By Stuart J. Faber
Pilots hear it all the time – folks who tell them that they are afraid of little airplanes – “I won’t go up in one of those Piper Cubs.”
Isn’t it strange that many folks unfamiliar with general aviation seem to stereotype and group together all small aircraft from J-3 Cubs to TBMs as Piper Cubs? I don’t take it as an insult. I performed a substantial amount of my primary flight training in a Piper Cub. Six decades later, I still have a love affair with that airplane.
In most areas of life, I have an aversion to stereotyping. Not only does the practice affect the stereotyped entity, it often prevents the “stereotyper” from broadening his or her horizons. Imagine how much fun, excitement, and exhilaration a person could have as a first-time passenger in a Piper Cub-with the window open, flying at a speed of 50 mph over peaceful farmland, hedgehopping over stands of trees or circling over a clear blue lake.
Another group of stereotypers are folks who hate lamb. “It’s too gamey,” they moan. I’ve lost count of the number of people who have expressed their disdain for lamb. However, I can assert without exception, that the folks I’ve invited over and implored to give the lamb a try have been turned into ardent converts by the time dessert is served.
Much of the lamb we consume comes from Australia or New Zealand. American lamb is primarily raised in Colorado. Domestic lamb is more expensive and admittedly tastier. Costco sells Australian racks of lamb, which are half the price of American racks. They are chock full of tender meat. I use them all of the time.
Here are a few examples of lamb dishes from my upcoming cookbook, which are not only easy to make, they will wow your family and friends.
Rack of Lamb with Mustard-Thyme Crust
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs (I use a stale slice of bread or a French roll)
1/4 cup coarse grain Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1¼ pound rack of lamb, well trimmed
Additional olive oil and mustard
Place one slice of stale white bread or a French roll in a food processor. Pulse to coarse crumbs. Remove and set aside.
Combine mustard, garlic, thyme, rosemary, parsley, oregano, and olive oil in the food processor. Mix well until a thick paste is formed. In the meantime, heat a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, over high heat for at least 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
With an additional tablespoon of olive oil, rub all sides of the rack with oil and generously apply salt and pepper. Place rack in the hot skillet and sear all sides until mahogany brown, and a crust forms. Remove lamb from skillet and place on baking sheet – or leave in the skillet.
Combine the reserved breadcrumbs with the mustard mixture. Brush lamb all over with additional mustard to make the glue. Pat crumb-mustard mixture over meaty sides of rack.
Place lamb on a baking sheet or in pan, rounded side up, bone side down. Roast lamb until thermometer inserted into center registers 125°F for rare, about 20 minutes; 130°about 25 minutes for medium rare. Remove lamb from the oven and let rest on baking sheet or pan for 10 minutes. Carve into individual chops. It serves two.
Lamb shanks are succulent and delicious. Cooking them requires some waiting time but very little skill.
Fabe’s Succulent, Luscious Braised Lamb Shanks with White Beans
Lamb Shanks White Beans
4 meaty lamb shanks (approx. 1 lb each) 1 1/2 cups dried Great Northern
2 Tbsp olive oil or Cannellini beans
1 medium onion, chopped 4 strips bacon
1 medium carrot, chopped 1 medium onion, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped 1 carrot chopped
8 garlic cloves, chopped
2 flat anchovies, chopped 1 celery rib, chopped
1/2 bottle dry red wine 3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups chicken broth 1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons tomato paste 2 cups chicken broth
1- 16 oz. can chopped tomatoes 4 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
2 fresh thyme sprigs 2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon dried oregano
4 fresh rosemary leaves
1 bay leaf
kosher salt and pepper
FOR THE LAMB: Pat lamb shanks dry and season with salt, pepper, and oregano. In an eight-quart heavy bottomed Dutch oven, heat olive oil over moderately high heat. In batches, brown shanks on all sides. Remove and set aside.
Place onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and anchovies in the pot; season with salt and pepper and sauté until softened. Add wine and simmer until reduced to about two cups. Add the broth, tomato paste, tomatoes, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, and shanks. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, turning lamb shanks occasionally for one and a half hours. Add rosemary and simmer mixture one hour more, uncovered or until lamb is very tender and falling off the bone. Cook uncovered to reduce and thicken the sauce, about 10 minutes.
FOR THE BEANS: Soak the beans the night before. The next day, place the beans in a stockpot and add enough water so that the level is three inches above the beans. Bring to a boil and cook until almost tender-about one to one and a half hours. Do not add salt.
Cook bacon in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium high heat until just browned. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic stirring four to five minutes or until softened––do not brown. Add beans and one-cup broth over medium heat, stirring occasionally and adding enough remaining broth to keep beans moist so that they reach a creamy but not mushy consistency, about 30 minutes. Season with pepper, thyme, and oregano. Add salt just before serving. Keep warm.
ASSEMBLY: When the lamb shanks are very tender, add the beans to the Dutch oven. Cook for several minutes until the flavors of the lamb and the beans meld. Mix the lemon zest and parsley together. Sprinkle over lamb and beans. Serve immediately.
NOTE: If you desire, the beans can be served separately and not mixed with the lamb sauce.
