Monday, March 29, 2010

Roasted leg of lamb with lamb jus, grilled asparagus with red pepper and piquillo sauce, and saffron rice

The last time I bought a leg of lamb for a dinner party, the butcher did such a number on the leg that I had to braise it instead of roast it. Ever since, I've been looking for an excuse to get another leg of lamb for a roast. This weekend our local grocery store was stocked up with lamb roasts for passover, so we picked one up and went over to my sister's for a pre-passover dinner.

In addition to the leg of lamb, I made grilled asparagus with a roasted pepper sauce, and saffron rice. The lamb and rice recipes are from the Ad Hoc at Home cookbook that I've been using a lot lately.
The lamb and rice recipes are both pretty straight forward, so I'll just paraphrase them here. You can check out the cookbook if you want more detail.

As with any roast, you want to bring the lamb out of the fridge early enough so that it can come up to room temperature before you put it in the oven. Make several incisions in the roast an insert garlic cloves, halved lengthwise. I made a few more deep incisions down the length of the roast for sprigs of rosemary and thyme. Cover the roast with canola oil and season with a big dose of salt and pepper. Place the leg on a roasting rack and sprinkle with more rosemary and thyme. The recipe recommends roasting at 325 F until the internal temperature near the bone is 135F. I decided to use a lower heat (275F) instead, then I let the roast rest for 30-45 minutes before blasting it in the oven at 475F for about 10 minutes to generate a nice crust. I thought this method worked really well. Using the lower heat ensures very even cooking throughout the whole roast, and finishing it off with high heat after resting give you a nice crispy exterior without cooking the rest of the meat (see here for a more thorough explanation of how this works). The lamb was served with a lamb jus that was a variation of this recipe.

For the rice, just mince up an onion very small, cook with some oil over medium heat until translucent, add two cups of short grain rice and a teaspoon of saffron and cook for another 3 to4 minutes, add about 3 cups of chicken stock and bring to simmer, stirring occasionally. Put a lid on the pan and let simmer over low heat. Test occasionally, and add more heated stock as necessary until the rice is cooke through. When finished, season with a pinch of salt.

The asparagus was grilled with a little salt, pepper, and paprika and served with a sauce made from roasted red and piquillo peppers that I had made for brunch the day before. This sauce makes a great topping for asparagus, but it would go well with any number of grilled vegetables.

1 roast red bell pepper, seeds and skin removed
1 roasted piquillo pepper
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp white miso paste
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
olive oil

Combine all the ingredients in a blender. Start with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add more until it gets to a consistency that you like. I don't remember the exact amounts I used for the miso, vinegar, soy, and sugar, so you may need to adjust these ingredients until you get the right balance of flavors. The vinegar and sugar gives a nice sweet and sour element to the sauce, while the miso and soy help add depth.

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