Tag Archives: lamb

Rosemary and Porcini Crusted Lamb Loin Chops

Lamb tf

A rub of crushed dried porcini mushrooms and finely chopped rosemary creates an umami-rich crust for lamb. I use a food processor to blitz the mushrooms before continuing to chop them by hand with the rosemary, resulting in a coarse rub. A spice grinder will create a finer crust.

Lamb cru tf

Porcini and Rosemary Crusted Lamb Loin Chops

Serves 4.

8 lamb loin chops, about 1 inch thick
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup finely ground dried porcini mushrooms
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary leaves

Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Combine 2 tablespoons oil and the garlic in a bowl. Smear all over the lamb. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
Thirty minutes before roasting, remove the lamb from the refrigerator. Combine the mushrooms and rosemary in a small bowl. Coat both sides of the lamb with the rub. Let stand at room temperature, 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C). Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat in a large ovenproof skillet. Add the lamb without overcrowding. Cook until brown on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the skillet to oven. Bake until cooked to desired doneness, 10 to 15 minutes for medium-rare. Remove from oven, tent with foil and let rest 15 minutes before serving.

Lamb, Bulgur and Chickpea Stew with Roasted Eggplant

lamb bulgur stew tastefood

The other day, for the first time I made kibbeh, the Lebanese version of kefta or croquettes. A key ingredient in kibbeh is bulgur (cracked wheat), which was a revelation to me. I was afraid the bulgur would add a mealiness to the croquettes, but in fact it remained firm, adding a satisfying bite (and crunch when pan fried) to the ground meat. I liked this combination so much I decided to try it in a stew with tomatoes, white wine and plenty of spices. The bulgur slurped up the liquid producing a thick and dense ragout. While it could easily have been served in bowls as a hearty stew, I spooned it over roasted eggplant to lighten it up a bit. The results resembled a deconstructed dolma or vegetable stuffed with ground meat and grains, typically served in Turkish and Middle Eastern cuisine. All that was needed was a bit of crumbled feta and fresh mint to freshen up this lovely dish, and I know I’ll be making it again.

Lamb, Bulgur and Chickpea Stew with Roasted Eggplant

Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 pound ground lamb
1/2 cup bulgur
1 cup white wine
1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes with juices
1 cup chicken stock or water
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzos) drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped green cabbage

1 medium eggplant, sliced crosswise 3/8-inch thick
Olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Crumbled feta cheese
Fresh mint leaves, torn

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion, garlic and lamb. Cook until the onion softens and the lamb browns, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and deglaze the pan, stirring up any brown bits with a wooden spoon. Add the tomatoes, stock, bulgur, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, and coriander. Simmer, partially covered, until the bulgur is tender, about 20 minutes. The stew will have thickened at this point. If desired, add more water or stock to thin to desired consistency. Add the salt and black pepper and taste for seasoning. Stir in the chickpeas and cabbage and cook over medium-low heat until the cabbage is wilted, 10 to 12 minutes.

While the stew is simmering, arrange the eggplant slices in one layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush on both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Broil on the top rack of the oven until golden brown on both sides, turning once.

To serve, spoon the ragout over the eggplant. Sprinkle with feta and garnish with mint. Serve warm.

Lamb Merguez Patties with Couscous Salad

merguez tastefood

~ Moroccan Spiced Lamb Merguez Patties ~

Feeling spicy? When I crave a good dose of spice and fragrance I head to Asia, the Middle East or North Africa…in my dreams. In reality I head to my kitchen, where I fling open the spice cabinet and get cooking. I made these merguez patties recently when I was craving the heat and heady flavors of Morocco: harissa, garlic, coriander and mint. These feisty patties hit the spot – well, an airline ticket would have really hit the spot, but, hey, this was a pretty good stand in for a school night.

What really tipped these patties for me was the use of whole spices that I toasted and ground in my mortar. If you haven’t tried doing this, then you are missing a big component in the flavor department. It’s not as complicated as it sounds, and the results are well worth it. Whole spices are readily found in the spice section of your supermarket, gourmet and spice shops – even online. When you are ready to use the spice, toast the seeds  in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Then transfer to a spice grinder or a mortar, and blitz or pound the spices until fine. The flavor is lightyears better than the pre-ground stuff.

