Posts Tagged ‘lamb’

So as you may or may not have noticed, I’ve haven’t really written anything in over a month now. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to; Writing has always given me a good way to de-stress and get my ideas out on the page when my brain works faster than I’d like it to. Work has just gotten super busy lately, and pretty much all of my free time has been taking up just trying to recuperate. On the plus side, being busy at work is something I really enjoy, and not something I’ve had since moving from the Burlington area last fall, so it’s nice to have that rush of adrenaline back into my daily routine. But I’ve been kicking myself for not keeping up with getting things written. I’ve still been plugging away at Reddit’s 52 Weeks of Cooking Challenge and if you’ve been following along on Instagram or Facebook, I’ve had some fun working up some recipes with Berries, Garlic, and Vanilla, as well as some Dim Sum and Charcuterie.

This week was an especially fun theme for the challenge: Inspired by Magic. This year we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the release of Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone in the UK, and on Monday the Boy Who Lived celebrated his 37th birthday. Growing up, I was immediately enthralled by the series. Vast, fantastic landscapes and settings, deep character development, and the exploration of ideas and lessons that still resonate to this day. I want to get a big, non-food-related piece written for the US 20th anniversary next year, but that’s still quite a way away.

The wizarding world is full of amazing foods; Pumpkin Pasties, Cauldron Cakes, Treacle Tarts, chocolates, candies, you name it. I’ve never had a super strong arsenal of dessert recipes, but in the past year or two I’ve definitely made some leaps and bounds. While desserts would have been a fairly easy route to go, I dug deep for a cool recipe that would kind of push my boundaries in a different direction.

The morning of Halloween, 1492, Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington was set to be executed, having attempted to cast a tooth-straightening spell on an assistant of King Henvry VII the previous evening. After 47 hacks into his neck with a blunt axe, Sir Nicholas’ head was left dangling from his body by no more than an inch of flesh. Returning as a ghost, “Nearly-Headless” Nick took up residence as the ghost of Gryffindor Tower at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry.

To commemorate his 500th Deathday, Sir Nicholas held a party and feast in “one of the roomier dungeons” at Hogwarts, inviting the main trio of Harry, Ron, and Hermione, as well as a host of notable deceased: the Bloody Baron, the Fat Friar, the Grey Lady, the Wailing Widow, Peeves and Moaning Myrtle. It would go without saying that ghosts can’t eat or taste food, so the menu consisted of food smelling so foul they could almost taste it: Moldy bread, stinking salmon, fungus-covered peanuts, and the pièce de résistance, Maggoty Haggis.


Haggis is one of those dishes that, whether or not you’ve eaten it, you’d probably assume is super disgusting. It kind of has that reputation of being a bunch of gross things (organ meats) stuffed into an even grosser thing (stomach) and cooked for a thousand years. I was lucky enough to get a bunch of offal from Howvale Farm, so I figured it was time to finally try this out for myself.

When it comes down to it, haggis is largely similar to black pudding: a loosely bound meat sausage with oats. I took lamb heart, liver and tongue and simmered them in a bit of beef stock until tender, then ground it together with some onion and spices. Oats and the cooking liquid bring it together into a workable dough (I don’t know if that’s the word I mean). Not having a stomach to stuff the mixture into, I baked it off like a meatloaf until browned and crispy.

Admittedly, I was certain that this was going to be as gross as it’s always made out to be. But one bite in and I was singing a different tune. Super savory, fatty, and delicious; Imagine if your favorite meatloaf had a baby with leftover Thanksgiving stuffing. As far as the “maggoty” aspect goes, I had a package of barbecue-seasoned larva that I got for Christmas, which provided a nice salty crunch. Now that I know how great this dish itself is, I think I’m going to start looking for a stomach to try it again.

