Ham of Lamb with Salt-Roasted Beetroot

Usually I first pick a dish and then the wine, but for the antipasto for this year’s Christmas dinner I did it the other way around. A friend of ours had brought a sparkling red from the Loire region, made from cabernet franc. I thought it would be great with the ham of lamb that I made last year, when paired with some salt-roasted beetroot. This way of preparing beetroot concentrates the flavor without making the beets too salty. Continue reading “Ham of Lamb with Salt-Roasted Beetroot”

Rack of Lamb with Carrot Puree, Thyme, Ginger and Cumin

I had a craving for rack of lamb after seeing Conor’s post on herbed rack of lamb. I picked up a nice rack of lamb, thinking I’d serve it with a sauce with a hint of ginger. When I thought about what to serve with it, I also remembered Conor’s post about carrot and ginger soup. And so I decided to serve the lamb with a carrot puree. Carrot, ginger, and cumin go well together, and lamb, ginger, and cumin go well together. So then lamb, carrot, ginger, and cumin should all go well together. And they did! There was only a hint of the thyme, ginger, and cumin in the final dish, but they did bring out the flavor of the lamb and the carrots very nicely. Continue reading “Rack of Lamb with Carrot Puree, Thyme, Ginger and Cumin”

A Sous-Vide Experiment with an Unexpected Result

The internet is such a great place. Not only have I met my husband online (in the previous century, when that was not common yet), but it is also a great source of inspiration and help. When I wrote about the bad smell that I got just once when I cooked wagyu beef sous-vide, one of my readers, a guy called Guido, pointed me to a post on SeriousEats where a representative of SousVide Surpreme wrote:  “An odd smell occasionally occurs in long cooking of meat (beef, pork, probably lamb) because the low temp doesn’t kill off lactobacillus type bacteria (the ones used in making cheese, buttermilk, yogurt). This bacteria is not harmful, it just may give the meat a ‘stinky cheese’ odor. The meat can be seared and eaten and it won’t affect the quality or flavor of the meat. It can be minimized by searing all sides of the meat (the bacteria are on the surface) with a kitchen torch or on the stove top before vacuum sealing and cooking.”

I think that it is quite likely that some lactobacillus type bacteria was the culprit making my wagyu beef stink. It also made me realize that the funky smell that tough cuts of lamb (shoulder or neck) often gets when I cook it for a long time may not be attributed to the lamb being male after all.

Since the bacteria are on the surface and the SVS guys advised that it can be minimized (but apparently not completely eliminated) by searing all sides of the meat before vacuum sealing and cooking, I thought it might be even better to scald the meat in boiling water before vacuum sealing and cooking to eliminate the bacteria completely.

To test my theory, I bought a piece of lamb shoulder and experimented with it. Continue reading “A Sous-Vide Experiment with an Unexpected Result”

Spaghetti alla Chitarra con RagĂč di Agnello e Peperoni (Fresh Pasta with Lamb and Bell Pepper Sauce)

Next time I’ll be visiting the Italian region of Abruzzo I’ll have to watch out, because I’m cheating in this post. Every region of Italy has its own pasta shapes, and for Abruzzo this is the Spaghetti alla Chitarra, also called Maccheroni alla Chitarra. In other regions this type of pasta is called tonnarelli or troccoli.

Spaghetti alla Chitarra are thick square fresh egg noodles, made from semolina flour and with a thickness and width of 2 to 3 mm (1/12 to 1/8 inch). They are called “alla chitarra” because they are traditionally made with a guitar-like device, which has a wooden frame strung with metal wires. The pasta dough is first rolled out with a rolling pin, then arranged on top of the metal wires, and then a rolling pin is used to press the pasta through the wires and thus cut it. You guessed it: chitarra is the Italian word for guitar. The device helps to give the pasta a rough surface, ideal for sauce to cling to.

I don’t own such a device, but since I do own a tagliolini attachment for my pasta roller with a width of 2-3 mm, I figured I can cheat and prepare something very close to spaghetti alla guitarra using the attachment for tagliolini. To get square pasta, the thickness of the dough should also be 2-3 mm. Spaghetti alla chitarra should be served very much al dente, with a lot of bite to them, so it is important not to overcook them.

One of the traditional ways to serve spaghetti alla chitarra in Abruzzo is with a ragĂč of lamb and bell peppers, flavored with garlic and bay leaf, and that is what I dressed the spaghetti alla chitarra with. It turned out wonderfully and I will definitely make this again. The ragĂč is made with fresh tomatoes and has a very elegant taste. Continue reading “Spaghetti alla Chitarra con RagĂč di Agnello e Peperoni (Fresh Pasta with Lamb and Bell Pepper Sauce)”

Lamb and Eggplant Meatballs

Just a week after returning from my cooking on the boat adventure I have another challenge lined up, as we are participating in the gay pride canal parade in Amsterdam this Saturday and that requires a lot of preparation. As a result, I’m not cooking very elaborately this week and nothing that I haven’t blogged about before. I had some leftover lamb and eggplant ravioli stuffing in my freezer, and since I prefer to make the stuffing fresh when making ravioli for guests, I decided to turn the stuffing into meatballs by breading and frying them. This turned out great: the outside of the meatballs is nicely crispy, whereas the inside is very soft and juicy and tasty. These meatballs are so good, it would be worth making the stuffing just to prepare them.

