Thursday, April 16, 2009

What a dream

About two years ago I had a dream it involved a lamb, some yogurt and spices. I had a nocturnal vision of a slow, roasted leg. It is not that unusual for me to dream recipes, and in my dreams most recipes have been tested and proven a success or work in progress. This particular desire was the former, and I will admit to casually looking for a leg of lamb bone-in since that night. Here in New York they are not as common as one would have thought – sure bone-out was constantly available but that is not how I envisioned this dish. So, the formula sat on the back burner waiting. Well, this weekend my dream was fulfilled.

It was in Seattle I found that seemingly rare bone-in leg – I think it had more to do with Easter than location. Regardless, I was able to rub down that leg so the applied flavors would infuse and the yogurt would work its tenderizing magic. The only compromise I had to make was on the cooking medium. In my original revelation that leg sat on the in-direct side of a grill bathing in smoke as it slowly cooked. This past spring weekend did not allow a complete replication – it was pouring rain most of the days. So, an easy revision and into a low temperature oven it went.

After half a day in the oven that leg revealed itself to be caramelized to perfection; ready to fall off the bone upon command. Definitely a keeper of an idea as was confirmed during that REM sleep period, and finally eaten. Next time, it is going to get that soaking from the grill.

Leg of Lamb – yields 4 to 6 servings
5-pound bone-in leg of lamb
2 lemons – zested and juiced
1 head of garlic – peeled and finely chopped
2-teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-tablespoon smoked paprika
2-teaspoon turmeric
1-teaspoon fennel seed
1/2-cup plain non-fat yogurt
1/4-cup cider vinegar

Trim the lamb of excess fat leaving some small patches of fat on the leg.

In a small work bowl mix together the lemon zest, juice, garlic, black pepper, paprika, fennel seed and yogurt to thoroughly combine.

Lay the leg on a sheet of plastic wrap and slather the yogurt concoction all over the leg. Wrap the leg of lamb in the plastic wrap tightly. Refrigerate for 24 hours.

Pre-heat the oven to 325-degrees.

Take the lamb from the refrigerator and allow it to sit at room temperature for a half hour.

Place the lamb on a rack that is sitting in a roasting pan. Season the lamb with salt. Pour a cup of water in the bottom of the roasting pan (though not over the lamb). Cook the oven for 4 to 5 hours. Remove from the oven, and immediately pour over the cider vinegar, and allow the lamb to sit 15 to 20 minutes before carving.

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