Roast turkey. Pot roast. The ham with the little pineapple-ring hats. These are the makings of your standard -- read: predictable -- holiday dinner. Step up your game this season with an insanely decadent (but totally doable) lambchetta recipe from Daniel Naumko, owner of the Sybarite Pig, coming soon to Boca Raton.
"This is a very family-friendly recipe that can feed a good six to eight people depending on how hungry they are," Naumko said. "My grandmother was from the Ukraine and during the holidays she would always use a mixture of sweet and savory ingredients as stuffing on beef, pork, and lamb applications. This is an interpretation of what I remember we always ate together as a family."
"First of all, you need to find a good lamb purveyor that is able to sell you an entire lamb leg. The leg needs to be small; the smaller the better," Naumko said. "I like to get bone in legs to debone it myself and make delicious stock out of the bones. If deboning a lamb leg does not sound fun to you, then a deboned leg would be your best option. A second option would be to buy a boneless lamb loin with the fat cap on it. You'll also need some butchering skills to butterfly it so you're able to stuff it, roll it, and truss it before placing it into the oven."
Regardless what piece of meat you use, the rest of the recipe is as follows:
1 cup toasted pistachios
1/4 cup of minced garlic
1/4 cup of fresh mint chiffonnade
1/2 cup of shallot brunnoise
1 TB of freshly ground black pepper (medium grind)
salt to taste
olive oil to taste
approx. 1/4 cup of pitted dry prunes
your favorite wheat beer (Naumko suggests using a local brew whenever possible)
Naumko said "the process is very simple." Place the butterflied leg of lamb on a clean meat board. Remove any "nasty looking" chunks of fat from the inside of the leg. You want fat both inside and outside of the lambchetta, but you don't want any sinew or dried yellowish fat. Once it looks "nice and inviting," evenly scatter all of the seasonings (hold the prunes) onto what will become the inside of your lambchetta. Place one or two straight lines of prunes (depending of the size of the piece of meat) perpendicularly so that you get a little bit of prune in each cut of meat. Carefully roll the lamb into a cylindrical shape, being sure the prunes stay in place.
"A trick I use is to place the first line of prunes very close to the edge of the meat on the side where I plan on starting to roll," Naumko said. "Then, using both of my hands, I lift up the meat on both sides, fold the meat onto the prunes, and start rolling while holding on tight to that first roll of meat and prunes to make sure they stay in place."
After you're done rolling, tie the piece so that it "will stay beautiful."
"This is something that might give you a little trouble but don't worry: Just stay calm and don't give up," Naumko said. "What we do at The Sybarite Pig is use an elastic net that pretty much compresses the piece and holds it together. They're available from sausage-making supply stores online."
Once you're satisfied with the look of the lambchetta, season it on the outside. Next, decide how to cook it. Naumko cooks his lambchetta under a vacuum (using the sous vide method) for a long time and finishes it in the oven.
"At home you can bake it or braise it," Naumko said. "I would recommend braising for a
If you plan to braise it, start by first searing the meat. If the piece is too big to sear in a pan, an outdoor grill will work. Once there's a good sear, place the meat in a braising pan big enough to hold the piece plus beer, which should go up to about two-thirds of the side of the lamb. Place it into a 300 degree oven until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 135 degrees; about one and a half hours. Once the cooking has completed, remove from oven and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes before carving.
"We love to pair this dish with a generous glob of pea puree topped with pan drippings and fresh herbs," Naumko said.
Barring any unforeseen licensing hangups, Sybarite Pig should open this weekend in west Boca Raton. Decadent meaty dishes will most definitely be on the menu.
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