Stu’s Butterflied Leg of Lamb
1 cup dry red wine
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worchester sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoons fresh crushed rosemary
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon crushed sage
1 teaspoon paprika
kosher salt and pepper
1 fresh lime
1 4-pound butterflied leg of lamb
Most butchers will butterfly the lamb for you. If not, it’s relatively easy to do it yourself. Start with a very sharp chef’s knife or boning knife. By the way, I recently obtained a home sharpener. Prior to this acquisition, I was leery of home sharpeners. Most were difficult to use and did not produce good results. Then, I heard of the Chef’s Choice 15/20 Angle Select. This apparatus has an extremely precise guiding system, so it’s almost impossible to insert the knife incorrectly. The 15/20 handles European/American, Asian, Sports knives, even serrated blades. My knives are now as sharp as they were after I took them to a sharpening shop. I have quite a few knives, so after two sharpening sessions at home, the 15/20 paid for itself. Take a look at www.chefschoice.com.
To butterfly, start by slicing straight down through the center toward the bone. Continue making shallow slices along the length of the meat until you reach the bone. Once you’ve exposed the bone on one side, make slices as close to the bone as you can, freeing the meat bit by bit until the bone can be removed with no residual meat. I leave the bone in for extra flavor.
Next, cut into the meat as if you were unrolling a scroll that was stuck together. As the two halves form, cut so that they are about the same thickness. Before marinating, make slashes in the meat, each about 1/4” deep. For more instruction, watch a video on Martha Stewart.com/butterfly lamb.
Combine wet ingredients except mustard. Pour into a 13x9 baking dish. Soak lamb on both sides. Combine dry ingredients except salt and pepper––this is the rub.
After soaking lamb, rub with mustard. Then rub all over with the spice rub. Marinate in refrigerator for at least four hours. One hour before cooking, remove lamb from fridge and bring to room temperature. Heat your grill to high. If cooking in the oven, heat to 425 degrees.
Just before cooking, apply more rub and more mustard. Rub all over with fresh limejuice. Season with salt and pepper. Place on high heat over grill (or in oven on a baking pan), and brown on both sides. Then, put fat side down and roast for 30-40 minutes until internal temperature reaches 125 degrees. Baste with remaining marinade occasionally. Before removing from grill, add more rub. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.
How about a few sides? Here are recipes, one for a green vegetable, one for carbohydrates. Since we are forcing you to eat lamb, let’s also force you to eat your Brussels sprouts! I guarantee, you will love them.
Sautéed Brussels Sprouts With Gremolta
Brussels sprouts Gremolta
1 pound Brussels sprouts 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
(you can also use asparagus or green beans) 2 tablespoons butter
2 shallots 1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 crushed cloves garlic 1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons butter pinch red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chicken stock
Brussels sprouts: Cut each sprout vertically in half. Finely chop the shallots. In a large, non-stick skillet over medium heat, heat the oil and butter. Place the sprouts in one layer, cut side down. Scatter the shallots and garlic over the Brussels sprouts.
When the sprouts begin to caramelize, turn them over and cook for another five minutes. Add just enough stock to cover the base of the skillet. Cover and allow the sprouts to steam until the liquid has almost evaporated and the sprouts are tender.
Gremolta: Melt the butter in a small skillet. Add breadcrumbs and sauté until they are toasty brown. Add lemon zest, garlic, and pepper flakes. Sauté for one additional minute. Remove from heat. When the sprouts are done, sprinkle the gremolta over the sprouts and serve immediately. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan if desired.
Fabe’s Risotto with Wild Mushrooms, Leeks & Peas
2 leeks, white & green parts sliced thin
1 shallot, chopped
kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, fresh or dried thyme or fresh rosemary
1 cup Arbario or Carnaroli rice
6-8 cups homemade chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 pound fresh wild mushrooms
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Melt one tablespoon olive oil and two tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 of mushrooms and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and thyme, if using. Sauté mushrooms until tender and beginning to brown, three to four minutes. Transfer mushrooms to medium bowl. Working in three more batches, repeat with six tablespoons butter, remaining mushrooms, and salt, pepper, and thyme.
Bring chicken broth to simmer in medium saucepan; keep warm. Melt remaining one and a hlaf tablespoons butter with olive oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add leek and shallot, sprinkle with salt, and sauté until tender, four to five minutes. Add rice and increase heat to medium. Stir until edges of rice begin to look translucent, three to four minutes. It should make a clicking sound. Add white wine and stir until liquid is absorbed, about one minute.
Add ¾-cup warm chicken broth; stir at medium speed until almost all broth is absorbed, about one minute. When rice mixture is just thick enough to leave a clear wake behind the spoon, add another ¾-cup stock.
Continue adding broth by 3/4 cupfuls, stirring at medium speed until almost all the broth is absorbed before adding more.
Continue adding stock 3/4 cup at a time and stirring constantly until rice is mostly translucent but still opaque in the center. Rice should be al dente but not crunchy. As rice nears doneness, watch carefully and add smaller amounts of liquid to make sure it does not overcook. The final mixture should be thick enough that grains of rice are suspended in liquid the consistency of heavy cream. It will thicken slightly when removed from heat. During the last 10 minutes, stir in mushrooms and peas and continue adding stock.
Remove from heat. Stir in butter, heavy cream, Parmesan cheese, and parsley; season with salt, pepper, and thyme. Divide the mixture among four shallow bowls, mounding risotto in the center, and grate or shave additional Parmesan over risotto. Serve immediately.