rolls (for the kids) from Marsee. I didn't try the Marsee breads, but they all got eaten so I guess they were acceptable. :)

Shredding the meat. Look at that beautiful caramelization!

Beginning assembly: mint pesto on one side, mascarpone, feta and chèvre (I added this to the mix after crumbling the feta and finding it Very Salty) on the other.

Add meat, pickled onion and lettuce.

Devour. (My left index finger is really not as deformed as it looks in this picture.)

Other food on the table (obviously not exciting enough to be photographed) included an arugula (from J&J's garden!) salad with dried Oregon cranberries and Bing cherries and almonds with marionberry vinaigrette, and watermelon.