Tuesday, March 15, 2011

On The List: Saddle Of Lamb

Here at Chez Noonie we are starting to plan for Passover, a favorite holiday in these parts. We have a few standards, including matzoh ball soup and home made gefilte fish. At our table, we also usually serve lamb, once an uneasy point of contention in our family. Nowadays I am more confident, and ready to take on new challenges. This year, we will be trying a new dish, stuffed saddle of lamb.

The saddle is one of those quiet butcher cuts that you don't generally see lurking on the supermarket shelves. It is comprised of the backbone and both loins and by all accounts delicious. Saddle of lamb is also pricey and hard to come by.

Another challenge with saddle of lamb is the actual butchering. You want to be very specific with your meat man here, as different recipes call for different techniques. Most recipes call for a boneless cut, which by most accounts must be rendered by a professional, or risk butchering the job. If you are kosher, you will need a schochet (kosher butcher) to remove the sciatic nerve.

Below is the recipe I am currently eying for the main event -- Stuffed Saddle of Lamb. It comes from one of my favorite authors, Joanne Harris, of Chocolat fame. Her cookbooks are lusciously photographed (Fran Warde) and beautifully narrated, such that anytime I read one I finish feeling like I have just returned from France, visiting warm and wonderful friends. I always have luck with their recipes and this one looks like a fun challenge. I will continue posting here as I prepare for this endeavor - in the meantime, please feel free to comment below on your experiences with this kind of lamb, Passover cooking, or anything else on your mind.

Recipe follows below; enjoy every bite.

Agneau Farci
Stuffed Lamb
Original recipe from The French Market by Joann Harris and Fran Warde
Serves 6 - 8

1 3 1/2 lb boned saddle of lamb
2 red peppers
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for the pan
2 red onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 14 oz can of artichoke bottoms
4 oz ground lamb
3 oz pitted black olives, chopped
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves chopped
1 large egg yolk
Sea salt to taste
Pepper, to taste

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Lay the lamb out flat, skin side down, and have some kitchen twine ready for tying.
  2. Roast red peppers over a gas flame until charred. Place in bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more. In a bowl, mix onions and garlic with the artichokes, ground lamb, olives, rosemary, egg yolk, salt, and pepper.
  4. Peel the red peppers, and cut away flesh from the ribs, discarding the seeds.
  5. Spread the artichoke mixture evenly over the lamb. Place all the red peppers in one strip down the middle. Roll the two sides of the lamb together and tie securely with a string at 1 inch intervals.
  6. Lightly oil a roasting pan and add the lamb. Roast for 1 hour and 20 minutes for rare (130 degrees). Remove from oven and let stand in a warm place for 20 minutes. Serve.