I admit it .. when January rolls around I’m pretty much done with all of the Christmas candies and am ready to get back on the health band wagon. With a giant carton of peeled garlic cloves left over from my Christmas party cooking (and my farm-girl instinct to never waste food!) I combed the pages of Michael Psilakis‘ cookbook How to Roast a Lamb and decided a healthy Greek feast would be perfect for a dinner party last week. I appreciate the way Psilakis utilizes fresh herbs .. see if you agree. Our main course:
Roasted Leg of Lamb
Psilakis says “Butterflying the lamb gives you options that you don’t have with a bone. A good butcher will be happy to do this for you.”
For the stuffing:
1 1/2 cups large, plump sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/4 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted
1 teaspoon minced rosemary
Leaves only from 3 small sprigs thyme
1 teaspoon dry Greek oregano
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
15 cloves garlic confit (I used roasted garlic cloves-see notes below)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
About 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
For the lamb
3 to 3 1/2 pound boneless leg of lamb, butterflied to flatten, some of the fat trimmed off
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Garlic Puree (or 2-3 cloves garlic confit)
3 large sprigs rosemary
3 tablespoons blended oil (90 percent canola, 10 percent extra-virgin olive)
In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients for the stuffing and puree to a smooth, thick past, about 45 to 60 seconds. Reserve about 2 tablespoons of the stuffing.
Lay the lamb out on a work surface with the fattier side down. Season generously with kosher salt and pepper and spread an even layer of stuffing over it, pressing the stuffing down into the crevices. Drizzle with a little olive oil and roll the lamb up in a spiral, seasoning the fatty side with salt and pepper as you roll. Tie in 3 or 4 places crosswise and 1 or 2 places lengthwise. Ideally, allow the meat to sit on a rack, uncovered, in the refrigerator overnight to dry the surface well and develop all the Greek flavors.
Bring the lamb to room temperature while you preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a small roasting pan, whisk the reserved stuffing with the water, mustard and garlic puree. Throw in the rosemary sprigs. Place a rack in the pan; the rack should not touch the liquid. Again, season the lamb on all sides very generously with kosher salt and pepper. In a large, heavy skillet, warm the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot, sear the lamb well on all sides, using tongs and leaning the meat up against the sides of the pan to sear the thinner sides and cut ends. Transfer the lamb to the rack seam-side up and roast for about 1 hour, basting every 15 minutes with the pan liquid. (When the meat is medium rare – 140 degrees – a skewer inserted at the thickest point should feel warm when pressed against your lower lip. Or use a meat thermometer.)
Rest the meat for about 15 minutes. Slice 1/4″ pieces, drizzle with the pan sauce, and finish with a little extra-virgin olive oil.
What Greek meal would be complete without hummus? I adapted Ina Garten’s recipe by starting with dried chick peas, soaking overnight, then simmering until tender which took about an hour and a half. Canned garbanzo beans can have a high amount of added salt. Hummus is super easy to make .. check this out.
recipe courtesy of Ina Garten
4 garlic cloves
2 cups canned chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
2 tablespoons water or liquid from the chickpeas
8 dashes hot sauce
Turn on the food processor fitted with the steel blade and drop the garlic down the feed tube; process until minced. Add the rest of the ingredients and process until the hummus is coarsely pureed. Taste for seasoning, and serve chilled or at room temperature.
What butter is to the French, garlic is to the Greeks. Here’s how I make garlic puree. Begin by roasting garlic cloves tossed in olive oil with a rosemary sprig until golden. When cool, smash with a fork or puree in a mini food processor. It’s great to have this puree (or the whole garlic cloves) on hand to add flavor to just about anything you are preparing.