Lamb Merlot; semolina with bay; asparagus with aioli – 8 May 2017

We had this odd non-cut of a lamb leg in the freezer, left over from some previous lamb dinner (with R&E) when the requested cut was made in the wrong place. Instead of getting a shortened bone-in leg of lamb and a small shank. we ended up with a too-shortened leg, and a shanky-leggy part – half the length each. We cooked the leg part then, and froze the shanky-leggy part, which I defrosted by moving to the fridge a couple days ago. We decided why not make a lamb merlot with it, and it has worked out fine, though we made some mistakes. The biggest was to translate the minutes-per-pound directly to this smaller piece of lamb. Wrong. The 6 lb leg was supposed to cook 12-15 minutes per pound, but this 2 1/2 – 3 lb portion was just as thick at its widest, so needed to cook more than 12-15 minutes per pound – the heat needed something like as much time to seep into that width of meat as it would have with the original cut.

So the interior was undercooked when dinnertime came. D cut the exterior of the lamb off for dinner and we put it back into the oven to cook longer.

We decided to have the cold asparagus as our first course instead of putting it on the plate with the meat and semolina, and that worked just great. We could use a cold plate for the veggie (boiled 4 minutes, then placed in an ice/water bath and finally dried and moved to the fridge till serving time), and I stuck the dinner plates into the (cooling) oven for the lamb and semolina. mixed yet more olive oil into the last of the aioli, and served that over the chilled asparagus.

Lamb merlot is from California Fresh, a 1980s cookbook from the Junior League of Oakland and the East Bay – our first really great Californian cookbook. Still excellent. The lamb is marinated in sesame oil, celery leaves, and a bunch of other stuff, overnight, and turned in the morning. The marinade is retained when the lamb is drained and put into the oven, and merlot (or other good red wine) is added to the marinade and boiled a bit, then used as a most excellent sauce. I defrosted the (long) ends from the Acme Sweet Rustic Baguette for lunch, and cut off one piece of each worthy of being a good-sized sandwich, leaving the cone ends for dinner, to sop up the delicious aioli and marinade.

The semolina is a Patricia Wells recipe. I made a 3/4 recipe, and I think it probably should have been 1/2 but it’s great as leftovers. boil 1 qt whole milk with 1 bay leat and 2 tsp salt, stir in 1 cup semolina in a steady stream, and cook 3-5 minutes, then stir in 1/2 cup grated parmaggiano and a bit of freshly grated nutmeg. Delicious! I especially like this will grilled chicken thighs, and was just craving it when the lamb idea came up. It went very well with this lamb.

We had the opened CalStar Za Za Zin (Old vine zinfandel, Lodi 2015)  that E gave us after her tasting, and we both agreed that we should have had the zin with the pizza and the pinot with this meal. Great wines, not-quite-matched to their meals. Ah, well…


Here’s the rest of the baguette end, being a sandwich. I cut up two small carrots bought at Saturday’s farmer’s market and split both for the two of us (in case one better than the other). They are not at their peak, but I still enjoyed them.

I used “Wagon Wheel” cheese from Cowgirl Creamery for the sandwich, with romaine and some mayonnaise. The olives are more of the Dean & Deluca recipe made with not-picholines this time b/c Cheese Board couldn’t find any they liked (and I did not plan on going to the Bowl on the day I was buying these). Luces? Anyway, both olives and cheese are from CB.


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