Lamb chops can be tough when they’re grilled, but a new method I’ve started using always produces a tender, juicy chop. I start with lamb T-bones, which are the same cut as beef Porterhouse steaks. By giving them a good sear then turning off the grill, they continue to cook slowly in the residual heat. After 15 minutes, they’ll be succulent.
I like to pair them with barley couscous, which has a lot more taste than regular wheat couscous. (The cooking method is the same.)
Serve harissa sauce, a spicy chili-laden melange, on the side or use Asian chili sauce as a substitute.
An Asian rack of lamb might seem unusual to some, but China’s Hunan province is famous for its lamb dishes. The most well-known is probably a slightly spicy stir fry with loads of green onions. This take is more sophisticated and influenced somewhat by a rack of lamb I enjoyed at The Slanted Door, a Vietnamese-American restaurant in San Francisco. I love sticky rice, but it is sometimes hard to get, so I made this rice dish with arborio – the variety used for risotto – which ends up having a similar texture. The sauce is a typical spicy vinaigrette flavoured with Thai chili and plenty of mint to enhance the lamb. If you prefer less heat, you can remove the seeds from the chili pepper before you chop it.
Lamb on the bone is a favourite in Middle Eastern cuisine, so taking that spicing and slathering it on shoulder chops is a winning recipe. I tested different cooking lengths. The one-hour timing – slightly pink with a more gentle flavour – was my favourite. (I found two hours was a little drier and three was tender and full-flavoured, falling off the bone.)
Old-fashioned legs of lamb have fallen victim to quick-and-easy cooking, but roasting lamb is what we all should do come Easter. While boneless legs may be simpler to carve, bone-in cuts (like any meat on the bone) are juicier and far more delicious. I like to cook this dish with beans; their melting texture and mild taste are a natural accompaniment to rich lamb. Canadian lamb has come a long way and is as good as anything you get from around the world. If you do decide to buy frozen lamb, then defrost it in the refrigerator 24 hours before cooking for the best results. (One caveat: Lamb fat congeals at quite a low temperature so heat your plates.) Serve with crisp vegetables such as sugar snap peas mixed with julienne carrots and chopped mint or thick stalks of spring asparagus.
Ready time: 2 1/2 hours, not including bean soaking
1 tbsp anchovies, chopped
2 tbsp garlic, chopped
2 tsp grated lemon rind
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp hot smoked Spanish paprika
2 tbsp olive oil
4 lb (2 kg) bone-in leg of lamb
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 cup onions, chopped
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
2 cups dried lima beans, soaked in cold water overnight and drained
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 heads garlic sliced in half
4 cups baby spinach (optional)
Combine anchovies, garlic, lemon rind, lemon juice, paprika and oil. Rub over lamb and leave to it marinate while beans are cooking.
To make the beans, heat 2 tbsp oil, reserving remainder, in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in thyme, rosemary and soaked beans. Pour in enough water to just cover the beans. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and cook covered for 30 minutes. Uncover, then turn heat to medium-low and cook another 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally or until beans are just soft, adding more water if needed. Season well with salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 450 F.
Place lamb in a roasting pan and roast for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F. Remove lamb from pan. Add beans to pan and give them a stir. Place garlic heads in the pan and drizzle everything with remaining 2 tbsp olive oil. Place lamb on top of beans and bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until lamb juices are just pink. You may need to add a little water as the lamb is cooking so that the beans don’t dry out.
Remove lamb from the pan and let it rest on a carving board. Stir spinach into beans and return to oven for 5 to 10 more minutes until the spinach is wilted.
David Tanis, a former chef at Chez Panisse, creates beautiful cookbooks. He concentrates on simple recipes with an abundance of flavour. The recipes in his latest book, One Good Dish, are easy to make and his instructions are impeccable. For this dish, I used lamb loins, which worked perfectly.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Ready time: 25 minutes
Servings: 3 or 4
500 grams (1 pounds) boneless lean lamb cut into strips 1/4inch (5-mm) wide and 11/2 inches (4-cm) long
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
12 small dried red chili peppers (add more or less depending on your heat tolerance)
2-inch (5 cm) piece of ginger, peeled and cut into fine julienne
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
6 scallions, thinly sliced
Place lamb in a small bowl, season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with the cornstarch. Mix with your fingers to combine.