Spicy Lamb Merguez with Couscous Tabbouleh
Makes 18 to 20 patties

1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 pounds ground lamb
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons harissa paste
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Toast the cumin, coriander and fennel seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Grind to a fine powder in a mortar with pestle. Transfer the remaining merguez ingredients to a large bowl. Add the toasted spices and mix until combined without overworking the meat. Form in 2 to 3 inch patties. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling. Grill over direct high heat or pan-fry in olive oil over medium-high heat, turning once, until brown and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.  Serve with couscous salad (recipe below), pita bread, Greek yogurt, fresh mint and extra harissa if you’re feeling really spicy.

Couscous Salad
This is a great side dish to accompany the lamb or any grilled meat. Or crumble feat cheese over the salad for a light vegetarian meal.

1 1/2 cups couscous
1 1/4 cup water
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 English cucumber, seeded, finely diced
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the couscous, water, lemon juice and olive oil in a large bowl. Let stand until liquid is absorbed and couscous is tender, about 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

Moroccan Spiced Lamb Kefta Skewers

Lamb Keftas TasteFood
~ Grilled Moroccan Lamb Keftas, Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce, Tsatsiki ~

There is something utterly complete about this meal. Homemade ground lamb keftas, fragrant with Moroccan spices, are grilled until crisp and succulent. Served with a sweet and spicy red pepper puree and cool minty yogurt sauce, these addictive morsels hit all flavor notes. They are a great option for party food, easy to prepare in advance and economical in ingredients. Just be warned that your guests will inhale these skewers before you blink, so you might need to splurge on a double recipe.

Lamb keftas plates

Spicy Lamb Kefta Skewers

Serves 4 to 6

Keftas:
2 pounds ground lamb
1 small onion, minced, about 1 cup
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup Italian parsley leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

Pre-soaked bamboo skewers
Extra-virgin olive oil

Tsatstiki:
1 1/2 cups whole milk Greek yogurt
1 small English cucumber, seeded, finely diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup mint leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash of Tabasco

Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Pita bread
Fresh mint leaves

Prepare the keftas: Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix to combine, without over-mixing. With a light hand, form a handful of the meat around a skewer into a sausage, about 2-inches long by 1-inch wide. Place on a tray or platter. Repeat with remaining meat. Lightly brush the keftas with olive oil. Cover with plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Prepare the tsatsiki: Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Keep refrigerated until use.

Grill the keftas over medium heat until cooked through, about 10 minutes, turning once or twice. (Or broil in the oven). Serve warm with tsatsiki, red pepper sauce and pita. Garnish with mint leaves.

And a special thanks to Kim for her photo editing skills on this post! Sometimes it takes a village…

Gratineed Clams with Spinach, Cheese and Crispy Lamb

clams stuffed 1 tastefood~ Gratinéed Clams with Spinach, Cheese and Crispy Lamb ~

It’s the final challenge of the Lambs + Clams Contest. For the past 4 months I have been 1 of 8 national bloggers assigned to devise a recipe using lamb provided by Border Springs Farm or shellfish from Rappahannock River Oysters, culminating in the Charleston Wine and Food Festival in March. For this final contest we received a variety pack. Think surf and turf – Lambs and Clams style – namely 2 pounds of ground lamb and 25 plump middleneck clams. I admit, these are 2 ingredients I’ve never combined in one recipe, but, hey, there’s always a first time. And I love a good challenge.

Right away I considered a Mediterranean inspired stew, imagining poached clams in a robust tomato broth, with spicy lamb keftas standing in for chorizo. But: I have already created a recipe somewhat similar to that.  It did get me thinking, though, of lamb doing double duty for something else, like, say, bacon. Now, had I received a hunk of meat, I could have made my own lamb bacon, but I had ground lamb instead. So why not spice and cook the minced lamb to a point of crispness, where it could stand in for crumbled bacon? Hmmmm.

