The Long Way Home

Lawrenceville Kitchen Notes

The last week of April was pretty grueling.

cook's library


I had a splitting migraine for three days, received some disappointing news at work, then stewed about that for two more days until Friday, when Jeff and I found ourselves being chased home by a road-raging lunatic in a truck.

My comfort during times like these: dreaming up menus, with a  bowl of buttered egg noodles at hand. But we were out of egg noodles. Thursday found us eating mint chocolate chip ice cream for dinner and Friday, a pouch of Knorr chicken noodles (which are pretty awful. Sometimes I eat crappy convenience food for nostalgia’s sake, and then admit later that it tastes like cardboard).

By Monday, Ms. Leslie to the rescue.



I’ve known Leslie for over 16 years, since we were undergrads at Pitt. We met when I waitressed at Delhi Grille – she was eating there with three of her friends and later, at a party, she told me she remembered me and thought I was cute. I was pretty cute then, but Leslie is even more adorable – and a naturally-gifted cook.

a kitchen with a view


Food has always been at the center of our friendship – meeting up to eat Indian or Thai, or having one of us cook, while talking about our lives and loves. I am honored that she has eaten my green bean and kielbasa soup and found it to be tasty. Because I am a bad foodie, really, who loves to eat and read about food more than cooking it.



The best way to start a week is to start over — with braised lamb shoulder served with creamy Parmesan polenta and green beans; a salad of bibb lettuce with roasted golden beets, golden raisins, shaved fennel, walnuts and smoked blue cheese, drizzled with fresh lemon juice, pear vinegar and walnut oil; and a bottle of homemade wine care of Reyna’s Nic DiCio, which was surprisingly not homemade-tasting at all.



And despite my feeling worn out, I took my camera with me so that  I could photograph Leslie’s beautiful kitchen, which is like walking into a hug after a long, hard week.

Leslie’s kitchen notes, for when you need a shoulder to lean on (couldn’t resist!):

Braised Local Lamb Shoulder

 (Recommended pot: heavy Dutch oven with a lid)

– Rub a bone-in lamb shoulder roast with crushed fennel seeds, black peppercorns and kosher salt (crushed them with a mortar and pestle).

braised lamb shoulder with creamy parmesan polenta and green beans


– Sear roast in a tablespoon or two of olive oil on all sides until well-browned (about 4 min per side), remove from pan.

– Sauté 1/2 cup chopped fresh fennel, two large carrots, chopped, two minced cloves of garlic, and a big handful of ramp greens (which I was lucky enough to have on hand) for about 5 minutes.

– Add 1/2 – 1 cup red wine (or sub white), reduce for a minute, then add about 1 cup of chopped tomatoes (canned tomatoes are fine), two cups of stock (I used veggie stock).  Bring everything to a boil.

– Reduce heat and return roast to pan (make sure that it’s only halfway submerged in the liquid — a proper braise requires a combination of wet heat and dry heat).  Put the lid on the pan and roast at 325 degrees for 2 – 3 hours (depending on the size of the roast), until the meat is falling off the bone (mine took about 2 hours and 15 minutes).

I was also lucky enough to have a meat lamb bone in my freezer, so I thawed it out and stuck it into the braising liquid along with the roast. The connective tissue and marrow in the bone made for an extra velvety sauce.

 Also, before I served it, I threw in a cup or so of peas at the end.  Delish!


4 Comments so far
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Yum! Made me almost brave enough to try lamb; I try to stay away from it, and from veal, because it freaks me out to think about eating baby animals…awww! would love to try this recipe, though, just to say I did it!


Comment by Becky

You would love it, trust me – the lamb was so tender and not gamey. I didn’t even know about the ramp greens until I read the recipe later, so that was an extra bonus!


Comment by Lisa

oh, so hungry now. I need to learn to use lamb more…


Comment by Allegheny Eats

You must! Let’s have a lamb-fest soon – grilled lamb for my birthday?


Comment by Lisa

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