Monday, February 2, 2009

Creative Writing With Spiced Lamb

The other night my friend Jessica, a wonderful poet and grand gourmand, came over for a night of eating, drinking, and writing. Whenever she and I hang out we end up writing, especially if there is some delicious red or bourbon handy. We sit and talk while passing a notebook back and forth trading lines of prose, an activity I relish for inspiring me to keep up my endeavors in creative writing. For our gustatory pleasure I prepared a rustic meal of grilled meat and veggies. For a warm vegetable side dish I made a plate of grilled fennel with grapefruit vinaigrette and macerated shallots. I tossed 1/2 inch slices of fennel with olive oil and salt before grilling on a hot grill pan to give them a caramelized texture while maintaining their inherent crunch.

The main course and central protein was a spicy grilled leg of lamb. I know it sounds ridiculous that two people polished off a whole leg of lamb on their own as well it should. I had no idea but the butcher at the gourmet grocer occasionally sells smaller cuts from the leg portion. I marinated the lamb in my patented Angelito sauce, a recipe I cannot give out freely but suffice it to say it includes chipotle peppers, jalapeno, lime, and olive oil; chefs have their secrets. I left the lamb in the spicy, smoky, flavor-packed mixture for about three hours though it could and should have gone overnight to really allow the flavors to permeate. I grilled the lamb over high heat on a grill pan to char the outside until medium rare, which is really the best way to enjoy lamb. Leave the meat wrapped in aluminum foil for 10 or 15 minutes before slicing and savor the spicy crust and tender pink interior. The third dish was a spicy Italian bean ragout which is one of my favorite side dishes.

White Beans with Garlic Chili Oil

1 Can of Beans (cannellini or white kidney beans)
4 Garlic cloves
2 tbls. Olive Oil
1 tsp. Red Chili Flakes
1 Lemon

Drain and rinse the canned beans to remove the metallic flavor and canning liquid. Finely mince the garlic cloves and combine with chili flakes, the zest of one half lemon, and olive oil. Let the ingredients sit for at least a half-hour to infuse the oil. In a hot skillet sauté the beans with a teaspoon of the olive oil mixture and heat through for about 7 minutes. Toss with the remaining oil and cook for another 3 minutes before removing from the heat. Serve immediately with the zest from the second lemon half and a bit of freshly chopped herbs. This is a delicious and hearty vegetable ragout that stands up to aromatic roasted meats. You can of course substitute dried beans though it is considerably more work intensive. As always, I encourage you to enjoy and share delicious food and home cooked meals with yourself and others!

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