Mint stuffing instead of sauce: Recipe for spring lamb gets a creative update


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Posted Online: April 02, 2013, 9:48 am
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The classic spring lamb often is served with mint jelly. And that's fine, assuming you want to play it safe.

We decided to flip things around. Actually, we didn't so much as flip the dish as turn it inside out. Rather than relegate the mint to a condiment added at the table, we used it to create a vibrant pesto, which we then stuffed in a leg of lamb so it could infuse the meat with flavor during roasting.

And to stand in for the sweet and sour flavors of the mint sauce, we braised red cabbage right under the lamb. The result is an intensely meaty, flavorful accompaniment. If you still want a minty sauce, the reserved pesto can be thinned with olive oil, then drizzled over each serving.

The whole roast can be prepped ahead of time, then refrigerated overnight. The day of the dinner, just pop the whole roasting pan in the oven and you're good to go. If your cabbage or lamb begins to overbrown during roasting, just tent the pan with foil.

Orange and mint-stuffed lamb with sweet and sour cabbage
Start to finish: 4 1/2 hours (1 hour active)
Servings: 8
1 small head red cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup red wine
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt
Zest and juice of 2 oranges
1 bunch fresh mint, leaves only
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup grated manchego cheese
1/2 cup toasted cashews
Ground black pepper
3 1/2-pound boneless leg of lamb
3 slices stale or crusty bread
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Heat the oven to 300 F.
In a medium bowl, combine the cabbage, onion, red wine, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, red pepper flakes and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Spread the mixture evenly over the bottom of a roasting pan large enough to fit the leg of lamb. Set aside.
To make the pesto, in a processor, combine the orange zest and juice, the mint, olive oil, cheese, cashews, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Process until completely blended, then reserve 1/2 cup.
Place the leg of lamb on a cutting board. Starting on a long side, cut the meat in half horizontally, but do not cut all the way through. Leave about 1 inch of meat uncut at the other side. Open the meat like a book, then place a piece of plastic wrap over it. Use a meat mallet or rolling pin to pound the meat to an even thickness of about 2 inches.
Season the meat all over with salt and pepper. Spread the pesto over the cut side of the meat. Starting at one of the long sides, roll the lamb into a log with the pesto in the center. Use kitchen twine to tie the lamb in several spots to prevent it from unrolling. Place the lamb over the cabbage mixture in the roasting pan. Set aside.
In a food processor, pulse the bread until it is reduced to soft crumbs. Stir in the mustard, then pat the mixture over the outside of the lamb. Roast for 3 1/2 hours, or until the meat is fork-tender. Allow the lamb to rest for 15 minutes, then slice it across the roll. Serve alongside the braised cabbage from the bottom of the pan and the reserved mint pesto.

Nutrition information per serving: 630 calories; 320 calories from fat (51 percent of total calories); 35 g fat (15 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 140 mg cholesterol; 31 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 15 g sugar; 44 g protein; 500 mg sodium.

















 



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  Today is Wednesday, April 23, the 113th day of 2014. There are 252 days left in the year.

1864 — 150 years ago: Some persons are negotiating for 80 feet of ground on Illinois Street with a view of erecting four stores thereon. It would serve a better purpose if the money was invested in neat tenement houses.
1889 — 125 years ago: The Central station, car house and stables of the Moline-Rock Island Horse Railway line of the Holmes syndicate, together with 15 cars and 42 head of horses, were destroyed by fire. The loss was at $15,000.
1914 — 100 years ago: Vera Cruz, Mexico, after a day and night of resistance to American forces, gradually ceased opposition. The American forces took complete control of the city.
1939 — 75 years ago: Dr. R. Bruce Collins was reelected for a second term as president of the Lower Rock Island County Tuberculosis Association.
1964 — 50 years ago: Work is scheduled to begin this summer on construction of a new men's residence complex and an addition to the dining facilities at Westerlin Hall at Augustana College.
1989 — 25 years ago: Special Olympics competitors were triple winners at Rock Island High School Saturday. The participants vanquished the rain that fell during the competition, and some won their events; but most important, they triumphed over their own disabilities.




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