46: Provencal Leg of Lamb and 47: Roasted Vegetables with Arugula Pesto
The University of Illinois has a Meat Sales Room, where they sell the products turned out by students in Animal Sciences. They have very limited hours – they only stay open 30 minutes after I get off work two days a week, which means I don’t go there too often. The guy who supervises the Meat Sales Room sends emails with info about whatever they have fresh that day and whatever’s coming up or has happened (did you realize there’s a Meat Processors Convention?), and he usually makes groaner jokes that I like to forward to Alex.
What I really like about the Meat Sales Room: they’re cheap. I bought lamb last month because it was marked down – fresh ground lamb here is half of what I paid at Meijer. All of their lamb was a lot cheaper, and almost all of the beef and pork is cheaper as well. I got an email that said they had fresh lamb, and so I decided that we had to go by there Thursday after work.
We ended up buying 10.5 pounds of meat.
Some of that was snack sticks and summer sausage, since they also cure meats as well. There’s also frozen lamb chops (they were out of fresh, which is what I really wanted) which I’ll make in the future, and a nice chuck-eye roast which I still need to figure out what I’m going to do to it. But the pertinent thing for Friday night’s dinner was the 4lb boneless leg of lamb that I bought.
I like making nice, leisurely dinners for Friday nights if we’re staying in. I know that I can make something more elaborate and take a little extra time since we don’t have to get up so early the next morning.
I wanted a recipe where I’d be able to taste the lamb, not just flavorings that I add to it. So I decided to make Provencal Roast Leg of Lamb, from the Bride and Groom Cookbook. You rub the lamb with garlic, rosemary, and thyme, along with some salt, pepper, and olive oil. You roast at 425F for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350F. I set my meat thermometer for 140F, and just watched the temperature in the roast go up.
I wanted to know when dinner would be ready because I also needed to roast potatoes and carrots in the oven, and I didn’t want to over-roast them if I could help it. […so I asked Alex to do a little math for me to help predict it. He ended up running statistical regressions in Excel. I had already figured out that the temperature was rising by about a degree a minute, but his math confirmed it and told us that there was no increase in temperature acceleration. It was fun telling him temperatures all evening.] I made Roasted Vegetables with Arugula Pesto as our side dish. Rather than use fingerling potatoes and baby carrots, I cut the adult versions down to the appropriate size. I halved the Arugula Pesto recipe since the vegetables only used half of the pesto anyway. I used walnuts in the pesto instead of pine nuts, and omitted the cheese.
I realize now that I forgot to add the arugula garnish to the vegetables, but I don’t think we missed it. The arugula pesto was very tasty. It was a nice change from basil pesto. I think that this recipe looked very nice as well.
I liked the lamb, but none of my pictures of the lamb turned out very well. I get the impression that lamb is supposed to be served medium or medium-rare, whereas I cannot eat meat unless it’s closer to medium-well. Although it’s not generally a desirable trait, my leg of lamb encompassed all of the wellness gradations. It probably would have cooked more evenly if I could have let it sit out of the fridge for a little while before I put it in the oven. I ate the slices of lamb that were a little more well-done.
I liked the recipe I used. I thought that the rosemary, garlic, and thyme allowed the taste of lamb to shine through. I tentatively will say that I like this cut, the leg of lamb, as well. I still believe it’s the stronger flavor of the fat that I don’t like, and with the leg I was able to avoid the fat and enjoy a milder lamb flavor. I even made a sauce from the drippings. This sauce was “lamb-ier” but still very good, and I didn’t feel like it was too strong a flavor.
Overall, this was a pretty good meal. I’m looking forward to trying both of the recipes again at some point in the future.