I am a very lucky person. I live outside of the borders of New York City, but being in one of its bedroom communities, I have a lot of its benefits. One of these is a store called Fairway. Besides the best cheese counter I've seen outside of Murrray's Cheese Shop in the Village, they occasionally have fabulous sales, and I've never had anything from the store that wasn't of the highest quality. And when I don't feel like cooking, their hot bar makes a damn fine cheese steak.
I was in the mood for pesto (which I bought, I don't do a lot of cooking in November), but Nexx, as he has often mentioned, is a meatitarian. Meat is necessary at two out of three meals (caffeine for breakfast). I'm really not living with a male human. It's a six-foot cat in an Asian man suit.
Anyway, at a lovely Italian restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama I had some lamb finished with pesto, so when we went to Fairway, we looked at chops. I wasn't in love with the way they looked, then Nexx drew my attention to some boneless legs--nicely wrapped in twine. The price was right, so into the cart they went.
I've made lamb a few times, usually chops, though I have roasted an entire leg. The one I bought was about 3/4 of a pound, which I figured would feed the two of us pretty well, especially with pasta.
Lamb and garlic do well together and I had a glut of garlic in the fridge. Focusing my rage at the politcal ads on television, I used a paring knife and stabbed several holes in the roast, about 3/4 of an inch apart. Into the holes, I slipped some slivers of garlic. Once that was complete, I added a light sprinkle of salt, followed by some freshly ground pepper. Instead of your standard olive oil, I used some lemon oil. Lemon and basil go well together in various presentations (including gelato) and I thought it would lighten the meal up a bit.
I roasted the lamb at 425 F for about thirty minutes, which was a guess. I stabbed it with the meat thermometer (I'm really not that violent a person, I promise) and it registered on the low side of medium rare. I pulled it out of the oven, covered the pan with foil and started the water for pasta.
While the pasta was draining and its pot was cooling, I sliced the lamb thinly. Some of the garlic fell out onto the cutting board, but my sweetie valiantly rode to the rescue and ate them. After tossing the pesto with the pasta (say that five times fast), I put it onto plates, topped with sliced lamb and added a touch more pesto to top everything off.
We served this with a Spanish red wine--a tempranillo, if I recall correctly. Pairing this dish with alcohol is kind of tough. Pesto can be pretty delicate, so a white might be called for. Lamb, on the other hand, is rather rich and can stand up to a red. The red and the basil didn't quite work, but I can live with that.
It's not a combination I expect to have every day, or even every Sunday, but if Fairway keeps having the lamb at that price, I look forward to finding other things to do with it.
What's your favorite way to eat lamb?