roasted spiced leg of lamb

Roasted spiced leg of lamb

Every year we'd visit my maternal grandmother's house to celebrate Christmas, being a large family you could bet the celebrations would be fun and the dinner table filled. My grandmother prepared most of the main dishes and would then ask each of her four children to bring one item. We'd have an assortment of traditional Goan food and a few non-traditional dishes which if successful would eventually start to show up every year. We'd have either beef, chicken, lamb, and/or pork dishes laced with fragrant spices and coconut milk, fresh salads, braised vegetables with bread and rice. One of my grandmother's favorite non-traditional dishes that she made every year, was her delicious Chinese sweet and sour shrimp, I am not sure why she included it on her menu, but it was fantastic and none of us ever thought to question. My grandmother passed away several years ago and the family is spread far and wide but they still try to come together every year to celebrate the holidays as one.

Garlic

Since I now cook for two, our holiday meals are generally less grand with the exception of when I'm hosting a Christmas dinner for my friends. I tend to make one or two dishes that remind me of Christmas at my grandmother's house to keep my memories alive. I try and alternate the dishes each year and this time I'm including lamb on our menu. 

Spice mix for lamb roast

This roast is aromatic and you will inhale the scent of the mint, garlic and the spices as the seasoned meat hits the searing oil in the pan. The spice mix in this recipe has a few simple ingredients that impart flavor to the meat. I use coriander seeds here which have a very different and unique taste than fresh cilantro leaves (although they come from one and the same plant), coriander has a more nutty, woody and earthy smell. For the garnish I recommend using cilantro but it can be easily replaced by fresh parsley leaves. 

Roast lamb

Lamb is one of my favorite meats to cook, it is extremely popular in Indian cuisine and a highly prized treat at that. I treat the meat with extreme care when preparing it. I like to trim off most of the fat and gristle from lamb to get rid of the gamey taste that some people dislike. This roasted leg is delicious and one of my favorite ways to prepare lamb during the holidays, and it's super easy which always makes life easy because the holidays as we know can be a stressful time. I normally serve this dish for the main course with rice or bread and a few sides. 

Lamb and fork

roasted spiced leg of lamb

yields: 4 servings

ingredients

2.5lbs boneless leg of lamb
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon dried mint (fresh mint can also be substituted)
1 teaspoon cinnamon, freshly ground
1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
6 cloves
2 garlic cloves, grated
kitchen twine
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon finely chopped cilantro/parsley to garnish

1. Wipe the lamb dry with a clean paper towel. Trim and discard any excess fat and gristle. Prick the lamb all over with a fork.
2. Grind the spices from the salt to the cloves in  a coffee mill or spice grinder until smooth. Toss the garlic into the spice mix and rub the meat all over with this spice mix. Roll the lamb to form a log and tie it tightly with the kitchen twine at approximately 3/4" intervals. Wrap the meat with cling film and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours (For a more flavorful roast, I keep the meat wrapped in the refrigerator overnight). 
3. Preheat the oven to 400F and place a rack in the middle. Put the olive oil in a 12 inch cast iron skillet (or an oven-safe pan) and place on a medium high flame until the oil begins to get very hot. Remove and discard the cling film, place the meat on the pan and sear on each side for 8 minutes. Transfer the skillet with the meat into the oven and allow it too cook until the internal temperature reaches 120F (for medium rare) or 130F (for medium). 
4. Remove the skillet from the oven and cover the skillet with a tent made out of aluminum foil and let the lamb rest for 10 minutes before slicing. This will help to let keep the lamb moist. I generally prefer to cut the lamb in 1/4" thick slices before serving.

oven-roasted carrots with fennel

roasted carrots

Over the weekend, we had the pleasure of attending the wonderful wedding of our friends, Adam and Daniel. It was romantic, fun, intimate, and inspiring. There were joyful tears and laughter that filled the celebrations in the room. The wedding was amazing and we were happy to be a part of their special moment. There is something  special about spring weddings, they remind me of hope and strength. I always think of the brightly colored flowers that begin to sprout above the sometimes snow-covered soil. They seem resilient and ready to flourish displaying signs of what wonderful things are to come as the temperatures get warmer. Each spring I hope that I will have stunning daffodils in the garden but they seem to avoid me. My gardening skills need a bit of fine tuning. By the way what was up with the snow we had on the East Coast earlier this week, it's spring! There is absolutely no need for anymore snow now.

fennel

Spring gets me super excited since it heralds the onset of all the fresh produce of the land. I'm also getting closer and closer in opening up our grill on the patio and long for the day when I can char the heck out of things! One of my favorite recipes this spring, is something I've tried and tested on some of my friends. Since it was still a bit chilly to get the grill out, I roasted these carrots in the oven with a slight sprinkling of fennel seeds, dried rosemary, sea-salt, and a little splash of olive oil. The roasted fennel seeds go really well with the rest of the ingredients in this simple dish. In Indian cooking, fennel seeds are often dry roasted in pans and then ground to make a variety of spice rubs and mixes but it is also common to find them served after a meal as a digestive and mouth freshener. You might sometimes find this in the form of tiny sugar-coated fennel seeds in an assortment of different colors at Indian restaurants.
If you use rainbow carrots, be careful with the dark purple variety, they tend to caramelize faster then the lighter colored kind and can burn (This always reminds me of a physics class I took, Ferry's perfect black body and the rules around it, darker matter absorbs more energy like heat). If they cook earlier than the rest, I would suggest taking them out of the pan and then cooking the rest of the carrots a little longer. You can mix them together before serving.

carrot salt1

oven-roasted carrots with fennel

servings: 4

ingredients 

2 bunches carrots
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon coarse sea-salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400F.
2. Wash and peel the carrots. Pat the carrots dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper. 
3. With a sharp knife, slit the carrots in half across their length. Place the carrots in a roasting or baking pan. Sprinkle and drizzle the rest of the ingredients over the carrots. 
4. Place the pan with the carrots in the oven and roast the carrots until tender for about 25 minutes. You can check the tenderness of the carrots with a fork. Serve warm.