Monday, February 16, 2009

Valentine's Day Roast Leg O' Lamb

So, this is essentially a shared post, as Chris deserves full credit for the absolute deliciousness of our Valentine's Day roast lamb dinner, however, since I'm the resident blogger here, I'll be recounting the story myself.

This past Saturday night, Chris and I decided to forego the hordes of couples dining out in lush romantic Vancouver establishments, and instead, enjoy a homemade dinner for two at home. Well, that and the fact that we couldn't get a reservation anywhere on two days' notice (which was when we finally thought about making dinner plans). Oops!

Following an afternoon of cross country skiing at Cypress mountain (or mostly falling down, for me), we drove towards Granville Island in a race against time. With only twelve minutes until the market closed (no joke, it was literally 6:48 pm when we parked the car), by some miracle, we managed to purchase a huge 5.5 lb bone-in leg of lamb from Tenderland Meats, roasting potatoes and salad greens from one of the produce shops, a marvelous selection of olives from Duso's, three glorious cheeses including Roquefort, Manchego, and Gruyere from Dussa’s, and last but certainly not least (managing to sneak in an order after closing time) some Finocchiona salami from Oyama, which has fennel embedded in it. Chris is a huge fan of both fennel and salami, so this was truly a special treat for him.

Once home, we began preparing the lamb. Though a very simple recipe, it really brought out the flavour of the meat.

First preheat the oven to 450 F. Then, mix the following together in a mortar and pestle until it becomes a paste:
2 tbsp fleur de sel (or coarse salt)
1 tbsp cracked pepper
1-2 large sprigs of rosemary
5-6 cloves of garlic
1 tin of whole anchovies (about 50 grams)
50 ml olive oil

Cut small holes in the meat with the tip of a knife and stuff each hole with the rub. Smear the remaining paste all over the leg of lamb.

Place the lamb in a roasting pan on an oven rack in the bottom third of the oven. Immediately after placing the lamb in the oven, turn the temperature down to 325 F. The lamb should cook until a meat thermometer reads 125-135 for medium rare and 135-145 for medium. This should take between 1-1/4 hrs and 1-3/4 hrs for a 5-7 lb leg. (Ours took 1-1/4 hrs.)

For sides, we had roast potatoes which were parboiled and placed around the roast about half way through the lamb's cooking time, and brussel sprouts which were steamed and then pan fried in a bit of olive oil. To complete the feast, we made a light spinach salad with a simple olive oil and balsamic dressing. Oh, and Chris also managed to whip up an amazing gravy with the lamb drippings, a bit of stock, a spoonful of flour, and some cracked black pepper.

I've always thought roasting meat to be an incredibly daunting endeavour, but this meal was one of the best I've had in ages. And if I can do it, so can you!

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