Which brings me to the weather – as all musings and ramblings do at some point. For the record, it’s cold,  grey and  wintery at the moment, which in my book is the perfect climate for warm, cheesy gratinéed food. A picture was beginning to form of a gratinéed clam on a halfshell crowned with crispy spiced minced lamb. And since it’s the New Year when healthy resolutions abound, I added a mound of spinach to the mix.

So if you give a cook a challenge, then you get…

clams stuffed tastefood

Gratinéed Clams with Spinach, Cheese and Crispy Lamb

For the spinach:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
6 ounces spinach leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano cheese

For the lamb:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound ground lamb
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

16 middleneck or Manila clams

Finely grated Parmigiano cheese for sprinkling
Fresh Italian parsley leaves, chopped, for garnish

Prepare the spinach:
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté until fragrant, 1 minute. Add spinach. Sauté until leaves wilt. Add salt. Transfer spinach to a cutting board. Cool slightly, then coarsely chop. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the cheese.

Prepare the lamb:
Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add lamb. Cook, stirring, until fat renders and lamb is brown. Drain and return lamb to the skillet. Add paprika, salt, pepper and cayenne. Sauté briefly to combine. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add clams. Reduce heat to medium and partially cover. Cook until the clams open, about 5 minutes. Drain clams. (Discard any unopened clams). When cool enough to handle, pry apart the shells; discard the tops. Carefully loosen the clam muscle from the shell, leaving the clam in the bottom half of each shell.

Heat oven broiler. Place a heaping teaspoon of spinach over a each clam. Top with a teaspoon of lamb. Liberally sprinkle with cheese. Place in a baking dish. Broil until the lamb is crispy brown and the clams are sizzling, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve warm.

If you like this recipe, please hop over to the Charleston Wine and Food Festival’s Facebook page where you will find all of the entries to the contest. To vote, you will have to ‘Like’ the page, and then click on the ‘vote’ tab in the navigation bar.

I would like to thank the folks at BBT’s Charleston Wine and Food Festival for sponsoring this contest and inviting me to participate. I also thank  Border Springs Farm and Rappahannock River Oysters for supplying gorgeous products for each challenge. Next month will be so uneventful without one of their packages arriving.

And have a look at the other contest participants’ blogs:
Peter Barrett @ A Cook Blog
Olga Berman @ Mango Tomato
David Dadekian @ Eat Drink RI
Gwen Pratesi @ Bunkycooks
Heather Scholten @ Farmgirl Gourmet
Cecilia Stoute @ One Vanilla Bean
Vivek Surti @ Vivek’s Epicurean Adventures

Lettuce Wraps: Pomegranate Lacquered Lamb with Quinoa Pilaf and Spicy Hummus

Lamb Pomegranate TasteFood

Charleston Wine & Food Festival – Lambs + Clams Contest
Round 3 WINNER!
 Pomegranate Lacquered Lamb Lettuce Wraps
Quinoa Pilaf and Spicy Hummus

This month’s Lambs+Clams Contest, sponsored by the BB&T Charleston Wine Food Festival, featured a gorgeous slab of lamb shoulder provided by Border Springs Farm. I knew the lamb was coming and had some time to think about how I would like to prepare the meat. Lamb shoulder is a braising meat, best suited for slow cooking. The French famously do this in an all-day production, aptly named Gigot de Sept Heures, or Seven Hour Lamb. While I appreciate this method of slow cooking a tough cut of meat into supple submission with wine and aromatics, the end result is incredibly rich. After a few mouthfuls I find myself craving acidity and freshness to balance the unctuous meat.

This led me to think of Bo Ssam. Bo Ssam is a Korean specialty of slow roasted pork belly or shoulder, cured in sugar and salt. The pork slowly softens and caramelizes while cooking, finishing in a tender heap of meat that begs to be shredded and scooped into lettuce cups with rice and spicy chile sauce. The difference is that I had lamb, not pork, so I headed to the Middle East for inspiration. I generously salted the meat and coated it with a pomegranate molasses marinade and left it to brine overnight. Quinoa pilaf studded with pomegranate and mint replaced the rice, while a ramped up hummus spiked with harissa and extra lemon added heat and acidity. You might say that this was an around the world tour of inspiration: West meets East meets Middle East.

