Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Emeril's Delmonico's Artichoke Stuffed Leg of Lamb

Recently good intentions around here resulted in someone wielding a meat mallet and muttering un-pleasantries. But, it was my Mom's birthday as I mentioned here and consequently absolutely worth burdening my children with memories of the Butterflied Leg of Lamb War of 2009, as I affectionately call it now.

The struggle for this dramatic presentation was worth it. So much so that this will likely be our new Easter dinner in the future. Honestly, it does have to be a really special occasion in my book because the sum total of all these steps, juggled between the needs of a toddler and newborn, took parts of three days. But a birthday certainly is cause enough and once you eat this roast you will not go back to grilled leg of lamb so I recommend finding or making up a very special day and rolling around on the counter with a huge cut of lamb. Okay?

Moving on. This roast made such a beautiful presentation that it brought the dining room to silence when I brought it to the table: It is big, colorful, and a fabulous showgirl of a roast on the platter. I would make it again just to see a family full of dish-sized eyes and excited glances. It is a luxe thing one never sees anymore, like most of the dishes of Delmonico's, a favorite haunt of mine in New Orleans. Worth trying even once in a lifetime as you note your table of impressed guests when dinner has begun and you simultaneously realize you know how one feels when they summit a very great peak.

New Orleans-style Artichoke Stuffed Leg of Lamb with Garlic-Wine Sauce, Mint Pesto, and Baby Potatoes
adapted from Emeril's Delmonico: A Restaurant with a Past
serves 8*

You will need to make the lamb stock first. It is not available in stores generally, here is a decent recipe. If you cannot, use a high-quality beef stock. Then make and trim up the artichokes. And make some bread crumbs, before you do anything, you have a couple of hours of work ahead of you, so carve out time accordingly.

*This recipe stated it will serve 6, in fact, it served that with nearly half remaining, gyros for five the following night and still yielded a decent portion remaining, for which Puppy was very thankful. It is really quite an enormous roast.

4 medium size boiled artichokes, trimmed of leaves and cleaned, hearts only, chopped**
1/4 pancetta (or bacon) in small dice
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups fine dry (unseasoned) breadcrumbs (I made my own, see below)
3/4 cup olive oil + 3 tablespoons for the roasting pan
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon finely ground pepper
Pinch of cayenne
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Regianno
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon creole seasoning
One 4 lb leg of leg (after de-boning), butterflied and trimmed
1 3/4 pound small red (new) potatoes

Mint Pesto* (below)
Garlic-Wine Sauce (requires the lamb stock, will post this recipe shortly)

*recipe follows
** do not substitute canned artichoke hearts

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the pancetta until crisp and the fat is rendered. Remove the pancetta from the skillet and place on a piece of paper towel to drain. Add the onions to the remaining fat in the pan and cook for 3 minutes . Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Add the bread crumbs, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and the cayenne and cook, stirring until the bread crumbs are lightly toasted and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add the parsley and oregano, stir and remove from the heat. Allow to cool 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the bread crumb mixture with the diced artichoke hearts, pancetta, cheese, lemon juice, lemon zest, and creole seasoning. Add the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and stir until well blended.

Spread the butterflied leg of lamb, boned side up, on a work surface covered with plastic wrap. Cover with a second sheet of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet to a 3/4 inch thickness (be patient). Spread the bread crumb mixture evenly across the meat leaving a 1/2 border on all sides. Roll the meat over the stuffing, jelly roll fashion, and tuck in the ends. Tie with kitchen twine every two inches and season the outside of the lamb with the remaining salt and pepper.

Place three tablespoons in a large roasting pan and swirl to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the meat and place in the oven to roast until brown and tender and the meat registers your desired level of doneness on a meat thermometer: About 45 minutes for medium-rare, but be careful as different parts of the roast will be cooked sooner.

