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Editor's Note: While Phil is on sabbatical, we bring you encore presentations of some of his favorite columns over the years. Enjoy.
Welcome to Seasoned Cooking and to Phil's International Flair!
Lamb is perhaps one of my favorite meats to eat. However, there is a big difference between lamb and the mutton that comes from an older sheep. Mutton tends to be a bit tougher in texture, gamier in flavor, and sometimes offensive to people who might otherwise like lamb. So, when selecting lamb in the market, select pieces that look like they came from a small animal. Don't overcook lamb and the meat will be flavorful and very tender.
Also, goat meat is very close to lamb in flavor providing the goat is young and has had a good diet of grain and greens. Goats raised in such fashion may be substituted for lamb in many recipes. Once again, however, it is best to select the best cuts for the dish you plan to prepare.
This month's recipe is one method I use to prepare Roast Leg of Lamb. Select a rack of lamb that contains about 8 to 10 ribs and is trimmed of most, but not all, fat. As with most roasts, it is best to let the meat stand out of the refrigerator until it is closer to room temperature before cooking. This makes it easier for the heat to penetrate and allows for more even cooking. If the meat is very cold in the center, the inside will be much less cooked than the outside, and the meat will take longer to cook properly.
The recipe presented this month are from my yet to be published cookbook, Phil's Family and Friends Cookbook. Feel free to email me at with your comments and requests. Be well, and good eating!
Now, on to the recipe!
2 to 3 cloves garlic, sliced to yield 15 to 20 slivers
Prepare the rack of lamb as follows: Slice between the ribs starting at the small end and slice downwards toward the thicker part of the rack. Do not slice all the way through or you will end up with lamb chops. Slice approximately 1/3 to 1/2 way through the thick portion of the rack. The picture above will illustrate how the rack should be sliced.
Next, rub the entire outside of the rack with Kitchen Bouquet until the entire surface is coated. Finally, peel and slice the garlic. With a paring knife, poke holes in the thicker portion of the rack and slip a sliver of garlic along the knife blade into each piercing. Pierce and insert the garlic slices somewhat evenly along the entire rack. I try to place the slivers about 3/4 to 1 inch apart so that the garlic flavor permeates the meat somewhat evenly.
The lamb should now be placed on a wire rack inside of a roasting pan, fatty side up. Covering is not necessary. You do not want to place the lamb directly in a roasting pan because the meat will then saturate in the melted fat. It is preferable to allow the fat to drip away from the meat.
Place the lamb into the center of a preheated oven at 500 degrees. I used the convection roast setting on my new oven. Allow the lamb to cook for 12 minutes for medium rare and 15 minutes for medium. Check the lamb every few minutes to make sure that the outside does not burn, but instead, becomes somewhat browned. The high temperature should melt away most of the untrimmed fat. Turn off the heat to the oven and allow the lamb to cool slowly in the oven with the door closed. Remove the lamb after 10 to 15 minutes and place on a serving platter. Slice the lamb completely through in the locations that the initial cuts were made prior to cooking. The lamb should be pink inside for best results.
Serve with rice, and a vegetable of your choice.
Notes: If you don't have Kitchen Bouquet, try using Worcestershire Sauce instead. Or, a little Maggi Seasoning with a little wine. The herb rosemary if often used in lamb dishes as the flavor seems to accentuate the taste of the lamb in an interesting way. If you are so inclined, consider crushing some rosemary leaves and rub this into the meat as well. Oregano also goes well with lamb and may be used in a "rub."
As a matter of principal and taste, I prefer to keep recipes simple. Herbs should be used in moderation since it is easy to overpower the flavor of a dish by using too much of an herb or spice. Less is better than too much. If the flavor of a dish induces the feeling of wanting more of something, you probably have it just right.