makes 1 loaf

  • Liver*, 8 ounces
  • Heart*, 8 ounces
  • Tongue*, 8 ounces
  • Beef Stock, 2 quarts
  • Vidalia Onion, 4 each
  • Pork Lard or Beef Suet, 8 ounces, diced
  • Rolled Oats (not instant), 8 ounces
  • Sage, dried, 1 tablespoon
  • Allspice, ground, 2 tablespoons
  • Coriander, ground, 2 teaspoons
  • Kosher Salt & ground Black Pepper, to taste
  • Maggots, to garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 425F. In a medium-sized pot, combine heart, liver, tongue, 1 chopped onion and beef stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until tender. Remove meat from stock. Roughly chop heat and liver. Remove membrane from tongue and roughly chop. Process meat, 3 chopped onions and fat through medium die of a meat grinder**. Add oats and spices to meat mixture, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Add enough cooking liquid to the mixture to form a workable dough. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly grease. Transfer meat mixture to baking sheet and form into a tight loaf. Bake at 425F 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before slicing and serving.

*Organ meats from any animal can be used, but you want about 1.5lb total
**If you don’t have a meat grinder, you can also coarsly grind using a food processor



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I’m honestly surprised that I’ve managed to keep up with 3 full of posting. I tried pretty hard last year, to VERY little success, but I’m super glad to be cooking and writing again! The theme for the 3rd week of Reddit’s 52 Weeks of Cooking Challenge is Greek Cuisine, something I’ve never really explored much. But, as always, I was excited to try a recipe I had never eaten before (let alone even made)

Traditional Greek cuisine relied more heavily on what was known as the “Mediterranean Triad”: wheat, olive oil, and wine. Honey, seen as a food of the gods, was also widely used, as well as a wealth of spices due to Greece’s influence as a major trading port. However, what we know today as Greek cuisine, and much of Mediterranean cuisine in general, was influenced by Nikolaos Tselementes, an early 20th century Greek chef and food writer. Raised in Athens, Tselements studied cooking in Vienna before moving to America to work in French-influenced luxury hotels and restaurants, while continuing to study food and cookery. In 1920 he published his Cooking and Patisserie Guide, and in 1932 opened his own cooking academy which spread his version of Greek  cuisine to the masses. This new style was widely hailed by the people of Greece, while some traditionalists found it to be a bastardization of their heritage.


A dish that carries elements of both the traditional and modern eras of Greek cuisine – heavy savory spices and lamb from the Turkish and Ottoman, and rich Bechamel sauce from Tselementes’ French roots – Moussaka is akin to a Mediterranean Shepherd’s Pie; Layers of vegetables, meat sauce and a creamy topping. I’ve talked a few times on here about how putting a lot of time into something normally yields a really great dish. Moussaka is definitely one of those dishes: lots of ingredients and loa big commitment of time, but ultimately greater than the sum of its parts, and perfect for the frigid weather that has seeped into the North in the past few weeks.

Moussaka, adapted from Saveur

  • Tomato, 1 28oz can
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil*, 4 tablespoons
  • Ground Lamb, 1 pound
  • Cayenne, 1 teaspoon
  • Cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Fresh ginger, minced, 1/4 teaspoon
  • Allspice, 1/4 teaspoon
  • Kosher Salt and Black Pepper, to taste
  • Garlic, minced, 6 cloves
  • Onion, finely diced, 2 each
  • Red Bell Pepper, seeded, finely diced, 1 each
  • Red Wine**, 1 cup
  • Canola Oil, for frying, as needed
  • Eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds, 1 each
  • Yukon Gold Potato, cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds, 2 each (about 1 pound)
  • Butter, unsalted, 6 tablespoons
  • All-Purpose Flour, 1/2 cup
  • Whole Milk, 2 1/4 cups
  • Bay Leaf, 1 each
  • Nutmeg, to taste
  • Greek Yogurt, full fat, unflavored, 1/2 cup
  • Egg Yolk, 3 each
  • Parmesan Cheese***, grated, 1 cup

Purée the tomatoes in a blender and set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the lamb, cayenne, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and salt and pepper and cook, stirring to break up the meat, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer lamb to a large strainer and drain.

