Curried Lamb Leg with Roasted Grape Relish and Smashed Chickpeas

I know. Lamb is really cute. But you know what else it is? DEEElicious. It may make some people think of spring lamb, but I think of autumn grills and winter braises. Lamb represents the richer end of the red meat spectrum, so it’s perfectly suited for long marinades and slow cooking. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. As much as I love sitting by the fireplace in the depth of winter with a hearty roast, we’re still just crossing the border into fall. Let’s save the deep roasting for later in the year. That doesn’t mean we can’t have succulent lamb now, though!

With a bold marinade, a healthy sear and a little time to finish in the oven, lamb is a great transition from summer to fall to winter.  Throw in a couple of summery flavors and you’ve got this great blend of seasons on your plate!

Curried Lamb Leg with Roasted Grape Relish and Smashed Chickpeas
Serves 4
Chickpea Smash
1 ½ pints Dry Chickpeas
¾ Cinnamon Stick
1 ½ tsp Fennel Seed
Pinch Whole Black Peppercorns
1 ½ tsp Whole Cumin
3 tsp Kosher Salt, divided
2/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pinch Lemon Zest
½ tsp Lemon Juice
1 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
½ cup  Chicken Stock
½ cup Smoked Flagship
Lamb Marinade
3 Tbsp Garlic Clove, very roughly chopped
2 Tbsp Madras Curry Powder
2 ½ tsp  Whole Dried Oregano
½ tsp Cayenne Powder
4 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Tbsp Seasoned Rice Vinegar
1 ½ tsp Kosher Salt
4 trimmed legs of lamb, 7 oz each

2 Tbsp Canola Oil
Roasted Grape Relish
4 cups de-stemmed, halved red and green grapes

1 Tbsp Canola Oil
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
1 tsp Kosher Salt
2 Tbsp Capers in juice
3 Tbsp Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar
1 ½ tsp thinly sliced Red Onion
Dash Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Pinch Kosher Salt
1 Tbsp Mint, very coarse chiffonade
1 Tbsp Italian Parsley, very coarsely chopped

Soak beans overnight. Rinse and sort well. In a wide stockpot, cover beans with cold water.  Create a cheesecloth satchel with the spices, except the salt, and add to the pot.  Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium and cook until done but not mushy, about 1 hour. While cooking, remove starch as it rises to the surface. The last 15 minutes of cooking add 2 teaspoons of the kosher salt. Strain the beans and reserve 1/3 cup of the cooking liquid.  Combine beans, reserved liquid and olive oil in a food processor and mix coarsely, leaving plenty of chunky texture. Put mixture in a large bowl and mix in lemon, ground pepper and remaining salt. Transfer it all to a large pan and combine with chicken stock and Smoked Flagship cheese over medium heat until cheese is melted, stirring regularly.
Combine the garlic, curry powder, oregano, olive oil and kosher salt for the marinade. Add the lamb and toss to coat well and marinate for 3 – 8 hours. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and heat a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Once hot, add 2 tablespoons of canola oil but don’t let it get hot enough to start smoking. Remove lamb from marinade and put it in the pan, searing until a nice, caramelized crust forms, about 3-4 minutes. Turn the legs over in the pan and cook for a few more minutes. Transfer lamb to the oven either in the same pan or an oven safe dish and finish for about 4 minutes, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 130 degrees F. Remove from the oven and let the meat rest for about 5 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200 with convection fan on high. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt and the canola oil. Pour onto a baking sheet and bake. Check at an hour that they’re not over-cooked. It will likely take about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove grapes and toss them well with all remaining ingredients.

Plate by spooning about ¾ cup of the chickpea smash into the middle of the plate. Spoon 3 tablespoons of the relish alongside the chickpeas. Cut the lamb in two on a bias and place on top of the chickpeas, next to the grape relish. 

I recommend making the roasted grape relish while the lamb is marinating so you don’t have to worry about conflicting oven temperatures. The pictures here are with the lamb sliced, but in playing around with it, I decided I liked the two big chunks of lamb described in the recipe better. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Kurt's Flatiron Faves - Veritas

Welcome back to my little Flatiron tour! I hope you enjoyed the recipe I posted last week. Make sure to let me know if you try it! I’d love to know how it turned out for you and what little tweaks you may have added.

