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29 December 2010

Leg of Lamb and Christmas Eve Dinner...

I am a creature of habit. I am usually with my family on Christmas Day, opening gifts and drinking coffee with rum and snacking on chocolate chip cookies. However, with the way the last year has gone, it would be one of the few times, I would not be with my family and there would be no Christmas Day celebration. My in laws like to get out for Christmas, preferring instead the quiet rain of Monterey to the "affair" of Christmas. I do not blame them. Steven and I had the house to ourselves to spend a quiet Christmas together.
As a family, we opted instead to have Christmas on Christmas Eve with a very French inspired dinner. I marinated a leg of lamb for 3 days in white wine, dijon, lemon and shallots, rosemary, thyme and mint.
When planning a beautiful meal, timing and preparation are everything. I put all my ingredients into their little bowls, portioned out exactly. It makes things go quick and you're not pulling out a bunch of stuff from the cabinet or fridge.
It's called "Mise en Place" (meese in plas) and it is the one thing each chef is responsible for, setting up their own prep. If you do a lousy job, or someone steals from you... it can hinder your whole shift when working the line on a busy night. So, set your mise and don't let anyone mess with it. Also hide your towels and extra aprons. 

Christmas Eve Dinner 
"Are You Game?" Rubbed and Roasted Leg of Lamb with Zinfandel-Rosemary Gravy
Garlic Whipped Potatoes
Oven-Roasted Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts with Shallot butter
Mascarpone Chai Cheesecake

This is for a 4 1/2 pound boneless leg of lamb.

Marinade:

2 lemons, zested and squeezed (1/4 c juice)
1 cup white wine, Pinot Gris or Chardonnay
2 ea shallots, sliced
1/2 c dijon mustard
1 tbsp, finely chopped rosemary, 
1 tbsp, finely chopped thyme
3 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves
1 tbsp "Are You Game" seasoning from Pollen Ranch
1/2 c olive oil

Mix all ingredients together and place in ziploc bag with Lamb, allow to sit for 24-72 hours, in the refrigerator, turning over every 12 to make sure it is throughly marinated. The longer you marinate, the better... especially if you are serving people who are "scared" of lamb and claim it's "too gamey" (Whatever). 

When you are ready to roast, remove from fridge and let get the chill off. Heat the oven to 400, remove lamb from marinade and dry off. Then, dry rub the roast with:

2 TB "Are You Game"
2 TB freshly chopped mint leaves
2 TB freshly minced garlic

I placed the roast directly on the oven rack (see pic above) and below I placed a baking pan to catch drippings, to which I also added:

1 c. Zinfandel
1/2 c lemon juice
3 rosemary sprigs
1/2 c beef stock 

This is going to reduce as well as catch all the loveliness that will be dripping off the leg of lamb and make your gravy base. 

Let your lamb roast for about 1 1/2 hours, checking the temp with a meat thermometer, until the internal temp is right at 135F, then pull it out, set it on your cutting board and cover with foil. Allow the roast to rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing. Let it go to 145F for a medium roast. Try not to overcook it, unless you are cooking for people who like their meat "done".

Take your oven pan, strain ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce by 1/2, add in 1 TBSP dijon mustard, salt and pepper to taste. Turn off heat and whisk in 2 TBSP unsalted butter. Taste, taste taste. Adjust flavors and consistency. You can add a slurry of cornstarch and cold water (1:1 ratio) if you need to thicken the gravy. 


Now, I am not going to sit here and give you all my secrets. I mean, garlic whipped potatoes and oven roasted veggies are not rocket science and are fairly easy. If you require a recipe, ask and I will be more than happy to personally share my techniques. With the proliferation of food blogs and online material, I think you can find a plethora of recipes for those. I am also not posting a recipe for my cheesecake. I have to keep some things private, and one day someone will PAY me millions for that recipe... this is all you get:

Not planning on anything for New Year's Eve. 2011 should be an interesting year. It is already one full of HOPE and CHANGE. I am excited to continue this blog and working on new stuff to bring you. I will actually have a kitchen of my own and space to work. So, with that I close this blog of 2010. There may be one more before the year's end... but I am so unpredictable, and who knows what will happen in the next few days. Well, signing off for now... 
Eat Well, Live Happy!

Chef Constance Bearden.
Peace

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful post, Connie. The information was very valuable, the recipe sounds delicious and I am encouraged to try it. But what I loved most of all the post is the tone of it. It sounds peaceful, personal, upbeat, centered, hopeful...just the right tone for the beginning of a new year. I wish you tanti auguri per un anno nuovo...2011!

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