So here is a conundrum: “Do I not cook 7lbs of meat because I don’t host dinner for 10?” or “Do I not host dinner for 10 because I don’t cook 7lbs of meat?”
Luckily, the Tri-Lamb Group helped me break out of this Catch-22 with an offer of a Lamb Dinner Kit for 10. We are big lamb fans, as we have posted previously, and even had Lamb for Thanksgiving instead turkey a couple of years ago. The offer of free lamb was just what was needed to help us break this stalemate and overcome our hesitations for having a large dinner party.
Just pulling off a nice dinner for Carolyn and myself is a bit of challenge with Elena running around. In order to pull this off I realized we needed a Team approach. Luckily, our awesome neighbors who live downstairs, Matt & Natalie, were game for helping out and more importantly, hosting.
We scheduled the dinner for Saturday and a large, insulated box stuff with a lot of lamb and all the necessary recipe ingredients arrived on Friday. While it is not to tough to cook large amounts of meat, it can take a lot of time. If the meat is left in one large piece, the heat has to penetrate all the way through. However, if you butterfly or flatten it out, you are able to cook it much quicker. Butterflying a portion of meat exposes more of the surface to any marinade or rub and also gives it chance to brown; both of which add lots of flavor. the challenge in creating more surface area is that you need a larger pan. If you have a grill, that is not much of a problem. Unfortunately we are stuck in a condo without a good place to grill. A broiler does make for a good grill substitute though and worked great. There was an alternate recipe included for indoor cooking, but it called for searing the butterflied lamb in a pan before roasting it in the oven and we didn’t have a pan which could fit all that lamb. I butterflied the lamb in the morning and let it marinate all day in the fridge. It was very easy to butterfly, the only challenge was trying to get all the lamb in to a ziploc bag.
The Dinner Kit also came with what I thought was an absurd amount of green onions, to be grilled and served with the lamb. The onions get tossed with oil, salt and pepper and then grilled (or broiled). The funny thing with onions though is that they cook down… a lot. I had to cook the 4 bunches of onions in 3 batches and they ended up yielding a couple onions per diner. I made them ahead of time, along with a batch of herbed and roasted potatoes. We reheated everything downstairs while the lamb cooked upstairs. The green onions were delicious, they had a slight char but a sweet flavor from the roasting. They would be a great addition to any meat you are grilling or broiling and worked particularly well with the lamb. Natalie also put together an Asian slaw that had red cabbage and apples. Its brightness and crispness provided a great contrast.
Since the marinade for the lamb had ginger in it we made some cocktails which had ginger in them. Matt made a bourbon based one with ginger which he put through their juice along with a dash of orange bitters. I made a slushie drink that had a frozen lemon, ginger and mint simple syrup which was blended and frozen ahead of time. Everyone came over around 7pm and we started by sampling the drinks. Meanwhile, I started the lamb going upstairs under the broiler. One of the benefits of butterflying lamb, is that it cooks much faster. The only drawback is that it means it can get overcooked more quickly if you are not watching… perhaps because you are enjoying drinks downstairs. Even with my inattentiveness, the lamb ended up being medium-well instead of medium. Since the butterflying leaves some portions thicker than others, you end with different amounts of doneness. This is good because not everyone like the same The smaller portions were a little overcooked, but the larger portions were just right.
Another valuable lesson for cooking large portions of meat for lots of people: always prepare a sauce. A little bit of sauce can cure almost any amount of overcooking. Since the marinade was little Asiany and because I had a ton of Shiso growing in our garden, I made a pesto out of it. The flavor of the shiso pesto and acidity from the lime juice into worked great with the lamb and give a nice little flavor boost.
Of course what dinner would be complete without a little dessert?! Carolyn made a fruit salad that continued the ginger theme with a ginger syrup. We served it on pound cake, topped with toasted coconut and a side of vanilla ice cream.
While the thought of cooking a large portion of meat or hosting a dinner for 10 seems a little daunting, both are pretty easy, especially with a little teamwork.
Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb
- 1/3 cup Low-Sodium Soy Sauce or Tamari
- 1â„4 cup Honey
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 3 to 4 Anaheim Chilies, thinly sliced (ribs and seeds removed for less heat)
- 1 (5 to 7 pound) boneless butterflied leg of lamb (see directions below)
- Canola oil
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 4 bunches, green onions
- Salt and pepper
- Whisk soy sauce, honey, ground ginger and chilies in small bowl, transfer to large plastic zip top bag. Add lamb, close bad and rub marinade into lamb. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, but up to 8 or even overnight if time allows.
- Remove lamb from marinade and set on tray.
- On a gas grill, turn all burners to high, close lid and heat until hot, about 15 minutes. Scrape grates clean and brush with oil. Grill lamb, fat side down, 25 to 35 minutes total, turning half-way through cooking, depending on desired doneness, about 145 degrees for medium rare and 160 degrees for medium.*
- Remove from grill and loosely cover with foil, let rest about 15 minutes and thinly slice. While lamb is resting, toss green onions in 1 teaspoon olive oil, season with salt and pepper and grill, turning occasionally, until charred, about 3 minutes.
Serve with charred green onions, sautÃ©ed sugar snap peas and steamed brown rice.
Alternate Broiler Method: Position oven rack 4 inches from broiler element. Broil the meat until it is nicely browned, even a little charred, on both sides, about 20 to 30 minutes, and the internal temperature at the thickest part is about 125Â°F; this will give you some lamb that is quite rare, as well as some that is nearly well done. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing thinly, as you would a thick steak.
Icy Lemon-Ginger Vodka Cocktails
From: Food & Wine
- One 3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice (roughly 6 lemons)
- 8 cups crushed ice
- 2 cups vodka
- 8 mint sprigs, for garnish
- In a small saucepan, combine the sliced ginger with the water and sugar and bring to a simmer over moderate heat. Simmer for 5 minutes, then let the ginger syrup cool slightly. Transfer to a blender and puree. Strain the syrup into a large, shallow glass dish. Stir in the lemon zest and juice. Cover and freeze the lemon-ginger syrup until firm, at least 4 hours.
- Let the frozen lemon-ginger mixture stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. Chop the mixture into large pieces. Put half of the pieces in a blender, add 4 cups of crushed ice and 1 cup of vodka and blend until slushy. Pour the vodka cocktail into 4 glasses, garnish each with a mint sprig and serve. Repeat with the remaining frozen lemon mixture, ice, vodka and mint sprigs.
- Serve at once.
Make Ahead: The lemon-ginger mixture can be frozen for up to 1 week.
Notes: Peel the ginger’s thin and delicate skin by scraping down the root with a metal teaspoon. A spoon maneuvers around the nubs more easily than a pairing knife.
Note: I just guestimated when I made and had to quadruple it since I had lots of shiso
- 2 ounces green shiso leaves (japanese perilla)
- 1 ounce chopped walnuts
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt (halve if using regular salt)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lime juice (from 1/2 a lime)
- Put the shiso, salt, olive oil, and lime juice, in a blender or the work-bowl of a food processor and whirl it around until itâ€™s a fine green puree.
- Add the walnuts and process until it is chunky.