Meanwhile, put the potatoes in a pot and cover with salted cold water by 1 inch. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes or until soft to a fork. Drain, and throw them into the pan with the roast to brown while the roast finishes cooking, turning them once before you remove the roast from the oven, they will be light brown and a little crispy.

Remove the roast from the oven, transfer the potatoes to a bowl to keep warm and cover. Then cover the roast in the pan tightly with foil, and allow it to rest for 15 minutes.

Transfer the lamb to a cutting board, remove the twine, and slice in 1 inch thick slices or so. Arrange the meat on a platter and place potatoes around the slices. Garnish with fresh herbs if you care to.

Mint Pesto
makes 3/4 cup

This is a beautiful sauce but several of us do not care for mint in large doses. I substituted half parsley for the mint and it was still overwhelming for them. The original recipe appears here so that you may make your own choice. The recipe also called for the potatoes (and haricort vert I omitted from the outset) to be coated in this mint pesto which would have rendered them inedible here, but mint lovers should douse the potatoes liberally as it is a fabulous pesto.

2 cups fresh packed mint leaves
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (or walnuts, which is what I had handy and they were great)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine the mint, nuts, cheese, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and process until well-chopped. With the machine running slowly, add all the oil through the feed tube and process to make a smooth paste, scraping down the sides as needed. Adjust the seasonings to taste and transfer to an airtight container to store until ready to use, within five days.

Garlic-Wine Sauce
makes 3/4 cup

Do not, under even emergency lamb-roasting circumstances omit this sauce. It is critical to this dish and so amazing I would eat it over toast for breakfast if there had been any remaining. Not kidding.

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh or dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 1/2 cups lamb stock

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, garlic, rosemary, and thyme, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the salt and pepper and stir well. Add the red wine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook at a brisk simmer until the sauce is reduced by half, about 10 minutes.

Reduce the heat to low and add the remaining butter, a few pieces at a time, whisking to incorporate, adding more butter as the previous pieces are incorporated into the sauce.

Remove from the heat, adjust the seasoning to your taste, and serve immediately. You can either pour it directly over the roast or place it on the table in a sauce boat, which is what I chose.

I photographed the climb for you, and chose to leave out the garlic wine sauce-making photos until another post because this is enough for one post! Anyway, lets go to the photos because even as Emeril says: I really make the food (on this site)!

I made the bread crumbs from some three day old bread I had lingering post-making Vicksburg Tomato Sandwiches.... hummmm, delish. Oh! But I digress.

I threw them in the food processor.

And when I had a good mix of both fine and coarse crumbs I threw them on a baking sheet and toasted them at 300 degrees until golden. This recipe is not suited to box crumbs, so I really had to do this.

Here I have my boiled artichokes which I trimmed and diced for the stuffing. See?

I diced them and set them aside for the stuffing.

Then I made the pesto.

Into the processor went the mint (and parsley, in my case),

then garlic, cheese, nuts, and oil.

Hello, there, Gorgeous.

Then I felt I deserved a little break.
Phew. Stop for a little breakfast.

Then to the stuffing in earnest:

That is the mise (prep) for the stuffing: Bread crumbs, onions, cheese, lemon and zest, and spices. The pancetta was already cooking (rendering) in the pan.

See? I let it drain over there somewhere. Then I added the onion to the remaining fat in the same pan and let cook/ soften for three minutes or until I stopped yammering on the phone and remembered what I was doing.

Then I added the crumbs and spices.

Right. Just like that.

I let it cool. In a big bowl finally, I added it to the artichoke, cheese, pancetta, lemon, and lemon zest and stirred it up really well as you see above. Stuffing is done! Wow, it's only been like two and half days! Sooo great. Alrighty then:

Then the butterflied leg went down between two pieces of plastic wrap and I fiercely beat it. But to get it to the suggested 3/4 inch thickness took my strapping Husband, so when you do this get help or have at the ready the biggest mallet or bully club you can lay hands on. Or a cop, yes, a cop would be very helpful in this situation.

