It seems like its been years since I cooked a lamb curry, so long in fact that I’m afraid I’ve long lost my go-to recipe, and had to do a quick on-line search for this one when my wife and I both had a craving for the dish over the weekend. Many that I came across were fairly elaborate dishes requiring building curry flavors through a combination of up to a dozen spices, not exactly what I had in mind as I raced around on Saturday afternoon pulling together ingredients. The base of this recipe is by Mark Bittman and is a simple curry made with not much more than a handful of ingredients, and store bought curry powder.
In my experience lamb is a polarizing meat, people either love it or hate it. Some don’t like it because they find it too gamey and strongly flavored, others find the prospect of cooking lamb stressful knowing that its taste and texture deteriorate quickly when overdone. Even those who love the flavor of the meat, shy away from cooking it at home and enjoy it only as a restaurant meal due to its relatively higher cost, and a fear that they might screw up an expensive piece of meat when cooking it at home.
I’ve ALWAYS loved the taste of lamb, but totally relate to the anxiety many feel about cooking the meat at home. Long cooked dishes like stews and tagines are a piece of cake, but quicker cooking methods where the goal is meat served up a perfect medium-rare always made me sweat a little. Happily, my years of experience with these cuts have helped me to overcome my anxieties, and I now cook lamb legs, racks, chops, and kebabs without a second thought.
I found this recipe in the latest Bon Appétit and knew immediately that we had to make it. As the weather turns cooler here in the Northeast, braises like this tagine come screaming back into fashion. With the exception of freshly baked bread, there is nothing to compete with a delicious braise in the way it fills a home with hearty aromas and warmth. As it had been some time since we've had lamb around here, this dish was a perfect way to hop back into cool weather cuisine.
Are your taste buds tired of the same old same old?
Looking to spice up your dinner menu a bit this week?
Good, because this dish is gonna transport you to a brave new culinary world, and will totally rock those bored buds of yours.
I stumbled across this recipe in Bon Appetit some time ago and it immediately caught my eye. It also made me think of my friend Joumana and her awesome blog, Taste of Beirut, because I couldn't help but think that this was the kind of food she grew up on…..lucky girl. Sadly, I never got around to making the dish and sort of forgot about it until Joumana recently posted her own recipe for muhammara, a Syrian red pepper sauce. Hers looked so good that I knew I had to go back and find this recipe and finally give it a try…I am SO GLAD I did.
Our weather has been so cold and raw here lately, with day after day of what our local meteorologists call a “wintry mix” falling from the sky, that only the heartiest of meals will do. This delicious shepard’s pie made with ground lamb, and topped with a mix of mashed potatoes, caramelized onions, and cheddar cheese, is a textbook example of the kind of comfort food that is a perfect foil for this kind of weather. In case you’ve been wondering, your childhood lunch-line memories of a dish like this made with ground beef is properly called a “cottage pie”, only a true shepard’s pie is made with lamb…….there, now you know.
I have yet to dine at either A Voce or Locanda Verde, Andrew Carmellini’s wildly popular Manhattan restaurants, but they will certainly be on my hit-list the next time I’m in the Big Apple. I have become a big fan of Andrew’s cooking since buying his terrific cookbook, Urban Italian: Simple Recipes and True Stories from a Life in Food (which he wrote with his wife, Gwen Hyman), last summer.
The first dish I cooked from the book has become my favorite way to eat swordfish, and I’m sure I’ll be blogging that dish before long…think orange, olives, and harrisa…your mouth is already watering, yes?
I feel a bit silly writing about another braised dish given the onset of spring, but this dish is so good, I couldn’t let it wait till autumn. I have also been re-thinking braises, and how they fit into my annual cooking calendar as of late. I don’t know about you, but I have always viewed braises as cool weather dishes, and generally never cooked them between May and October. Of course, there has never been a written rule as to when it’s OK to serve a stew or braise, but like wearing white shoes or pants before Memorial Day, it just wasn’t done without having to endure the derision of the food elite.
I have found that these days, many chefs (myself included) are tossing out certain cooking rules and instituting some new ones. I recently read where Suzanne Goin, the fabulously talented chef / owner of “Lucques” in Los Angeles decided to “break the rules” and keep her braised short rib dish on her menu year round because it was in such high demand from her customers. So I’m thinkin’ if it’s OK for famous chefs in posh eateries to braise in warm weather, then it’s OK for us too.
Here is another dish from one of my favorite cookbooks, Cooking with Shelburne Farms: Food and Stories from Vermont (Shelburne Farms Books) , written by my friend Melissa Pasanen, and the Inn’s ex-chef, Rick Gencarelli. I can’t say enough good things about this dish, I could eat it every night. It’s funny, because by appearance it is clearly a bolognese, and texturally it is exactly what you’d expect from this classic Italian dish, but give it a quick taste and you’ll find that this is a ragu unlike any you have ever had before.
My wife is of Lebanese descent, and over the past few years I have enjoyed eating, and learning about her family’s delicious, middle eastern cuisine. I cook a fairly traditional Thanksgiving dinner, but wanted to give a little culinary nod to her folks who will be joining us for our feast again this year.
Thanks to Food52, and their recent “Best Thanksgiving Stuffing” competition, I decided to rework my turkey day stuffing to reflect some flavors of their culture. The resulting dish will be a welcome addition to a more “international” day of Thanksgiving. Lamb sausage, pistachios, mint, feta cheese, and zatar, combine with local flavors such as apples, cranberries, and leeks to make a deliciously new take on an old standard.