Sunday, January 28, 2007

Lamb II - Mediterranean Style

Here are a few pictures of the Mediterranean-style stuffed lamb loin's I cooked yesterday ... it's super easy to make, with a total prep and cook time of about only two hours. I used two loins for this recipe, but you could use a crown, Saratoga, or sirloin. My two loins served four adults nicely.

For those people that tend not to like lamb, two things. One, I used American farm-raised lamb instead of imported lamb. I believe American lamb has a much better taste then imported lamb, say from New Zealand, which tends to have that gamey taste people often say as to why they don't like lamb. Second, the combination of stuffing ingredients in this recipe melds so well with the lamb that there's an explosion of flavors in your mouth and no gamey taste at all.

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 cup finely chopped onion (or shallot)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup shredded spinach leaves
1/4 cup fresh basil, shredded
2 tablespoons finely chopped sundried tomatoes in olive oil
2 tablespoons pine nuts or sunflower seeds, chopped, toasted
2 teaspoons lemon pepper, divided (or lemon rind)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1-3/4 to 2 pounds boneless American Lamb sirloin roast ... I used loins

Remember, a recipe is only a roadmap, so you can make a change here and a change there to make it special for you. Here's a couple of tweaks you can make ... if up can't find fresh basil, just use dried which will work fine (just crush the dried leaves in the palm of your hand before using to release its oils); I toasted the pine nuts in a saute pan until the turned brown (be careful, to much heat will burn them and then they taste, well, burnt); instead of onions, I used shallots, which I believe have a sweeter taste; and, for the lemon pepper, I used fresh lemon rind and freshly cracked pepper instead of lemon pepper out of a bottle...the bottle version, I think, has too much salt and other ingredients...the fresh lemon rind and cracked pepper just gives that extra zing! But, use the lemon pepper if you have it.


In medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil, cook onion and garlic over medium heat for 3 minutes. Mix in spinach, basil, sundried tomatoes, pine nuts and 1 teaspoon lemon pepper (or lemon rind, salt and pepper). Cook additional 2 to 3 minutes until spinach is wilted.

Mix in feta cheese; set aside.

Remove all visible fat from meat; slice halfway through meat down center lengthwise. Cover with plastic wrap, and with meat mallet pound to 1-inch thick. Place filling down center of meat.

Roll and tie with string at 2-inch intervals. Brush with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon lemon pepper (or lemon rind, salt and pepper). Place on rack in roasting pan and roast in 325 degrees F oven to desired degree of doneness: 145 degrees F for medium-rare, 160 degrees F for medium or 170 degrees F for well (I have to say that well is too done for'll be dry and leathery, with an almost kinda liver taste). Cover and let roast stand 10 minutes before carving. Internal temperature will rise approximately 10 degrees.

Here's a picture of the lamb cut into 1-inch slices. Look at the chunk of feta. The vibrant colors of the red sun dried tomatoes, the toasted pine nuts, brilliant green spinach and white feta is so appetizing. I cooked the lamb to 140 degrees F and then removed, let it sit for 10 minutes, which brought up the temp about 10 degrees F. The meat was medium...perfect. Lamb too well done is tough, and then it turns gamey.

Don't forget dessert!

This was delicious; oh, I served a nice full-bodied Cab, and the side was organic long grain rice with golden raisins that were soaked in Port. Go to your local butcher (Wheaton Meat Market is awesome) and ask them for some lamb.

Let me know if you make this dish, or what other lamb dishes your prepare.

Happy Eating! Mr. Foodie