Return pot to the heat and add the remaining olive oil along with the garlic, onions, and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost evaporated, 10-15 minutes.

Add the reserved tomatoes and lamb and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and set meat sauce aside.

Heat the canola oil in 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the eggplant slices and fry, turning occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer eggplant slices to paper towels. Working in batches, add the potatoes and cook until tender, about 5 minutes, and transfer to paper towels.

Melt butter in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until pale and smooth, 2 minutes. Whisking constantly, add the milk in a steady stream until incorporated; add the bay leaf and cook, whisking often, until reduced to 2 cups, about 15 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg and discard the bay leaf. Let sauce cool for completely. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt and egg yolks and whisk into sauce until smooth.

To Assemble: Heat oven to 400°. Place the reserved potato slices in the bottom of an oval 3-qt. baking dish (or two 1 1⁄2-qt. baking dishes) and season with salt and pepper. Put the eggplant slices on top, season with salt and pepper, and then cover with the meat sauce. Pour the béchamel over the top of the meat sauce and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle parmesan evenly over the top and bake until browned and bubbly, 45–50 minutes. Let cool for at least 20 minutes before serving

*Extra Virgin is the traditional cooking oil in most of Greek cuisine, but the flavor can be too strong for some people. Feel free to substitute Virgin Olive Oil or even canola.

**Whatever type of red wine you prefer, so long as it isn’t labeled “cooking wine”.

***Under no circumstances should you use that plastic jar of parmesan that’s sat in your fridge or pantry for the last six months. Just. Don’t. Do It.

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Turkish cuisine is one of those areas that I’m really at a complete and total lack of exposure. Reasonably enough, there isn’t a huge Turkish population in northern Vermont, but even through culinary school and travel, it seems like Turkish cuisine hasn’t hit the mainstream the way that other lesser-known food cultures have in recent years. In it’s most traditional forms, Turkish cuisine harkens back to the Ottomans, specifically to Istanbul, the political and cultural capital of the empire. A large importance was placed on “new world” foods such as corn, potatoes and tomato, in order to show their economical prowess and wealth. In the modern era of Turkish cuisine, however, influences can be found from Central Asia, the Mediterranean, and even Northern Africa. Spices are not as heavy in use, and the use of native products such as fish, eggplant and grape leaves are more prevalent.  We’re almost to the halfway point in this year’s 52 Weeks of Cooking Challenge, and it’s time to celebrate Turkey!

Literally translating as “The Sultan’s Delight” or “The Sultan Liked It”, Hünkar Beğendi is a traditional Turkish dish reminiscent of the High Imperial style. The dish came about during the reign of Sultan Murad IV, but the exact origins of the dish are a bit fuzzy. Clearly, the most reasonable explanation was that it was prepared by the palace cooks and the Sultan liked it. An alternate story suggests that it was prepared by commoners who let the Sultan stay with them on his way back from a hunting trip. Hünkar Beğendi is a fusion of traditional Turkish ingredients like lamb and eggplant, but served with the new-world flair the Ottomans were accustomed to, stewing the lamb with chilies and tomatoes.


Traditionally, the lamb and vegetables are stewed together until tender and the meat is falling apart, like most meat and vegetable stews. Lately, though, I haven’t been able to help myself and I’m cooking too many things sous vide. For my Hünkar Beğendi, I based the recipe off of Modernist Cooking At Home’s Sous Vide Beef Stew and adjusted the ingredients to fit the more traditional preparation. Lamb stew meat was vacuum sealed with some beef fat and cooked at 140F for 48 hours, yielding ultra-tender meat and delicious lamb juice. For the veggies, onions, chilies, and tomatoes were sealed with stock, tomato paste, butter, salt and pepper, and cooked at 180F for about 45 minutes. After they were finished cooking, I drained the liquid and combined it with the lamb juice, then thickened with .38% by weight of Xanthan Gum. After it’s all combined, it would be hard to differentiate between this method and a traditionally prepared stew, but it was a nice experiment to try out.  I served mine over roasted eggplant puree, but this would go great with rice, bulgur, or even couscous. Any culture can lay claim to a meat-and-vegetable stew, so this dish can be familiar to almost anyone, while still being exotic enough to excite the palate.