* Thank you for your votes! This was the winning recipe in Round 3. Please visit the Charleston Wine and Food Festival’s Facebook page to see all the entries to this month’s contest.

Lamb Pomegranate Lettuce TasteFood

Don’t be daunted by the length of this recipe. Most of the time involved is braising time. The quinoa and hummus are easy to make and may be prepared in advance of serving (they are also delicious on their own). The hardest part will be waiting while the lamb roasts and its intoxicating aroma wafts through your kitchen.

Pomegranate Lacquered Lamb Lettuce Wraps
with Quinoa Pilaf and Spicy Hummus

Begin the lamb one day before serving. While quinoa is not a Middle Eastern grain, it’s nutty and firm texture nicely complements the tender meat. Bulgur or couscous may be substituted for the quinoa. Serves 8 to 10.

Lamb:
1 (5 pound) lamb shoulder with bone
4 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
1/2 cup pomegranate molasses
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
Fresh mint leaves, chopped

Butter lettuce leaves
Spicy Hummus (recipe below)
Quinoa Pilaf (recipe below)
Pomegranate seeds
Fresh mint leaves
Lemon wedges
Hot sauce, optional

One day before serving, prepare the lamb. Score the lamb fat with a knife. Rub the lamb all over with 3 tablespoons salt. Whisk the pomegranate molasses, garlic, cumin and black pepper in a small bowl. Smear over the lamb to thoroughly coat. Arrange meat side-down in a large rimmed baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 24 hours, turning once or twice.

One hour before roasting, remove lamb from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature. Heat oven to 300 F. Transfer lamb to a roasting pan, meat-side side up. Pour any accumulated juices and marinade into a small saucepan. Roast lamb, uncovered, until very tender, about 5 hours. While the meat is roasting, boil the juices and marinade for 1 minute. Occasionally baste the meat with the marinade while roasting.

When the meat is fork tender, remove from oven and increase oven temperature to 450 F. Sprinkle lamb with 1 tablespoon salt and brown sugar. Return to oven and roast until dark brown and caramelized, about 15 minutes. Remove and cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, shred the lamb meat and place on a serving platter. Skim fat from the pan and drizzle pan juices over the lamb. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and mint.

Serve lamb family-style with Quinoa Pilaf and Spicy Hummus. Accompany with a platter of butter lettuce and bowls of pomegranate seeds, fresh mint, lemon wedges, and hot sauce.  Scoop a dab of hummus into the center of a lettuce leaf. Spoon a little quinoa over the hummus, then some of the lamb. Garnish with pomegranate seeds, mint and a squeeze of lemon juice – hot sauce optional, but highly recommeded. Pass the napkins.

Lamb glaze~ Pomegranate Lacquered Lamb at the 4 hour mark ~

Quinoa Pilaf:
1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, green and white parts divided
1 red serrano or jalapeno chile, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped
1 garlic clove
1 1/2 cups chicken stock or water
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup Italian parsley leaves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped

Place the quinoa in a fine-meshed sieve and rinse with water until the water runs clear. Drain thoroughly. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add white parts of the scallions, chile and garlic. Saute 2 minutes. Add quinoa and cook, stirring, to coat, 1 minute. Add stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until quinoa is tender and the little white tails are showing on the grains. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Add lemon, cumin, salt and pepper, to taste. Cool to luke warm. Stir in the pomegranate, parsley and mint. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Hummus:
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Juice of 2 lemons, about 1/2 cup
1/4 cup Greek-style whole milk yogurt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tahini
2 to 3 teaspoons harissa paste, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