Continue reading “Lamb and Eggplant Meatballs”

Lamb Chops ‘Scottadito’

I already blogged about lamb chops ‘scottadito’ (“burn your fingers”) in March. Back then I prepared them in the oven, but thought they would be better on a griddle or on a charcoal grill. I now tried the griddle and it turns out I was right: because of the higher heat they get a nicer crust on the outside while staying succulent on the inside. Lamb chops scottadito are so simple and so good and this time around my photos turned out better so I’m giving you the recipe again 🙂 Continue reading “Lamb Chops ‘Scottadito’”

Lamb and Goat Cheese Roulade

Summer has finally arrived and that means it time for grilling, or BBQ as we call it. For me grilling is strictly a charcoal thing, as a charcoal fire is hotter and imparts more flavor than a gas grill. Most grilling done in the Netherlands is very ‘low brow’, with cheap meat from the supermarket, with the lack of flavor masked by a reddish marinade. That is clearly not my kind of grilling. I like to use proper meat and pre-cook it sous-vide so it’s always cooked through, juicy and tender on the inside, and nicely browned on the outside. Since the meat is already cooked, visual inspection (i.e. using your eyes) is all that’s needed to decide when to remove the meat from the grill. Since I discovered last year that lamb and goat cheese go well together, I decided to make a roulade of lamb shoulder with goat cheese, pancetta, thyme, and balsamic vinegar. It turned out great! Continue reading “Lamb and Goat Cheese Roulade”

Leg of Lamb Steak Sous-vide

Good food can be surprisingly easy to prepare, especially if you have sous-vide equipment at your disposal. You could also make this with a regular oven though, but you’ll have to pay more attention to getting the meat cooked just right. Lamb is one of my favorite meats, with rack of lamb one of my favorite cuts. Leg of lamb can be cooked whole, but you can also cook a slice of leg of lamb as a steak. Here I am serving it with a red wine demi-glace sauce. Assuming that you already have the lamb demi-glace, there isn’t a whole lot to it. Just cook the meat sous-vide, sear it, and deglaze the pan to make the sauce. Here’s what I did. Continue reading “Leg of Lamb Steak Sous-vide”

Lamb with Lemon-Egg Sauce (Abbacchio Brodettato)

As I mentioned in my earlier posts this week, Easter is celebrated in Italy by eating egg and lamb. So it was a given that the main course for our Easter dinner would be lamb. To make it even more appropriate for Easter, the sauce of this lamb dish is made with an egg yolk. Abbacchio Brodettato is a lamb dish from Lazio, the region around Rome. Abbacchio is suckling lamb, but any young lamb will do to make this dish. This dish has a very original taste, as lamb is not often combined with prosciutto, lemon, and egg yolk. It works very well and the lamb is very tender. It is almost like eating white meat, and therefore it can be no surprise that a full-bodied oaked white wine is a better pairing for this than red wine. Continue reading “Lamb with Lemon-Egg Sauce (Abbacchio Brodettato)”

Lamb a Scottadito

Easter is the celebration of spring, and in Italy this means eating eggs and lamb. Even though it is snowing and Easter is colder than Christmas this year and therefore there is no suckling lamb available yet, I am following that tradition by preparing Abbacchio a Scottadito. This is a piatto tipico from Lazio, the region of Rome. Abbacchio means suckling lamb, and although the dish is still called abbacchio it is more usually prepared with regular lamb. The lamb should be as young as you can find; the lamb I used was 4 months old. Continue reading “Lamb a Scottadito”

I didn’t know Shawarma could be that good

Shawarma (or shoarma as it is called in the Netherlands) is Middle-Eastern way of preparing meat with spices on a vertical spit, which is subsequently served in pita bread with salad and garlic sauce. It is a fast food staple around the world, and not something you’d expect to read about on a foodie blog such as this. Most places that sell shoarma in the Netherlands have their peak hours in the middle of the night on weekends, when people get hungry after having drunk a lot of beer. If you were the owner of a shawarma place and you were serving your fare mostly to customers who are too drunk to care, would you care about the quality of what you are serving?  I’ve had such a shawarma sandwich (broodje shoarma) on a few occasions, but never cared much for the soggy, greasy, overspiced and overgarlicked concoction with a taste that lingered way too long. Not surprisingly however, it turns out that if you make a shawarma sandwich from scratch, it is actually outstandingly delicious! And when I say from scratch, I really mean from scratch, including baking your own pita bread. Continue reading “I didn’t know Shawarma could be that good”

Lamb Stew with Polenta

Even though I’ve been cooking out of Biba Caggiano’s “Modern Italian Cooking” for 15 years now, I still haven’t tried all of her recipes. One of them was “Lamb Stew with Small Onions and Carrots”. I thought it would be perfect for the cold winter weather we’ve been having, and I was right. The stew is very hearty and flavorful and the vegetables have more color and flavor because they are cooked separately and are only added at the end. It paired very well with polenta. I’m not usually a big fan of polenta, but I liked it when my … Continue reading Lamb Stew with Polenta