In Like a Lamb

3 savory recipes to elevate your cookout.

Summer heralds the return of backyard, on-the-lawn, in-the-park, and by-the-pool cookouts, and we cannot wait to celebrate this 4th of July with our own gathering of family and friends, brought together not only by the enjoyment of good company, but by the thrill of good food.

This year, why not throw something a little different on the grill? Sure, the old beef and pork are good stand-bys, but we love the richness of lamb. Lamb burgers, lamb hot dogs, lamb meatballs and here, three of our favorite lamb recipes to give your cookout a little something extra.

Lamb Spiedie

3 pound boneless leg of lamb, trimmed and butterflied 

For the marinade:
¾  cup red wine vinegar
½  cup olive oil
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon oregano
½  teaspoon mint
dash of red pepper flakes, to taste
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all marinade ingredients together and immerse the butterflied leg of lamb. Marinate overnight.  The lamb can be roasted at 400 degrees, but is best done on a medium-hot charcoal grill. Cook to desired doneness. Slice and serve on crusty Italian bread and garnish with arugula.

Serves 8

Lamb Ragu Puttanesca

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 lamb shanks
salt to taste
pepper to taste
2 cups diced onion
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
½  teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon anchovy paste
4 tablespoons whole capers in brine, drained
¾  cup black olives, quartered
2 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
1 pound rigatoni pasta, cooked
2 tablespoons chopped parsley, for garnish
¼  cup feta cheese, for garnish

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat oil in ovenproof pot over high heat. Season lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Brown shanks on all sides, then remove from pot and set aside. 

Drain off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from pot and add onion, garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté on medium heat until vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes. Add wine, anchovy paste, capers and olives and simmer until liquid has almost evaporated. Add stock and tomatoes, stirring to combine all ingredients. Add shanks back to pot. Bring to boil on stovetop before covering tightly and placing in oven. 

Turn lamb shanks after 1 hour, cover and place back in oven for 1 more hour, or until meat is tender enough to fall off the bone. Remove shanks from braising liquid and set aside to cool.

When shanks are cool enough to handle, shred meat, discarding excess fat and bone. Add meat back to braising liquid, stirring to combine. Warm gently over low heat and serve with rigatoni pasta. Garnish with chopped parsley and feta cheese.

Serves 8

Grilled Leg of Lamb 

For fish sauce caramel:
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon minced garlic
½ cup fish sauce
¼ cup caramel sauce
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoons soy sauce

Put sugar and lemon juice in a 2-quart sauce pot, and add enough water to make it look like wet sand. Bring to a boil, and reduce temperature to low and simmer until it reaches a dark amber color. Remove from flame, and whisk in cream and butter being careful not to splash as it can cause serious burns. Add remaining ingredients and gently simmer for 5 minutes, then allow to steep for an additional 30 minutes.  

For the grits:
1 cup grits
2 cups water
2 cups whole milk
5 tablespoons butter

Bring the water and milk to a rolling boil. In a slow steady steam, whisk in the grits and reduce to a simmer. Cook grits, stirring regularly, for about 1 hour or until smooth and creamy. Incorporate the butter and season with salt and pepper before serving.

For the lamb:
1 leg of lamb, cleaned and cut into 1-inch cubes
Wooden or metal skewers, if using wood soak for an hour before using
Fresh herbs, such as mint, cilantro, parsley and chives

Preheat grill or cast iron pan until it smokes. Skewer lamb, and cook until dark brown on all sides, about 1 ½  minutes per side. As meat comes off the grill, dip it into fish sauce caramel. Place meat on top of the grits. Garnish with a liberal amount of fresh herbs.   

Serves 10

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