Once I was recomposed to a perfect lady, I took the plastic away and placed the filling on the meat just like so, leaving a 1/2 inch border on all sides.

Now then, I took the butchers twine (which I totally remembered to ask the butcher for and did not have to go back to the market looking for later, or anything like that) and tied it around and around. Holy cow! This was right about the time I was wishing I had gone to culinary school, or yachtsman school, and not a humanities school where they dropped the ball on knots altogether. I had to skewer mine as well because there was just stuffing and lamb sticking out all cattywompus everywhere and I needed to take matters in hand. I was not going to be beaten by a piece of meat.

Then I stopped. Rested. And we ate lunch of mozzarella, farm stand tomatoes, my garden basil, and balsamic vinegar sandwiches with rustic chips. Delish.

Back to work!

I hung around for a while, playing with my children and making a menace of myself in the kitchen garden and after a while I went back inside and coated the roasting pan with olive oil and threw the roast into the oven at 400 degrees until the meat thermometer registered done on all parts of the roast, about 45 minutes or so. After it had cooked for 30 minutes, I tossed the boiled potatoes in next to it and they crisped up nicely (my Grandmother's old "roasted potato" trick).

I removed the pan from the oven, covered it tightly with foil and allowed it to rest for 15 minutes.

On to the board it went and I cut in 1 inch bias slices or slightly larger. Like so.

Beg pardon? Yes! I was doing an end zone victory dance. Oh, how beautiful is this thing? If you think for one second I did not take a cell phone picture of this thing and send it to everyone I ever met including the air conditioning repair guy, you are new here.

How did I do, Peeps?


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mamacita said...

I can only marvel at your industry, and wish for you a similarly devoted daughter.

Karine said...

I love the combination of lamb and mint and your recipe sounds wonderful!

Cote de Texas said...

omg. you are incredible. seriously. i wish you lived here i would come get some today!!!! my mouth is watering.

Mid-Atlantic Martha said...

Oh my gosh ---I'm so impressed! You should be on the food network!

randee said...

you are a delight & your posts are always a delight to read.

bon appetit!

bj said...

omigosh...what a delicious looking recipe. I would dearly LOVE to try that someday!

The Quintessential Magpie said...

I am SO impressed. I cannot imagine the time and effort that went into that meal, but I can certainly appreciate it. You're absolutely correct... it is a mountaintop dish. Great work there, Hostess, and you have every right to blush over this one and send pictures on the cell phone, too. :-)

Happy FF!


Frances said...

Whew, I'm exhausted girl! That's one heck of an achievement, I mean this seriously, not the least bit sarcasticly. It looks marvelous and I could just see everyone of your guests eyes popping looking at this delish meal. Have a fab friday.

Poppedijne said...

This sounds like a marvelous meal for a festive occasion.
Well done.
Beautiful table too!!

Cass @ That Old House said...

Oh honey, that's not a meal, that's a career. It's gorgeous. Massive kudos heaped upon your humble head for tackling this and coming out the victor.

Fabulous lamb...and a thoroughly enjoyable post about it. However, after reading this I need a nap.

I do hope your guests are still singing your praises.


Sara's Sweet Surprise said...

This was a labor of love! This dish truly displays a culinary passion. What a joy for your dinner guests to have such a grand meal.

Sweet wishes,

Megan said...

what an elegent dinner. Kudos to you for the hard work. I've never had leg of lamb and now I feel like I'm missing out.

Jane (Frugal Fine Living) said...

Wow, what a fabulous looking meal!


Bonjour Madame said...

You are impressive!

darnold23 said...

TOTALLY AWESOME! I would love for you to join me for Crock Pot Wednesday at We are all about good time, great food and ease of preparation. Come shar your ideas and words of wisdom.

Susie said...

What a yummy tackle!!

Robyn said...

Now that is a tackle! Looks like a lot of work and those potatoes look GREAT! I'm starving now. lol

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