Hünkar Beğendi

makes about 1 quart

  • Lamb Stew Meat, 1lb
  • Beef Fat*, 3oz
  • Onion, small diced, 1 each
  • Anaheim Chili  or Green Bell Pepper, seeded, small diced, 1 each
  • Plum tomato, cored, diced, 2 each
  • Tomato Paste, 2 tablespoons
  • Butter, 3 tablespoons
  • Beef Stock, 1 1/2 cup
  • Xanthan Gum*, as needed

Traditional Method:

In a large soup pot, sear lamb meat until deep brown. Remove from pot and reserve. Add onion, chili, tomato, tomato paste and butter to the pot and cook until lightly browned. Return meat to pot and add stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until meat is tender, about 1 hour. Serve hot.

*Sous-Vide Method:

Vacuum seal meat and beef fat. Cook in a 140F water bath for 48 hours. Remove from water bath and empty bag, discarding fat and reserving meat and juice separately. Freeze beef stock in a freezer-safe container. Vacuum seal onion, chili, tomato, tomato paste, butter and stock. Cook vegetables in a 180F water bath for 45 minutes. Empty bag, reserving vegetables and liquid separately. Combine meat juice and vegetable liquid and weigh. Measure out .38% xanthan gum by weight of the liquid. Combine xanthan gum and liquid and blend until thickened. Combine meat, vegetables and sauce and reheat as needed. Serve hot.

Eggplant Puree

makes about 2 cups

  • Eggplant, 2lbs
  • Olive Oil, as needed
  • Salt, as needed
  • Black Pepper, as needed
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • Pecorino Cheese**, as needed

Preheat oven to 500F. Peel and dice eggplant. Toss eggplant with oil, salt and pepper and roast until browned, about 15 minutes. In a food processor, puree eggplant until smooth. Season with lemon juice, salt, pepper, and cheese. Serve warm.

**Kashkaval Cheese is a Turkish hard cheese, similar to parmesan or pecorino. If you can’t find Kashkaval, pecorino works as a great substitute.

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St. Patrick’s Day is coming around again, folks! Time for people to wear obnoxious green clothing and pretend to be and/or care about being Irish as an excuse to get wasted on Guinness and Jameson. And of course you can’t forget about corned beef and cabbage and potatoes and all the other “traditional” Irish foods out there. To celebrate the coming holiday, Week 11 of Reddit’s 52 Weeks of Cooking Challenge has been devoted to Irish cuisine.

Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd’s Pie is one of the more common dishes found in traditional Irish cooking. Cheaper and less labor-intensive to raise than beef, many farmers chose to raise sheep as livestock. Shepherd’s Pie was probably invented sometime in the 18th Century by peasant housewives looking for creative ways to serve leftover meat to their families. It is generally agreed that it originated in the north of England and Scotland, then made its way to Ireland. Being among the most well-known English chefs, Gordon Ramsay has a great recipe for a traditional shepherd’s pie featured on his show The F Word. I’ve never made shepherd’s pie with lamb before, so I was excited to try this recipe out. The lamb provides a much richer flavor than beef and quite a bit more fat, keeping the filling moist while cooking in the oven. Hands-down, this was the best shepherd’s pie I’ve ever had. The combination of herbs and seasonings in the filling really make it unique, and the egg yolks in the mashed potato make them incredibly rich.

