My mom loves lamb and it’s tradition to always have it for Easter. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know my sister and I were quite the picky eaters as kids. What you may not know is that even my father had his ‘picky eater’ moments as well. He claimed he couldn’t eat lamb if it smelled too much like sheep! Now, you may say that’s a typical made up picky eater comment, but there is some truth behind his statement. If you’ve had lamb multiple times, you may have noticed that there is indeed a difference in smell when cooked. I’ve come to associate the ‘sheep smell’ with older lambs (maybe sheep by that point) or old/low quality meat and I’m usually skeptical about buying lamb at the supermarket. However, I wanted something different for New Year’s and Trader Joe’s (I know, I know, this blog sounds more and more like a TJs add, but I swear they don’t pay me…hmm, maybe I should ask to be paid :-) ) promised ‘happy’ lamb meat on his packages. I obviously have no idea how happy these lambs were, but the package claimed they were grass fed, antibiotic free, and free range so it sounded like a good lamb life. For the NYE dinner, I bought the lamb chops, but since I still had my doubts about the success of the meal, I did not end up taking pictures for the blog. However, the lamb was so tasty (definitely a happy lamb) that I decided to make a repeat meal using the lamb leg steak cut this time so I can share the recipe with you ;-)
For some reason, I strongly associate lamb with rosemary and red wine. I know over the years, wine pairings are not as black and white (or red and white to be more precise) as they once were, and you may be able to find a nice white wine that pairs perfectly with lamb, but I can’t stop these visions of lamb, red wine, and rosemary. As a consequence, I decided to use rosemary and thyme for a rub and red wine for a risotto. I’ve definitely overcome my fear of risotto and it’s actually not that hard to make at all. I know, it’s quite shocking given how much Gordon Ramsay screams about the risottos on Hell’s Kitchen :-)
Recipe notes: this can be used with different cuts of lamb. The recipe makes more than 2 normal servings of risotto and the leftovers can be reheated in a microwave.
Ingredients (serves 2):
- 1 big lamb leg steak (or 4 chops)
- 1-2 Tb chopped rosemary
- 1-2 Tb chopped thyme
- 1 big garlic clove, chopped
- salt, pepper
- olive oil
- 1 Tb butter
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1/2 cup wine (I used pinot noir)
- 3 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 2 -4 Tb parmesan cheese
Chop the herbs and garlic. Rub lamb with olive oil, salt, pepper, and the herb mixture on both sides. Let marinate about 30 minutes in the fridge.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Meanwhile, start your risotto. Heat up stock to a simmer. Melt butter over medium high heat in a large skillet. Saute onions and mushrooms until soft (5 min).
Add the arborio rice and saute until translucent around the edges (~ 5 min). Add wine and cook it off stirring frequently.
Add stock 1/2 cup at a time and keep stirring! Wait until stock is completely adsorbed before adding more.
Continue adding stock until the rice is cooked through, but still has a bite (no mushy rice!). This should take ~ 20 minutes. Add parmesan cheese. Adjust salt and season with some freshly ground pepper.
If you can multi-task, start lamb when risotto is about 15 minutes from being done. Heat oil in an oven proof skillet over medium-high heat. Sear lamb 2-3 minutes per side.
Place lamb in the oven and cook for 5-10 minutes depending on the thickness. I recommend checking the temperature about 5 minutes in. If it reads 135-145F, it’s time to remove it from the pan and let it rest ~ 5 minutes. If temperature is lower, flip lamb and return to oven for a few more minutes. This is for my preferred medium-rare/medium, but for well-done you want a temperature above 160F according to the internet.
Cut lamb steak in half and serve with risotto and a nice glass of red wine for a delicious homemade dinner ;-)
Have a great weekend everyone!