Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Shredded lamb on Israeli couscous pilaf


Scott and I had a few of his homies over for dinner and vid night the other night. I had already thawed out a lamb shoulder roast to clear out some room in the freezer, so it was good that we were having some company. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford was a pretty decent flick - Casey Affleck can act circles around his brother. And we finally cleaned our house, as we are wont to do when company's expected.

The closest thing to maternal feelings I ever have is when I cook for people. Pete is a confirmed bachelor and doesn't get a good home-cooked meal unless he literally visits home. Chris is engaged to a vegetarian who has spent a fair amount of time around livestock of varying degrees of adorableness (and although she is mostly tolerant of his meat eating, she draws the line at lamb). So I particularly love cooking meat for these two guys. I feel like I'm giving them something special when they come over, something that can only be dished up by a nice lady in an apron.


I just found out (confirmed a suspicion, really) that lamb shoulder lends itself perfectly to a low and slow type of cooking. Three or four hours at 275oF did the trick nicely. Since I was a bit hobbled up, I showed Scott how to make my secret rub: cumin and coriander seed, the seeds from one black cardamom pod, a couple cloves, a stick of cinnamon, some peppercorns and a pinch of chili flake. Toast until fragrant and whizz in the dedicated grinder. Fat pinch of salt. Slice gashes into the meat and massage that shit in like you're warming up a girl you want to get into bed. Brown with a rough-chop mirepoix on the stove and roast (covered) until falling apart (the bones should be sticking out of the meat a good coupla inches). Scott also did the heavy lifting required to lug that fucker out the oven every hour for a flip.

I didn't trim away any of the excess fat before browning it in the Dutch oven, which in retrospect, probably would've been a good idea. There was so much fat floating on the remaining jus that I couldn't really use it for sauce (I don't have a separator, boo...). I ended up melting a bit of marmalade with honey and lots of pepper (black and pink) to make a drizzly glaze for the meat. It was pretty good for last-minute.

A simple pilaf of Israeli couscous with garbanzos, golden raisins and chopped prunes, minced parsley and cilantro and toasted pinenuts was great side. Adding glazed baby carrots with toasted cumin seed resulted in such statements as, "Wow, I never just eat carrots. These are really great!"And I glow, oh how I glow. A soft flat bread to scoop up the last of the pilaf and dip up the lamb fat and marmalade.


26 comments:

Ben said...

I love the presentation and it looks so easy to make. I need more lamb recipes and this is one that is going to my bookmarks.

Syd said...

I hope your husband knows that he hit the culinary jackpot when he snagged you.

amanda. said...

That looks amazing! Now if only I could find Israeli couscous in Alabama...

Peter M said...

Lamb shoulder is tastier than the leg but yeah, trim some fat.

As for your lamb rubbing technique, I can match you with an apple pie trick!

peter said...

If you have enough time, freeze the liquid and just lift the fat right off.

Try adding espresso and garlic to your rub, and grill or roast it for a bit before the long slow braise...

Heather said...

Ben - Thanks! I was gonna send this to you for your springtime recipe thang, but I want to do something more original for that. :)

Syd - He does. I rub his fucking nose in it all the time.

Amanda - I know it sounds racist, but look in the Jewish section of the grocery store, like where they sell matzo and gefilte fish. That's where I found it! :P

Peter the Greek - I don't know about your apple pie trick. I'm afraid! Meat and pie are very different beasts.

Peter Back East - I know, I know, I just wanted to have jus right then! I even have a special sifty-type spatula I use for lifting off the fat puck from my stocks. Sometimes I save the fat (esp. chicken) to throw into mashed potatoes. :P

glamah16 said...

Heather can I come to your house for vacation and you cook for me.Pretty please?

Emiline said...

Massage that shit in like you're warming up a girl you want to get into bed.
I love that!

I bet those boys will be back for some more of your home cookin.

This looks very good. I've never had Israeli couscous, but I want to try it.
Oh also, I agree about Casey Affleck. I watched him in this movie called Lonesome Jim, and he was really good in it.

Peter G said...

Wow! Thats all I can say...you leave me speechless with your creations! The marinade, the cooking technique and the cous cous all worl so well together. A great symphony of flavours heather.

Pixie said...

How fortunate of your husband's friends! That lamb looks wonderful, I just love lamb. YUM!

