Friday, February 17, 2012

This Lamb Was Made For You And Me

The American Lamb Board invited me to participate in the first D.C. American Lamb Pro-Am.  Being that I'm a huge fan of lamb, I jumped at the opportunity. Not only did I have a blast judging the Lamb Jam last year in DC, but I’ve also been hosting a series of dinner parties as one of the Lambassadors for the Tri-Lamb Group.  From leg, to ground lamb, to shank… I love it all.  

The Competition: 13 local food bloggers are competing to make the best lamb recipe.

Vote: Readers will have one week to vote for their favorite recipe/post based on both the quality of the recipe and of the post itself. Voting will close at 4 p.m. on Friday 2/17/12 and the top 4 vote-getting posts will be announced. Those 4 winning bloggers will move on to Round 2.  Please keep voting and tell your friends.

The Cut:  Border Springs Farm Boneless Leg of Lamb

The Dish:  Roasted Leg of Lamb with Caramelized Onions and Fig Sauce

Although I'm a big lamb fan now, I wasn't actually exposed to lamb until I became an adult.  I was always a bit intimidated by it and thought it seemed like a heavy and gamey meat.  I was completely wrong.  American lamb is lean, healthy and tasty.  

For my recipe, I decided to roast my boneless leg of lamb and use one of my other favorite ingredients, figs!  I began brainstorming about my recipe as soon as I found out about the competition, but I really didn't finalize it until I started cooking.  

I got my lamb home on Monday and started marinating it so it would be ready for roasting on Tuesday.  I tried to honor the cut of meat by highlighting the true flavor of the lamb and using the roasting method.  The best part of this meal is that everything is simple to make and tastes delicious. 


2 tablespoons of Lamb Rub (garlic, salt, pepper, rosemary and oregano)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
One 6-pound boneless leg of lamb, trimmed of excess fat and tied

Marinate Overnight:  Rub the olive oil all over the lamb.  Evenly sprinkle the rub; put in a container and refrigerate overnight.  
After putting in some hardcore billable hours at work, I headed home to get my lamb on. 

Roast it:  Preheat the oven to 400°.  Remove lamb from the fridge.  Place into a roasting pan with 3 cups of water in the bottom.  Roast it on the bottom shelf of the oven for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350° and roast the lamb for 1 1/2 hours longer, or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the roast reads 130°.  Keep a good eye on it.  Depending on how many pounds you have, you might not need as much cooking time.  I served mine medium rare-medium.

Caramelized Onions:

3 onions of your choice, sliced into rings
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar

While the lamb is roasting, place onions into a baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Add a little sugar and roast alongside the lamb for the last 50 minutes or until they are soft and caramelized.

Fig Sauce:

1 cup dried figs, roughly chopped
Boiling water
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup beef stock
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
In a small heatproof bowl, cover the dried figs with boiling water and let stand until plump, about 30 minutes. Drain.

After the lamb is finished cooking, spoon off the fat from the roasting pan and set the pan over 2 burners. Add the red wine and balsamic vinegar and bring to a boil over high heat, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes, then strain the liquid into a small saucepan. Add the beef stock and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 15 minutes. Add the reconstituted figs and the butter. Season the dried-fig sauce with salt and pepper and keep warm.

Transfer the roasted lamb to a carving board and let stand for 15 minutes.  
Remove the strings from the lamb roast and cut it into thin slices.
 Arrange the meat on a platter and surround it with the Caramelized Onions. Pour the dried-fig sauce into a bowl and pass at the table.

My Sides:  I tried to keep it on the healthy side with fresh green beans and quinoa.  This meal won't weigh you down.

 Crostini with Brie and Truffle Honey

Twenty 1/3-inch-thick slices of baguette
Truffle oil, for brushing and drizzling
Truffle Honey

Preheat the oven to 400°. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet and brush with truffle oil. Bake for about 4 minutes. Top with brie and toast for another 4 minutes until melted. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with truffle honey.

Green beans and Shallots

Quinoa with Figs, Avocado and Shallots

1 cup quinoa 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper  
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 avocado, diced
1 tablespoon fig balsamic vinegar (you can use plain balsamic as well or sherry vinegar)
1/4 cup dried figs, diced
In a small heatproof bowl, cover the dried figs with boiling water and let stand until plump. Drain.

Put the quinoa in a small saucepan and cover with 2 cups of water. Add a large pinch of salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until the water has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.(You can also make quinoa in a rice maker).

Heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet. Add the shallot and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the quinoa and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Add the figs and the avocado and serve.

Dessert:  Cutest Lamb Cookies from Larry at Toute Sweets
The Toute Sweets lamb cookies were the perfect ending to our meal.  Larry can customize any cookie you'd like and has some super fun Valentine's Day ones as well.
We may have had a little too much fun with those cookies:)
The Pairing:  Sandeman Founders Reserve Porto
Sandeman's Porto pairs so nice with any dessert.  It is such a smooth sipper.
With lots of lamb in hand, I called a few friends to get a taste of the action.  I didn't know this until after we finished eating, but one of the guests was apparently a vegetarian for the past 6 years.  Not only did he clean his first plate, but he went up for seconds.  That's how good it was!!     

So if this meal sounded yummy to you, vote for me so you can taste it for yourself on March 4th when the top 4 vote-getting bloggers will each be paired with a top chef from D.C. to collaborate on a preparation of their dish that will be served to over 100 attendees at the American Lamb Pro-Am event.!
Please help me win.  Tell all of your friends to vote!!  

Photos by the fabulous Emily Clack 

Special thank you to the American Lamb Board, Border Springs, and Toute Sweets!


Emily Clack said...

Lauren did an amazing job preparing this lamb leg - it was seasoned and cooked perfectly and paired with simple yet delicious sides. The beautifully decorated cookies, generously donated by Larry of Toute Sweets, were a great dessert and I thought it was awesome that Lauren rocked a "lamb lover" t-shirt! She totally deserves to win!! Even the photography is kick-ass ;)

mary said...

Super fun. I love that you already got use out of the t-shirt.

Capital Cooking said...

Thanks Em! Love your photos as always!

Capital Cooking said...

Mary, Thanks, we had a blast. I missed you at the pick-up party. Were you there?

Mary said...

Love the t-shirt. Love the recipe more! Encore, please.

Capital Cooking said...

Maybe we can snag some more lamb from Craig and do another party!!

Colleen said...

Can't go wrong with figs! :)

Colleen said...

Can't go wrong with figs! :)

Capital Cooking said...

I'm a huge fan! I love them dried and fresh:)

Capital Spice said...

Lamb AND fig...we definitely want to be invited to your next dinner party! This sounds delicious.

Johnna said...

Love this! Leftovers??

Brittany said...

Such a delicious meal! Seriously obsessed with lamb now - loved it with the figs!

Capital Cooking said...

Thanks Britt!

Capital Cooking said...

Johnna, I'll make you some on the 26th!

Capital Cooking said...

Thanks Capital Spice! ...only if I can get a taste of your chili;)

Mark Stanton said...

Awesome! This meal includes most all of my favorite things!

Capital Cooking said...

Thanks. Come get a taste on March 4th!

Jill Mant~a SaucyCook said...

Wish I had seen this earlier, I totally would have voted for you. I love the flavors of the figs, balsamic and caramelized onions together-I may try it tonight with my rack of lamb! Thanks! And btw, no such thing as too much fun!

Capital Cooking said...

Thanks so much Jill!