Shepherd’s Pie from Gordon Ramsay’s The F Word

  • Olive Oil, 2 teaspoons
  • Ground Lamb, about 1.5 lb
  • Onion, grated, 1 each
  • Carot, large, grated, 1 each
  • Garlic, minced, 2cloves
  • Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons
  • Tomato Paste, 1 tablespoon
  • Thyme, fresh, picked, 2 sprigs
  • Rosemary, fresh, picked and minced, 1 sprig
  • Red Wine, 1/2 cup
  • Chicken Stock, 1/2 cup
  • Russet Potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks, about 1.5 lb
  • Cream, 3/4 cup
  • Egg Yolks, 2 each
  • Parmesan, for grating
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black Pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a large pan until hot. Season the lamb and cook  over medium to high heat for 2-3 minutes. Stir the onions and carrot into the lamb, then add the garlic.. Add the Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and herbs and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour in the red wine and reduce until almost completely evaporated. Add the chicken stock, bring to the boil and simmer until the sauce has thickened. Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in boiling salted water until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain then return to the hot pan over low heat to dry out briefly. Pass them through a potato ricer then beat in the egg yolks, followed by about 2 tbsp grated Parmesan. Spoon the lamb into the bottom of a large ovenproof dish. Using a large spoon, layer the mashed potato generously on top, starting from the outside and working your way into the middle. Grate some extra Parmesan over and season. Fluff up the potatoes with a fork to make rough peaks. Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, until bubbling and golden brown.

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Afiyet Olsun!

Today marks the second installment of Reddit’s 52 Weeks of Cooking challenge. The theme this week: Mint. Thinking on mint as an ingredient, I knew that I didn’t want to go the traditional route of sweets and desserts. I did some research into the history and traditional usages of mint, and found that it was quite commonly used in many Turkish dishes.

ImageLahmacun literally means dough with meat in Turkish. It is a traditional Turkish style flatbread topped with ground lamb seasoned with mint and chilies. The dough is fairly similar to a traditional pizza dough, so that wasn’t too hard to get done. The lamb, however, was quite interesting. I had never made a pizza or flatbread topping like this, so I was interested to see how it turned out. I mixed the lamb with diced tomatoes, jalapeno, mint, parsley and chili paste. This mixture was then spread right on the dough without cooking either first. The result was fantastic. The dough was tender and crispy while the meat stayed juicy and flavorful. I think in my next attempt at this recipe I would add some sort of sauce to hold the topping in place. Maybe some kind of mint pesto, that would probably give it a lot more of the flavor that I was looking for.

To go with tonight’s dinner, I made a traditional Turkish mint and lemon tea.


Nane Limon almost couldn’t be simpler to make. Sugar, lemon juice and mint a mixed in a glass and topped with boiling water. Not too sweet, not too sour, and just a hint of minty-ness, this drink was a great way to finish off the meal.

Again, if you’re a Redditor upvotes are always appreciated.


makes 1 flatbread


  • 3/4 teaspoon dried yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Olive oil for bowl & brushing dough


  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces ground lamb or chuck
  • 1 tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kirmizi biber, chili paste, or combination sweet paprika and cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Combine the yeast and sugar with a little of the warm water, and set aside until mixture is frothy. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl, and make a well in the center. Add the yeast mixture, along with the remaining warm water. Using your hands, work the mixture into a dough, adding more water if necessary. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until pliable and springy, about 5 minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl, turning to coat, cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Punch down risen dough and knead on a lightly floured surface. Roll into a log and cut into 2 to 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, place on floured surface and let rest 30 minutes under a towel.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F, and preheat baking sheets, tiles, or a baking stone.

Prepare the filling: Melt the butter in a skillet, add the onion and saute until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute another minute. Transfer onion mixture to a large bowl, add remaining ingredients, and mix thoroughly with your fingertips. If mixture seems too dry, add a teaspoon of water.

Place a ball of dough on a floured surface and roll into a round, flat circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Place the round on the oiled, preheated baking sheets or tiles. Brush the top with olive oil and spread with a thin, even layer of the meat filling, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. The dough should still be soft enough to roll up.

Squeeze a little lemon juice over each of the hot lahmacuns, and serve immediately either flat or rolled up into cones.

Nane Limon

makes about 3 glasses

  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Sugar, 3 tablespoons
  • Mint, 3 sprigs
  • Boiling Water, 3 cups

Combine all ingredients in a heatproof glass. Drink warm

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