Chuck said...

"Massage that shit in like you're warming up a girl you want to get into bed."

LOL! I will always have that thought in my head when I see lamb shoulder now. The shredded lamb looks great! I love low and slow roasting.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

The presentation is gorgeous! I'm not big on lamb, but I might try this with a pork shoulder.

Judy @ No Fear Entertaining said...

I could never show your blog to my DH. I think he would instantly fall in love with you! Another great dish!

Bellini Valli said...

These guys are lucky to have you slaving in the kitchen for them...even when you're gimped Heather.The slow roasted lamb probably fell off of the bone:D

cookworm said...

This recipe is exactly the kind of lamb dish I love...can't wait to try it! Long slow cooking is the best.

Nicolette (Nikki) Miller-Ka said...

"...something that can only be dished up by a nice lady in an apron."

A nice lady in an apron. I was telling my mom about your blog and that's exactly what I told her. :)

I love your lamb. I really doing dig israeli couscous but yours looks pretty good.

That extra fat...straight up gravy! That's what I would have made. Dip that flat bread in there... Yeah, boy!

michelle @ thursday night smackdown. said...

i'm totally making this. yum.

ben affleck is a waste of a good head of hair.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

That looks great Heather! I do so enjoy lamb and a nice hearty Israeli couscous. I get the same way youdo about cooking for people who really appreciate a nice home cooked meal! :) Nice job!

amy said...

i majorly heart israeli couscous. i actually feel like i'm eating something, which is not a feeling i get often from regular couscous. i also heart lamb - you could do this w/ a pork shoulder/butt as well and i bet it would be fabu.

and you're right about the affleck's - i'm still not sure why ben was ever popular. he acted better in the horrid j-lo video when he was "feelin' up her booootie" and pretended to be attracted to her.

Ivy said...

That massage part was the best and although I am not a fan of lamb, I occasionally eat some and this is something I would definitely try.

Heather said...

....and I'm back!

Court - you can come over any time you want, hunny!

Em - isn't it funny how that is like the basic move of every guy?

Petah - "a symphony of flavors" - that's awfully sweet.

Pix - lamb has really been getting around now that it's spring, hasn't it?

Chuck - I believe the Beastie Boys put it best when they said "Let it flow, let yourself go. Low and slow that is the tempo." By "tempo" they meant temperature, I just know it.

Jen - this would be great with pork shoulder.

Judy - aw, shucks. But I'm sure your DH prefers sweet, purty girls like you over sailor mouths like me. :)

Valli - it is a labor of love! Cooking never really feels like work to me.

Cookworm - Slow cookin' is great for weekends!

Nikki - Haha! I would normally agree with you about the fat, but lamb fat has too much strong flavor for me to just eat alone. :P

Michelle - Ben Affleck IS a waste of perfectly good hair. But he was funny in his bromance for Jimmy Kimmel.

Jenn - cooking for wayward boys is the best, isn't it? It's like practicing for grandmotherhood.

Amy - you nailed it. Regular couscous is like eating little puffs of air.

Ivy - this is such an easy way to cook it when you do make lamb. I'm surprised to hear a Greek say she doesn't eat much lamb! :)

JoAnn said...

I love the rub recipe (and how to apply it as well!) I'm going to give it a shot on the next lamb dish!

Cynthia said...

I can imagine how good the lamb was and yes, the shoulder is the best cut for long-slow-fall-off-the-bone cooking.

kittie said...

Love lamb, though have never cooked shoulder before. This recipe is right up my street though!

Hope you're feeling better - how lucky is your husband that you cook even when laid up!!

Núria said...

Your lamb looks gourgeous, I could eat all that shown in the picture. And yes, they want low heat and patience.
Every 6th of January my brother cooks cochinillo (it's the 3 kings day celebration here) and it's the only time a year he spends so much time in the kitchen... nearly 6 hours and also flipping and throwing the juice on top... hard job, but there is nothing more tender than that!!! I've never cooked it though.

Susan said...

I made the lamb tonight for Christmas eve dinner - it was delish! 2 smallish lamb shoulders (bone in) fit in my largest pot - we had it with couscous (w butternut squash, lemons, pine nuts, golden raisins), naan, raita, and a salad with warm goat cheese and oranges :) Thanks for the great recipe!