Heat vegetable oil in a wok or wide, cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add the cumin seeds and dried peppers. When they begin to sizzle, add the lamb, ginger and garlic, toss well to coat. Stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes, until the lamb is slightly browned, but still a little pink. Add the sesame oil, cilantro and scallions, and transfer to a serving dish.
Use a butterflied leg of lamb. Because it is uneven in size, once grilled it offers rare and more well-done portions in the same piece of meat, making it perfect to suit most diners’ tastes. Serve with grilled naan brushed with garlic butter and snap peas.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Ready in: 1 hour
Serves: 4 to 6
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 cup packed mint leaves
1/2 cup packed parsley leaves
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon finely chopped jalapeno pepper
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 anchovy fillets, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped capers
Salt to taste
1/3 cup olive oil
1 three-pound (1.5 kilogram) boneless butterflied lamb leg
Combine green onions, mint, parsley, vinegar, jalapeno, garlic and sugar in a food processor. Stir in anchovies and capers and season with salt. Pulse until chunky. Stir in oil. Reserve.
Preheat grill to high. Brush lamb with 1/4 cup of the mint salsa verde. Sear lamb on each side for about three minutes per side. Turn off middle burner and grill 10 minutes per side or until still pink in the centre. Timing will vary depending on the thickness of the lamb.
Allow lamb to rest for 10 minutes, then carve into thin slices and serve with the remaining salsa verde.
SUGGESTED WINE PAIRINGS
For the lamb, most people will favour red, of course, and this is a dish that loves southern French reds from either the Rhone Valley or Languedoc-Roussillon. The herbal overtones in the wine harmonize with the salsa verde. But a rosé from France or Spain would work nicely, too. The berry flavours complement the gamey meat and the lively acidity and whiff of herbs stand up to the green salsa. - Beppi Crosariol
Serve with an arugula salad dressed with olive oil and lemon. If you need a sauce for the lamb, deglaze the pan with about 1 cup stock then reduce and finish with 2 tbsp butter and 1/2 tsp grated orange zest.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Ready in: 1 hour, 10 minutes
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 racks of lamb, frenched
2 tablespoons tapenade
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 400F. Heat oil in a skillet over high heat. If fat on the lamb is thick, make slits through it at every inch. Add lamb to skillet in batches and sear until brown, about 2 minutes per side. Cool slightly.
Combine topping ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Pat over fat side of racks.
Roast lamb in the oven for 25 to 40 minutes, depending on thickness, until still pink in the centre. Let rest 10 minutes. Carve into chops.
Canada’s eclectic culinary scene is rooted in its cultural diversity, yet every year on St. Patrick’s Day everyone suddenly becomes Irish. Pubs overflow with patriots donning green, knocking back Irish stouts and belting out Celtic classics. But beyond the shamrock fever, March 17 also prompts an annual appreciation of Ireland’s hearty comfort food. This Irish stew deviates a little from the traditional recipe, with its inclusion of root vegetables and the suggested option of using beef in place of the classic lamb, but it has many of the same elements, is easy to make, reheats well and can be ready in 90 minutes.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Ready in: 1 hour, 30 minutes
500 grams (1 pound) Yukon Gold or other baking potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup carrots, diced in 1-inch pieces
1 cup parsnips, diced in 1-inch pieces
1 cup Jerusalem artichokes, diced in 1-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
500 grams (1 pound) ground lamb or beef
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
2 cups onions, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
Add potatoes to a pot of cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil for 3 to 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Remove potatoes with a slotted spoon, drain and reserve.
Add carrots, parsnips and Jerusalem artichokes and boil for 6 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and reserve, seasoning both potatoes and vegetables with salt and pepper.
Heat oil in a skillet over high heat, then add lamb or beef. Season the meat with salt and pepper and sauté until it loses its pinkness (about 3 minutes). Add garlic and sauté 1 minute longer. Remove meat and garlic from skillet and add more oil if needed. Add onions and sauté for 3 minutes or until edges are tinged with brown.
Add boiled carrots, parsnips and Jerusalem artichokes and toss together. Stir in thyme, chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and balsamic vinegar. Return the meat to the pan and cook over medium heat until sauce is reduced and meat is cooked through (about 10 minutes). Season if needed.
Butter a casserole dish and add half of the potatoes. Spoon in meat mixture and top with remaining potatoes. Sprinkle cheese and parsley on top.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until top is crusty and brown.