So elegant, yet so simple, this roasted leg of lamb is truly company-worthy. It originally calls for a 4-pound roast, but we had a 2 1⁄2 pounder on hand, so we used that—though we did not cut back on the anchovy-garlic-herbs mixture which lends it so much umami goodness. Even if you are not an anchovy fan, you’d never know they were in the dish because their flavor just melds so perfectly with the other ingredients. DON’T leave them out.
And the icing on the cake so to speak? The bacon slices overlap each other across the top of the roast which create a beautiful crusty and golden exterior. And because our lamb was smaller in size, it took less strips of bacon to cover it.
Paired with baked sweet potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts, all of which cook at the same 425°F temperature as the lamb—just different lengths of time—everything can be done in just one oven at the same time. Dinner done!
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Place anchovy fillets, garlic and herbs in food processor, and process until finely chopped. With machine running, add olive oil in a thin stream, and process until mixture forms an oily paste. Transfer paste to a small bowl and set aside.
Dry the lamb well with paper towels and open flat on work surface. Sprinkle inside of lamb with salt and pepper and spread paste evenly over it. Roll lamb up tightly. Arrange bacon in overlapping slices on top of lamb, and tie roast as snugly as possible with butcher’s twine.
Heat an oven-proof, 10-12 inch wide skillet over high heat 5 minutes. Sear lamb, bacon side down, until brown, about 4 minutes. Turn lamb with tongs and continue searing until all sides are browned, about 12 minutes total.
Transfer skillet to oven and roast until lamb registers 130 degrees on instant-read meat thermometer, about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove lamb from oven and let rest, covered loosely with foil, at least 10 minutes before slicing.
These braised pork shanks could become an ultimate comfort food for us, with the hybridizing of favorite Asian flavors and techniques. It was hard to fathom how they could have gotten any better than when served, but after a rest overnight in the fridge, just WOW!
Paired with fresh green beans from our garden (that were flash frozen until ready to use), and the decadent Garlic-Miso Butter Mashed Potatoes, we were on Cloud Nine! It is a LOT of ingredients, and will take a large chunk of time, so a slow Sunday afternoon during the chilly months is ideal.
While I tended to spud duty, The Hubs started working his magic on the meat. But first, as he analyzed the recipe, he realized there was WAY too much liquid (mirin, soy, sake, vegetable oil, and chicken stock) and brown sugar for the amount of meat, so all got cut in half. When everything was said and done, we still had a cup of reduced sauce leftover, which we decided would be great for a future stir-fry.
Dredge shanks in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large Dutch oven and sear pork shanks on all sides, working in batches if necessary.
Discard oil from pan and add onion, celery, carrots and ginger. Caramelize on medium high heat, stirring frequently, for about 8 minutes. Add garlic and sauté briefly, about 2 minutes.
Deglaze pan with sake, then add soy sauce and mirin. Bring to a simmer, then stir in brown sugar. Add red pepper flakes, star anise and chicken stock. Let simmer for 5 minutes.
Return shanks to the pot. Cover and cook in a 300 degree oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, turning once halfway through cooking. When shanks are completely tender, remove to platter and tent with foil. Strain liquid into a saucepan pressing on solids to get all of the juices; discard the solids. Return pot to a burner and bring to a boil.
Lower heat to a simmer and reduce until desired thickness. Can thicken broth with a cornstarch slurry if desired. Serve shanks and pass sauce separately.
Spicy Grilled Pork with Fennel, Cumin and Red Onion, just the name gets my juices flowing. Imbued with spices that char at high heat, this aromatic pork recipe is a snap to throw together — exactly what you want for a night of summer grilling.
If using wooden skewers, don’t forget to soak them in water for an hour before grilling, so they don’t flare up. And, NYTimes where we got the recipe, suggested if you’re broiling and you don’t want to bother with skewers at all, just spread the pork cubes out on a rimmed sheet pan, turning them halfway through cooking with tongs or a spatula. Always good to have a Plan B for inclement weather.
Our side dish of Smashed Cucumber Salad with Peanuts, Scallions and Cilantro was just the ticket to compliment the pork and make for a low-carb dinner. The lime and heat in both recipes ensured a unity of tastes. I see making this by itself as a lunch, and would be great to bring to a picnic, potluck or dinner invitation.
While I basically stuck to the pork kebab recipe, I made a few changes in how I handled the cuke salad from Milk Street. Besides cutting the recipe in half, I left the salted cucumber slices in the colander for an hour as opposed to 15 minutes to make sure most of the moisture would be removed. And instead of several cans on the inside plate while draining the slices, I added weight by filling a smaller heavy bowl with water.
A meat mallet came in handy for both smashing the cucumbers and the roasted peanuts, but you may have another preference.
Spicy Grilled Pork with Fennel, Cumin and Red Onion
¼ cup cilantro or basil, leaves and tender stems, plus more for serving
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 jalapeño or other green chile, seeded if desired
1 tsp. honey
1 ½ tablespoons fennel seeds
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
1 Tbsp coriander seeds
1 small red onion, sliced, for serving
Season pork lightly with kosher salt and put it in a bowl or resealable bag.
Juice the lime into a blender or food processor and add cilantro, fish sauce, garlic, jalapeño and honey. Blend until the jalapeño and garlic are puréed, then add fennel, cumin, coriander seeds and pulse four or five times to bruise the spices and mix them in.
Pour mixture over the pork, tossing to coat the pieces. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes while you heat the grill, or up to 24 hours. (We marinated for 24 hours to make sure all of that great flavor permeated the pork.)
When ready to cook, heat the grill or broiler with a rack positioned 4 inches from the heat source.
Thread the pork onto skewers, leaving a little space between cubes. Grill over the highest heat possible, or broil on high, for 2 to 5 minutes, then flip the skewers and continue cooking until the meat is browned all over and charred in spots. It should be just cooked through: A little pink is OK, but there shouldn’t be any red spots.
Serve the pork with cilantro sprigs and onion slices on top, and lime wedges on the side for squeezing.
Don’t use regular cucumbers; they contain a large amount of seeds that will quickly water down the salad, even if first salted to remove excess moisture. And don’t forget to peel the cucumbers. The skins will block the salt from drawing out the maximum amount liquid of from the watery flesh.
2 Medium garlic cloves, finely grated
2 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger
4 Tbsp. lime juice
1½ tsp. sriracha
½ tsp. white sugar
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
3 English cucumbers, trimmed and peeled
½ Cup roasted unsalted peanuts, finely chopped
4 Scallions, thinly sliced
1 Serrano chili, stemmed, halved, seeded and thinly sliced
½ Cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, finely chopped
In a small bowl, stir together the garlic, ginger, lime juice, Sriracha, sugar and ½ teaspoon salt. Set aside. Place the cucumbers on a cutting board. With the flat side of a chef’s knife or a rolling pin, hit the cucumbers until they split and crack. I used a meat mallet which worked great!
Slice the cucumbers ½-inch thick on the diagonal and transfer to a large colander set over a large bowl. Add 2 teaspoons salt and toss. Top with a plate smaller than the diameter of the colander; weigh down the plate with 2 or 3 cans. Let stand until liquid has pooled in the bowl, about 15 minutes. Discard the liquid, then rinse and dry the bowl.
In the same large bowl, combine the cucumbers, peanuts, scallions, chili and cilantro. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Taste and season with salt and pepper.