I was having drinks with friends discussing what to write about for my next article when it was suggested that I write about spring lamb. So, I decided to prepare a Roast Leg of Lamb with a Sweet Onion Relish and Pecan Mint Pest.
I will place a little pesto on the plate, followed by a small spoon of the hot au jus, which will release a lot of the flavors in the pesto.
First step is getting your lamb, which I am going to use the leg, but these sides would also go great with chops, saddle, rack or pretty much any good cut. I’ll get the leg already boned, but if it is already tied, I will untie it and do a little more trimming. There is usually a little more of a fat cap than I want on the outside, and there are some sinewy pieces inside that I also want to cut out.
Once the leg is untied and you have taken most of the outside fat off and discarded it, open it so you can see the inner leg. There are some smaller pieces held on by connective tissue called silver skin in many kitchens. This skin is tough and will remain chewy, so you want to cut it out. Some of the smaller pieces of meat also will come with it and you want to save both for the sauce. Retie the leg, season with salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary, sear it all around and roast it to medium rare.
PREPARE Chef Smitty’s recipe for Sweet Onion Relish
Place the trimmings in a small heavy pot and brown on the stove top. Add a small chopped carrot, a slice of chopped onion and a stick of chopped celery and let that brown a little more. Cover with water (about 2 cups), bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer adding a sprig of thyme, and salt and pepper to taste after the liquid has turned a golden color and it has a nice subtle lamb flavor.
When all is ready to plate, I will place a little pesto (room temperature) on the plate first, followed by a small spoon of the hot au jus, which will release a lot of the flavors in the pesto. The lamb will go on top of the pesto with a tiny bit more au jus and the Sweet Onion Relish will be just to the side. Take a bite of the lamb including some of both the pesto and the relish and enjoy.
Pecan Mint Pesto
1 bunch mint
½ bunch basil
4-6 cloves garlic
1/8 C pecans, slightly toasted
1/8 C grated parmigiano or other hard cheese
4-6 T extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Before I give the recipe, I want to stress the strengths of flavors of herbs can vary a lot so I like to taste the various herbs before I start to get an idea of the proportions of each I want to use. As with most recipes, add things a little at a time, use the recipe as a guide, and go by your taste buds.
Place the herbs, half the, oil, nuts, cheese and garlic in the blender. Slowly add the rest of the rest of everything to taste. The consistency should be a paste and not to runny, so add the oil a little at a time and season with salt and pepper to taste.