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.

7:00

 

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.

dishes

 

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.

leslie

 

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!

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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!

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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!

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Comment by Lisa

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

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Comment by Allegheny Eats

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

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Comment by Lisa




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