I recently had the pleasure of enjoying a 3-day weekend with absolutely no to-do list. It was marvelous, the sort of perfect weekend that you dream of, but rarely get to experience without something getting in the way. It all started with a nice, lazy, drizzly day. There was coffee with a friend, some errands, lunch at a great new sandwich shop, and then periods of relaxation and doggy-snuggling punctuated by just the right amount house-cleaning to leave me feeling, at the end of the day, that I had managed to perfectly balance being productive and lazy. And, just when the weather began to look like roasting season was its end, we got a perfect chilly and wet evening for turning on the oven one last time. We roasted a beautiful piece of lamb, all dressed up in herbs and garlic, and smeared the most delightful blackberry-Malbec sauce on each bite. We whipped parsnips with the tiniest amount of clove and nutmeg, just enough to elevate them to "fancy." And at the end of the night, we felt lucky, happy, full, and pretty psyched that it was still only Friday....
This is one of those meals that seems really elaborate, but the blackberry sauce is the only things that requires more than dish. Overall, it shouldn't take you more than 2 hours from start from finish- you make the sides and the sauce while the lamb roasts, and still have time to let a Cabernet breathe and the dogs get their paws muddy.
You can use any cut you'd like, but we had a piece of lamb shank. The cooking time will depend entirely on the size of your lamb and what temperature you like. To get medium-rare, pull the meat out when the thickest part is 130F. Ours was 160F and rising, and as you can see, there was no pink left. However, despite it being done much more well than we'd have liked, it was still tender and tasty.
What I love about using parsnips instead of potatoes here is that parsnips have more texture to them. If you don't boil them to complete mush, the whipped parsnips will have a few little still-firm bites. The spices go perfectly with the slightly sweet parsnips, and really warm up the meal. If you don't have clove or nutmeg, try a little cinnamon, or garam masala.
This recipe should serve 4, but there won't be enough for leftovers or seconds... so as far as the DEB kitchen is concerned, this serves 2! And by the way, it went great with some green beans and my first ever full viewing of an Arnold classic.
1-1.5 lb lamb (a little more if you have a bone in there)
handful each of parsley, rosemary, thyme
half a handful of sage
3 cloves garlic
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400F. Chop the herbs and garlic and mix with several tbsp of olive oil, just enough to make a paste, then add salt and pepper. Rub the paste all over the lamb, place on a roasting rack and put into the oven. Roast for 30 minutes, then check to make sure the crust isn't burning. If so, turn the oven down to 350F. Check again every 30 minutes until the lamb is at the temperature you'd like.
1 pint blackberries
1/2 bottle Malbec
3 tbsp. good balsamic vinegar (we used the cinnamon-pear variety)
salt and sugar
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat and cook until reduced by more than half. Taste for sweetness- if the blackberries were very sweet, you may not need any sugar, but if they were tart, a few teaspoons of sugar will be necessary. Add a pinch or two of salt, then transfer to a food processor or blender and puree. Strain through a mesh colander (only necessary if you don't want seeds) and serve.
4 large parsnips
2 tbsp butter
2-4 tbsp cream
Set a medium-sized pot of water to boil. Meanwhile, peel the parnsips and chop into roughly 1-inch cubes. Boil for about 20-30 minutes, until fork-tender. Drain and return to the pot. Add the butter, cream, and spices, as well as a couple pinches of salt. Using a mixer or stick blender, cream the parsnips. A mixer will give airier results, which is what I'd recommend. Taste for seasonings, and add more spices or salt as needed.