Back to New York! From 22nd Ave, we make our way back down Broadway to take a left onto 20th. En route, we find ourselves across the street from Beecher’s itself. That doesn’t mean we’re anywhere near done though! We’ll be coming back to Beecher’s from the south at the end of our tour.

That this week’s restaurant, Veritas, follows last week’s visit to Almond, makes sense not just geographically, being just off of Broadway on the north side of 20th, but also thematically. As you’ll remember, Almond had an atmosphere of comfort that I really enjoyed because of the great way it translated the neighborhood French bistro into an urban, Big Apple living room.

Veritas was a really big deal when it opened in 1999 to rave reviews and a three star review from Ruth Reichl in the Times. Over time, its reputation waned from being an exciting scene for new food to just another expensive New York restaurant.

I guess my return to New York was well-timed, because the whole restaurant was apparently re-imagined last November, which is when Chef Sam Hazen took over the food side of things. I’ll have to admit, I didn’t actually get a chance to dine in the restaurant itself – I just spent time in the bar.

Similar to Almond, what struck me was the warmth and friendliness of the staff, which I almost didn’t expect given the more haute cuisine style of food it seemed to offer. The “haute-r” you get in the culinary world, the more difficult it is to avoid that exclusive pretention that has historically stigmatized really creative chefs and dedicated kitchens. Some places fight this perception tooth and nail, which often ends up in a contrived sense of pseudo-informality.

Veritas seems to take the opposite approach. The tooth and nail strategy is replaced by keeping it simple: engaging staff and a warm, welcoming atmosphere surrounded in unobtrusive earth tones. I should note that I’m not the only one who thinks they’ve done well in their transformation. Sam Sifton of the Times recently bestowed another three star review of Veritas as well.

From one haute New American restaurant to another, next week we’ll cross the street to Gramercy Tavern, the second of Danny Meyer’s restaurants on my list of neighborhood favorites.

Have you been to Veritas? Or any of the other places on my list so far? I’d love to hear what you think about them in comments, especially specific dish or drink recommendations! See you next week!


View Beecher's and Veritas in a larger map

BBQ Planked Salmon with Roasted Corn Risotto and Fresh Herb Salad

Wow, Seattle has really thrown us a curve ball in terms of weather, hasn’t it? It seems like we’ve actually got a full-on summer now, albeit a little later than usual.

I am more than fine with that though, because of the bounteous options that result from summer overlapping autumn like this. There’s a crazy explosion happening right now, where the fresh flavors of summer are still happening right alongside the earthy delights of autumn. That’s where this recipe comes from.

Fresh summer salmon with delicious roasted corn meets a light autumn risotto and hearty lobster mushrooms.

Bennett’s served it last week, and will continue to do so through the week, only now they’re using wild Bristol Bay Sockeye salmon as part of DineOut for Bristol Bay to help them save their wild salmon runs in Alaska.

I hope you enjoy the recipe – let me know how it works out for you!

BBQ Planked Salmon with Roasted Corn Risotto and Fresh Herb Salad
Serves 5

5 cedar plank boards

2 cups cleaned and torn (1 to 2-inch pieces) Lobster mushrooms
10 tsp canola oil
2-1/2 tsp Old Bay

2 lbs salmon, trimmed, cut into 5 equal pieces
5 tsp canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Roasted Corn Risotto (recipe follows)

Fresh Herb Salad (recipe follows)


Preheat the oven to 425°F. Set cedar planks in water to soak for at least 1 hour.

While the planks are soaking, prepare the mushrooms. Toss the mushrooms with oil and Old Bay. Bake on a baking sheet until they begin to brown and start to soften, about 8 minutes. Set aside.

Prepare your grill by scraping it, oiling it, and heating it to medium-high. Put the wet planks on the grill for a few minutes. Brush the salmon with the oil (about 1 tsp per piece) and add a sprinkle of salt and pepper to each side of each piece. Place the salmon on the planks and cover. Cook until the juices turn opaque and solid on the top of the fish and it is just cooked through, about 8 minutes.

