Last Saturday we had the Sketchy's over for for a little infrared grilling. Up till now we had only been trying small cuts of meat and fish on the grill and I was dying to try a slightly bigger cut. I called my faithful butcher, T at Belmont Butchery, and put in an order for a 4lb leg of lamb, sirloin end. She came through and I picked up a beautiful piece of meat ready for the grill.
The evening arrived and so did the Sketchy's. Actually it got off to a rather shaky start but you would need to read about that at Sketchy's Kitchen for the full story. After repairing the damage and making the first round of martinis we tucked into the first course of the evening.
Purple Artichokes. I had found these at Fresh Market and they looked interesting. I thought about serving them slightly chilled with a garlic aioli to dip. Thinking back, while at the market, I remembered a slightly frustrating story by RVA Foodie and his attempt to make aioli. Erring on the side of caution I decided to pick up some organic garlic aioli at Fresh Market and save my first try at the substance when I might end up only killing my own family through a culinary mishap. Upon arriving home I noticed that the aioli had expired several days ago. Not a good thing for a mayonnaise containing uncooked eggs. Making the trek back from Battery Park to Fresh Market.... well, if you add up the time, energy, wasted gas, frustration. Should have tried to make it from scratch. Live and Learn.
Back to the artichokes. I steamed them for 45 minutes (a little longer than I would green ones as they seemed a bit tough) with water, wine, lemon and onion. Allowing them to cool for a bit they then went into the fridge to chill further. The result was ok. They were very pretty but, even after the 45 minute steam, were still a bit tough and a little stringy. The hearts were good but I am afraid that if I steamed them longer to make the leaves softer they would have been too mushy. Bottom line, looks good on a plate but not worth the premium over green artichokes.
For the lamb, I decided to get some professional advice and went to Brown, Alton Brown. So he gets the credit for the paste and the basics, slightly altered for my grill, of cooking. I had T at Belmont Butchery prep the lamb for me. Basically debone and butterfly so it was a large flat piece. The next step was to make the rub. In a small food processor I added:
8 mint leaves
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
5 tablespoons dijon mustard
Blend into a paste. Rub the paste on one side of the lamb, roll it up and tie with butcher's string. To help the flavours even out I did all this the day before. I removed the lamb from the refrigerator about an hour before cooking. When it came time to grill Alton was no longer any help as he used charcoal so I was using educated guesses after that.
I started the heat out at the sear (700+) level. About 5 minutes on each side got the lamb going well. Next I dropped the heat level to the middle of the grill range which should put the temp at around 350. I did 20 minutes on each side (rotating 180 degrees to avoid cool spots) and then checked with a meat thermometer. Honestly, I am hopeless when it comes to meat thermometers. It kept coming up at 150 but I knew that was wrong. I laid down a piece of foil to avoid flare ups and put it on the coolest part of the grill for another 10 minutes. Removed from the grill and then covered for a 15 minutes rest. When sliced it was medium rare, except for a couple of rare slices towards the center. Perfect.
I had a hankering for some sort of reduction to go with it but couldn't find a recipe for what I wanted. Made one up off the cuff with the idea that it would go in the trash if it failed. Took 1 quart of lamb stock (from Belmont Butchery), 2 cups medium dry sherry, mint leaves and rosemary. Placed in a sauce pan, brought to a boil, and then lowered the heat and allowed to reduce to about a cup and a half. It came out pretty good and it took only a little bit to add the flavour I was looking for.
Of course every dinner needs some sort of activity. What could be more fun than drinking and catching cats. So we put out the traps baited with oil infused mackerel. Quickly we had three cats in the traps and safely away into the basement. The next morning they were sent off for their visit with the vet and then returned in the afternoon. Sadly, that evening when I took them a post-op meal one of the cats had expired. A call to the vet at Operation Cat Nip and the consensus was a heart defect, the result of inbreeding in the feral cat colony in our 'hood. The expired cat was also lactating so I checked around the house and in the bushes for any kittens but couldn't locate any.
The tally, if your keeping track, so far:
4 female/2 males - Trapped Fixed and Released
1 male - Not Healthy or Injured - Euthanized
1 female - Didn't Learn Lesson & Trapped Again
1 female - Didn't Survive Procedure
Come back next month for Round #4 of the Feral Feline Hunt!