Combine all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Taste for seasoning. Hummus should not be too thick. If necessary, thin with additional olive oil. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Check out the other recipe posts from the other contest participants:
Peter Barrett @ A Cook Blog
Olga Berman @ Mango Tomato
David Dadekian @ Eat Drink RI
Gwen Pratesi @ Bunkycooks
Heather Scholten @ Farmgirl Gourmet
Cecilia Stoute @ One Vanilla Bean
Vivek Surti @ Vivek’s Epicurean Adventures

Lambs + Clams: A new contest and a recipe for Moroccan Spiced Lamb

I was delighted to be asked by the folks at The Charleston Wine and Food Festival to participate in a food blog event and contest called Lambs + Clams.  This event will promote the annual festival while celebrating the purveyors and farmers who supply their products to the Charleston region. Four monthly recipe contests will be held in the lead up to the festival which opens February 28, 2013. Each contest will spotlight either lamb, clams or oysters supplied by Craig Rogers of Border Springs Farm and Travis Croxton of Rappahannock River Oysters, both of whom provide their quality products to top chefs and restaurants all over the Eastern seaboard. Each month a winner will be selected by a panel of judges and “fan votes” on the Festival’s facebook page (so feel free to vote, if you like!)

I am flattered and honored to be selected to compete with 7 talented food bloggers (listed below) from around the country in this event. By now you should know I love a good challenge, so I did not hesitate to accept. Let the games begin!

This month the contest kicks off with a challenge to create a recipe for a leg of lamb from Border Springs Farm. You can imagine how excited I was to receive my lamb – the anticipation felt like Christmas. It arrived in a BIG box, and I eagerly unpacked a gorgeous, glistening boneless leg of lamb weighing in at 5.4 pounds. Christmas came early this year.

I love to travel, and when I am not traveling, I bring my bucket list of destinations home to my kitchen for cooking inspiration. With that motivation, I decided to create a lamb recipe fragrant with the heat and spice of northern Africa and made a thick fiery marinade heady with Mediterranean spices, garlic, lemon and mint. One deep whiff made my fingers and toes tingle and transported me to Morocco, the sands of the sahara and an aromatic souk. It was all I could do to keep from slurping it up with a spoon.

I smeared and massaged the lamb with the marinade – yes, that’s right: massaging helps to work the spices into the meat. I could also just say “work the marinade into the meat with your fingers” but massage sounds so much nicer. Then came the hardest part – waiting. The longer the wait, the better. The lamb should marinate overnight, or even for 2 days if you can stand it. (When time is truly an issue, 8 hours will do, but overnight is best).

Once you’ve mastered the waiting part, the recipe is very easy to prepare, and the results are outstanding, yielding a succulent, exotically aromatic leg of lamb with a subtle kick of heat. To serve the lamb, I roasted an assortment of late summer vegetables (chinese eggplant, sweet peppers, onions and zucchini) with olive oil, garlic and salt and scattered them around the meat. There was plenty to share, so a few friends joined us as well,  and we all enjoyed this wonderful pre-Christmas gift of lamb.

Moroccan Spiced Lamb with Lemon, Mint and Yogurt

Ground cumin and coriander may be substituted for the seeds, however the flavor is best if you toast and grind your own seeds. Serves 6 to 8.

Marinade:
2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro sprigs (or Italian parsley)
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
4 garlic cloves, minced
Zest from one lemon
1 tablespoon Sriracha or harissa
3 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 3-4 pound boned leg of lamb, butterflied

Yogurt Sauce:
1 1/2 cups Greek-style whole milk yogurt
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Prepare the marinade: Toast cumin and coriander seeds in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a mortar with pestle and grind to a fine powder. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add remaining marinade ingredients and whisk to blend. Make small incisions in the fat and meat of the lamb. Rub the marinade all over the lamb, massaging it into the meat and folds with your fingers. Place lamb in a rimmed baking dish. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

One hour before roasting, remove the lamb from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature. If grilling, prepare the grill for direct and indirect cooking over medium heat. Grill the lamb for 10 minutes over direct heat to sear, skin-side down, turning once. Move to indirect heat and grill, covered, turning once or twice, until medium-rare (a meat thermometer inserted in thickest part will read 130 F), 20 to 30 minutes. If roasting, place lamb in a roasting pan. Roast in a preheated 425 F. oven, skin-side up, for about 30 minutes for medium-rare, turning once. Finish under a broiler, skin side up, for a few minutes to brown meat. Allow lamb to rest for 10 minutes, loosely covered with foil, before carving.

