Sunday, June 15, 2014

Lamb, Low and Slow

Seasoned, but not cooked yet
My favorite red meat is lamb, so for our Memorial Day block party I bought a gorgeous six-pound bone-in shoulder from Border Springs at the Reading Terminl Market and treated it has I would pulled pork, only with Greek seasonings rather than as barbecue.

Just like pork, low-and-slow is the way to go. I set my oven on 200F (using a seperate oven thermometer to insure the right level of heat, since different ovens may or may nor be able to keep a steady temp when set so low). The meat went into the oven in a covered earthenware pot at 11 p.m., and I next checked it at 8 a.m. It was perfectly done. (As I recall, my instant meat thermometer read 190F; lamb shoulder, like some cuts of pork, is actually better medium-to-medium-well than medium-rare, and is quite forgiving even when well-done, so long as it's not incinerated.) After a rest to cool and set the juices I hand-shredded the meat. Served with pita bread and homemade tzaziki, since cucumbers and mint are in season.

The long, slow-cooking allows much of the fat to drain away, but enough fat and collagen remain to keep it moist and tender.

The leftovers went into meal-sized containers for freezing. Once thawed, it's easy enough to reheat by tossing around in a skillet (non-stick works) for a few minutes. Last night I cooked some sweet frying peppers in the pan before adding the meat. And even after a quick three or four-minute sauté the lamb remained juicy.

For the slow roast, I used one of my go-to braising pots, the Black Chamba lidded roaster from Colombia shown at left. The lid is not tight fitting -- intentionally, so the steam can escape and not drown whatever you're cooking. I purchased mine a few years ago from the Santa Fe Cooking School store website where the 10" x 17" version is available for $115, but there are plenty of other on-line shops for this great roaster/braising pot, which I've also used on my gas stovetop. It's also easy to clean with just hot water, no soap. If you've got to scrub a bit, hot water and paper towels work just fine with a minimum of elbow grease.

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