Many of us are classic Lamb paired with Pinot Lovers but sometimes you just need to GO BIG and that’s what we suggest with this month’s pairing!
Spring Lamb is making its way to markets right now. I was recently visiting a Food Co-
Op in Southwest Montana and had the great pleasure of sampling a truly outstanding Leg of Lamb as well as some incredible sausages produced by Willow Spring Ranch in Belgrade MT. The trick to getting great tasting lamb according to owners Katy and Richard Harjes is in how their animals are treated, what they eat, and when they are brought to market. It truly was evident in what I tasted, rarely have I had lamb that was so clean tasting. Katy and Rich ship their products all over the country and have a website that allows you to order your favorite cuts. You can reach them, at http://montanaorganiclamb.com .
This month let’s try pairing a grass fed spring Boneless Leg of Lamb with Coyote Canyon’s H/H Buck Syrah which was released in February 2014. This is a deep colored, full bodied, wine with notes of dark licorice as well as currants and blackberries-perfect for this Leg of Lamb recipe. The trick to getting a bigger, not over powering flavor is to start the Lamb on the grill and finish it in a slow oven with some added moisture. The leg is made up of several muscles that tend to cook and eat differently. Cooking the muscles in a low temp oven after a hard char on the grill will give it the grilled flavor and keep the muscles moist and tender.
Leg of Lamb with Roasted Lamb and Pan Drippings with Grilled Fennel
6lb Boned Rolled and Tied or netted Leg of Lamb
1T Fresh or 2t Dried Thyme
1T Fresh or 2t Dried Oregano
1T Fresh or 1t dried Rosemary
1T dried Basil
1T Ground Red Pepper
1 Bay Leaf
1T Course Sea Salt
1T Course Ground Black Pepper
3T Pure Olive Oil
Remove all packaging from the Lamb and pat dry the lamb with paper towels. Mix the herbs, salt and pepper in a bowl; add olive oil to make a paste. Coat the lamb with the herb paste and rest covered with wrap in refrigerator 1-2 hours.
Prepare the grill and start charcoal. I prefer a charcoal briquette with the addition of soaked wood chips such as cherry or apple to add some mild smoke flavor. I don’t recommend a strong charcoal from Mesquite or Hickory for this recipe. If using a gas grill make sure to preheat on high at least 15 minutes before adding the lamb.
Roasting Pan (9”x13”) ingredients
While the grill/briquettes are starting prepare the following
1 Onion-peeled and ½” diced
2 Carrots (medium size) Peeled, sliced ½” thick
2 Ribs Celery-Sliced ½” thick pieces
4 cloves garlic-Peeled and sliced thin
1-12oz can diced tomato’s
1C Vegetable or Chicken Stock
1C Dry Red Wine
3T Pure Olive Oil
2 Fennel bulbs with tip trimmed, Cut in half from top to bottom.
1t Course Sea Salt
1t Course Black Pepper
3T Olive oil
Season Fennel with Salt and Pepper and toss the 4 halves in olive oil.
3T Fresh chopped Parsley or Chives
Sauté onions 3 minutes to transparency add garlic, sauté 1 minute, add carrots and celery and sauté 3 more minutes at low-medium heat. Add tomatoes, stock, and wine. Turn heat to low. We will add this to the roasting pan when the lamb comes off the grill. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
Remove the lamb from the refrigerator 20 minutes prior to grilling. Sear Lamb over high heat part of grill, add soaked wood chips to the fire for smoke. You want to brown the entire leg-a good hard char for no more than 15 minutes. You can now grill the fennel bulbs over the coals used for searing the lamb. Grill the fennel for 5-7 minutes on each side. Remove from heat, let cool, and then slice thin.
After you have seared the leg, remove from the fire. Place the Roasting Pan ingredients into a 9”x13” roasting pan. Mound the vegetables up in the middle and put the lamb on top. Place the roasting pan in the oven on the middle rack. Cook lamb until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees for medium rare. Put the meat on a cutting board with a sheet tray underneath, cover with foil and let rest 10-15 minutes. While the meat is resting, strain the juice, add fennel slices and adjust seasoning. Keep the juice and fennel slices warm.
Remove the string or netting surrounding the Lamb and slice thin (1/4”-1/2” thick) this may be a bit messy, the muscles tend to fall apart after the string is taken off. Try to cut the muscles across the grain if you can.
Place the sliced meat on a platter with fennel slices atop, garnish with fresh chopped parsley and/or chives. Serve the juice in a separate container for your guest to pour over the lamb. This is a great dish with roasted or mashed potatoes, pasta, or even grits. Enjoy the deep flavors of the H/H Estates Buck Syrah with the earth notes of the Lamb-I think you will know what I meant by GOING BIG!!!!!