To make the yogurt sauce, whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Arrange the lamb on a serving platter. If you roasted vegetables, scatter them around the lamb. Garnish with fresh herbs. Serve with the yogurt sauce.

For more Lambs+Clams inspiration, visit my fellow food bloggers and check out their recipes:

Peter @ A Cook Blog
Olga @ Mango Tomato
David @ eat drink RI
Gwen @ Bunkycooks
Heather @ Farmgirl Gourmet
Cecilia @ One Vanilla Bean
Vivek @ Vivek’s Epicurean Adventure

Lamb Stew with Raisins and Honey

~ Moroccan Lamb Stew with Raisins and Honey ~

It’s the time of year when I have an urge to travel. Call it cabin fever, restlessness, or simply the craving to be somewhere different, where it’s warm, spicy and balmy. The sights, smells and sounds of new cultures are revitalizing. Time slows down, and the smallest details are observed and savored  amidst a kaleidescope of impressions. It just so happens that this is also the time of year when my urge to travel collides with real life. It’s the middle of the school year, I have work deadlines, and the contents of my piggy bank were spent at Christmas. So I improvise, and my travels occur in the kitchen, where I replace my passport with the jars in my spice drawer and concoct recipes inspired by the exotic flavors, heat and aromas of far flung destinations.

This lamb stew takes inspiration from a traditional Moroccan meat and vegetable tagine and Mrouzia, a rich celebratory stew prepared in the days following  Eid Al Kebir  - or the Festival of Sacrifice. It’s meant to be sweet, enhanced with dried fruit and honey, but I have scaled the sweetness back to my taste while adding tomato paste and carrots for more freshness.  The spice list is lengthy, but attainable. It’s a compilation of spices similar to those found in Ras El Hanout, a spice blend that is a staple in North African cuisine.

Lamb Tagine with Raisins and Honey
Serves 4

1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Salt
2 pounds lamb leg or shoulder, excess fat trimmed, cut in 1 inch chunks
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger with juice
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 carrots, cut in 1/4 inch slices
1 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon honey, or to taste

Combine all of the dried spices and 1 teaspoon salt together in a small bowl. Toss the lamb with 2 tablespoons olive oil in another bowl. Add the spices to the lamb; mix to thoroughly coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a dutch oven or large pot with a lid. Add lamb in one layer in batches, without overcrowding. Brown on all sides. Transfer to a plate. Add onion, garlic and ginger to the same pot. Saute until fragrant and onion begins to soften, 2 minutes. Return lamb with any collected juices to the pot. Add chicken stock, tomato paste and 1 teaspoon salt. Add more stock, if necessary, to cover the lamb.
Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until lamb is very tender, about 2 hours.
When lamb is tender, add carrots and raisins. Simmer, uncovered, until sauce reduces and thickens to a thick stew consistency and the carrots are tender, about 30  minutes.  Stir in honey. Taste for seasoning. Serve warm, spooned over couscous.

If you like this, you might enjoy these recipes:
French Lentil and Sausage Soup from Oui Chef
Pork Stew with Prunes and Armagnac from TasteFood
Chicken Stew with Kale and Cannellini Beans from the Kitchn
Coq au Vin from TasteFood
Beef and Sweet Potato Stew from Joy the Baker

Homemade Merguez

For this month’s Charcutepalooza event, we were challenged  to make our own bulk sausage, either as breakfast sausage, merguez or chorizo. This one had my full attention. If it’s possible to express sentiment over a sausage, then the merguez would be considered my first true love in the charcuterie department.

I first ate merguez when I lived in Paris.  They were unlike any sausage I ever tasted. Finger-thin, lean in fat and fiery red hot, these North African sausages were the wizened angry little men of sausages – taut, feisty and not to be underestimated. They were easily found in the myriad couscous restaurants sprinkled throughout the city, from street vendors and specialty markets. Eaten alone, with couscous, or in a bun with frites and sauce – merguez were the essence of Morocco. Fragrant with cumin, coriander and sumac, dry and hot like the desert heat, and fiery red with harissa – one bite and you were transported.