To plate, scoop some Roasted Corn Risotto into a bowl, then lay the salmon on top. Top with the Fresh Herb Salad and place the mushrooms around the bowl.

ROASTED CORN RISOTTO

2 ears of corn, cleaned and kernels cut off the cob
2-1/2 tsp canola oil
pinch of Kosher salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper

7 to 8 cups low-sodium chicken stock
2-1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cups minced white onion
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
2-1/2 cups Arborio rice
1-1/3 cups dry white wine
1-1/2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
2/3 cup Beecher’s Brad’s Parmesan, large grated
2/3 cup cream
1-1/3 Tbsp freshly chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
2-1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1-1/3 Tbsp grated lemon zest

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425°F.
First, prepare the corn by tossing it with the oil, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast until done and slightly brown (about 20 minutes).  Set aside to cool.

Heat the stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan.  If using an unsalted broth, add 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt. Reduce the heat to very low. 
In a large heavy-bottomed skillet at least 10 inches wide, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and salt.  Cook slowly for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often with a wooden spoon until softened.

Add the Arborio rice to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, to coat the rice with the oil, about 3 minutes.  Pour in the white wine and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes or until it is mostly absorbed.  Ladle 2 to 2 1/2 cups of the stock over the rice and stir constantly.  (Adjust the heat to maintain a gently simmer.)  When all of the liquid has been absorbed, (your stirring spoon leaves a trail showing the bottom of the pot), ladle in another 1 ½ to 2 cups of stock, again stirring until the liquid has been absorbed.  After the third and final addition of stock, after the liquid has been absorbed, taste the rice for texture to determine whether it’s al dente and pleasantly creamy.  (If you prefer a softer risotto, add more stock until it has the desired consistency.)

After the last ladle of stock is added, remove from the heat and stir in the cheeses and cream.  Fold in the parsley, 1 1/4 cups of the roasted corn, lemon juice and lemon zest.  Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

FRESH HERB SALAD

1/2 cup shallots, thinly sliced
2 pinches of Kosher salt
2 Tbsp + 1 tsp sherry vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
3-1/3 cups canola-olive oil blend
pinch fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 cup rough chop mix of fresh dill, chive, parsley and basil (tear basil, don’t cut)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the shallots in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, cover with the vinegar and stir until well combined. Let the mushroom mixture sit for at least 15 minutes. Strain out the shallots and set aside, leaving the vinegar in the bowl. To the vinegar, add the lemon juice, canola-olive oil blend, remaining salt, pepper and sugar.

Before serving, in a small bowl, toss the reserved shallots and with the mixed herbs and vinegar dressing. Salt and pepper to taste.

Kurt's Flatiron Faves - Almond Restaurat and Bar

Last week, I took you through Mario Batali’s Eataly, exploring Italian cuisine through the market-style family of shops and mini-restaurants. It would hardly be fair for me to focus on a single country’s cuisine, and it just so happens that my next Flatiron Fave concentrates on classic French bistro fare.

Almond is located on East 22nd, just east of Broadway. This was a place that I could always stop by for an easy (and delicious) bite after work while we were opening Beecher’s. Its creators, Eric Lemonides and Jason Weiner, somehow managed to combine the warmth of an old-style drawing room with the bustle and conviviality of a Parisian bistro. Add to that a really friendly staff, and the second incarnation (the first is out in Bridgehampton) of Almond makes out to be a surprisingly cozy neighborhood haunt.

Their menu adds to this casual sense of the refined. It’s comforting without being comfort food. It’s like going to your friend’s house instead of your grandmother’s house for dinner. They both cook really great food (at least, I hope your friend cooks great food!), but when you’re at your grandma’s you might act a little more polite and refined. That’s not to say you’re a boorish brute at your friend’s house, but you can enjoy great food and company there and still lean back a little and laugh a little more freely.

Next week, we’ll head south on Park Avenue and head back up 20th half a block so I can show you Chef Sam Hazen’s Veritas, a stalwart of contemporary American cuisine. In the meantime, check back on Tuesday for my next recipe post – Cedar-grilled salmon with corn risotto and roasted lobster mushrooms!

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