Friday, January 21, 2011

Lamb is the Preferred Winter Comfort Food—and I’m Dressing it With a Hint of Spring!

Dear Fellow Foodies,

I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely feeling it! 2011 is in full swing now! Our calendars are filling up with obligations (looming taxes, annual check-ups, maintenance on the house and car…I could go on and on)—and let’s not forget the promises we make our friends: “you know, we really ought to get together sometime this month, instead of just saying we will…” Well, in an effort to leave yada, yada, yada off that promise, I’m pulling out a tried and true recipe that’s just perfect for inviting your neighbors over for a bite—but have them bring their own bottle of wine : )!! This entrée recipe leaves you just enough Merlot for you and your partner to enjoy a nip before the guests arrive.

Lamb Dishes Create the Perfect Winter Sitting Room, While We Wait Patiently For Spring

Grilled Lamb Chops with Ragu of Roasted Shallots, Fresh Peas and Mushrooms is such a welcome dish in the wintertime—not just for its savory and earthy bouquet of flavors, but because it gets you looking forward to the not-so-distant Spring. This dish is also close to my Irish heart because it makes me think of how much my grandfather and namesake, loved his lamb and mint jelly—the later not featured in this particular recipe, but certainly something to ponder drizzling over your leftovers! Anyway…the main reason this family jewel of a recipe is being shared today, is because it’s almost laughably easy to prepare! It suggests an aroma and taste of hours spent in the kitchen. Truth be told, you can have your lamb chops, and eat them too, in just minutes!

Give This Sunday Dinner Classic A Makeover

Now, the traditional Sunday roast—hailing from the United Kingdom—features mashed and roasted potatoes with savory, slow-roasted meat and boiled veggies. I know, I know..boring, right?…it’s now wonder Little Boy Blue fell fast asleep tending his sheep with a menu like that to look forward to; so I’m giving the Sunday Roast—which, in the olden days was a celebratory meal to reward serfs for a hard day’s work in the fields—a much needed update. Instead of serving lamb as a roast, I’m both speeding up (and kicking up!)—the process by using “lamb chops” instead. Most critical note to take away with you, folks? Lamb chops cook at the speed of light!

And now for the ragu part! Ragu sounds fancy—maybe even daunting to some—but it’s really just the Italian way of referring to a sauce made with meat, veggies and wine—and I think it makes an excellent alternative to the browned potatoes that typically grace a Sunday roast. In this ragu, I’m caramelizing onions—believe me, the act of near burning in them in butter will bring everyone coming ‘round it smells s’good—and mixing them with shallots, the greenest and hardiest of peas, Portobello mushrooms and generous splash from that bottle of Merlot I’ve been saving.

Lamb Notes: One Last Prepping Tip

For the most juicy, tender meat, make sure you serve your grilled (or broiled if you decide to go that route) lamb chops with a pink center. It’s important not to overcook lamb, because if you do the meat can take on a gamey flavor. If you know your guests to be the type who are put off by the aroma of cooking lamb, carefully trim the fat from your lamb chops before you cook them, and it’ll smell 110% heavenly, rather than merely graze perfection!

A toast to good health before eating everyone! Let’s all sit down, napkins folded gently in our laps, and enjoy these waning days of winter…

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