Since then, and following moves further north in Europe and to the U.S., those merguez have become a food memory, frequently reminisced at the dinner table and used as a point of comparison (without success) when encountering other sausages calling themselves merguez. So far, nothing I have eaten replicates the North African merguez I tasted in France.

So, this month’s Charcutepalooza challenge was particularly exciting. Why not try to make my own merguez? While I had no illusion of immediately recreating my distant memory of perfection, I would use the bulk sausage challenge as an opportunity to tinker with flavor, spice and heat before any fussing with stuffing the casings. I would form simple patties which I would stuff in pita bread. While the patties may be the lazy oafish cousin to the taut, skinny merguez sausage, the hope was that the taste would be undeniably related.

Merguez Bulk Sausage

I followed the technique for making bulk sausage from Charcuterie and formed the meat into small patties, or keftas. As for the spices, I concocted a heady mix of harissa, coriander, cumin, fennel and sumac. If needed, I planned to add lamb fat rather than pork fat, since the merguez I ate in France were Halaal. This proved unnecessary, however, since lamb shoulder provided enough fat for my taste.

1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon cumin seed
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons harissa paste
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sumac
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound ground lamb shoulder
Olive oil

Toast fennel, coriander and cumin seeds in a small pan over medium heat until fragrant, 1 minute. Transfer to a mortar with pestle or spice grinder, and grind until fine. Combine in a bowl with all of the remaining ingredients except the lamb. Stir to form a paste. Add lamb and thoroughly mix together with your hands. Form into 1 1/2 inch patties. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add patties, without overcrowding, in batches. Cook, turning once, until brown on both sides. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel and keep warm. Repeat with remaining patties.
Serve with pita bread, harissa sauce, Greek style yogurt and fresh mint leaves.

What is Charcutepalooza?
An inspirational idea hatched by Cathy Barrow and Kim Foster and partnering with Food52 and Punk Domestics. It celebrates a Year in Meat, where participating foodies and bloggers will cure, smoke and salt their way through Michael Ruhlman‘s bestselling cookbook Charcuterie.

Porcini and Rosemary Crusted Lamb Loin Chops

Crushed dried porcini mushrooms tossed together with finely chopped rosemary create an umami-rich crust for meat. This is a method I often use with beef. Then a good friend told me about a similar recipe she loves with lamb. So I had to try – especially since spring is the season for lamb.

I used a food processor to blitz the mushrooms before continuing to chop them by hand with the rosemary, resulting in a coarser rub. A spice grinder will create a finer crust.

Porcini and Rosemary Crusted Lamb Loin Chops

This recipe is also delicious prepared on the grill. Makes 8.

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large garlic clove, minced
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 lamb loin chops
1/4 cup finely ground dried porcini mushrooms
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary leaves

Combine 2 tablespoons oil and garlic in a bowl. Smear over both sides of the lamb. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Refrigerate 1-2 hours. Combine mushrooms and rosemary in a small bowl. Remove lamb from refrigerator. Coat both sides of lamb with mushrooms. Let sit at room temperature, 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 F. (190 C.) Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet. Add lamb without overcrowding. Cook until brown on both sides, turning once, 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer skillet to oven. Bake until cooked to desired doneness, 10 – 15 minutes for medium-rare. Remove from oven, tent with foil and let rest 15 minutes before serving.

If you like this, you might enjoy these TasteFood recipes:
Mint and Feta Stuffed Leg of Lamb with Balsamic Blood Orange Sauce
Lamb Kefta and Vegetable Couscous

Grilled Steak with Rosemary, Shiitakes and Garlic Scapes

or these recipes from the food blogs:
Marinated Lamb Loin Chops from Cooking with Amy
Pulled Lamb Sandwich from Guilty Kitchen
Lamb Green Chili from No Recipes