“Smile, breathe and go slowly.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
Spring is in the Air! Get Grilling!
It goes without saying that I love to cook. I love to plan the meal, shop for it, cook it and stage it for a photo shoot. And I love writing about it when I’ve wrapped it all up. That is not to say however that sometimes I’m not in a less than marvelous mood when I engage in my most favourite of all endeavours.
When this happens I’ve noticed that the outcome is undeniably impacted by whatever weird mood that might be. I’ve written about this topic before and quoted the wonderful book “Like Water for Chocolate” by Laura Esquivel. I won’t go into another book review (although I quite happily could) but suffice to say that I believe strongly that how we feel emotionally while cooking is clearly represented in the flavours that emerge from the kitchen.
The day I made this beautiful leg of lamb with rosemary and garlic I was TIRED! Neither sad nor sick, stressed nor worried. But man-oh-man was I tired. Needless to say, I was moving slowly. It was a beautiful spring day. Cool but sunny and decidedly spring like and I wanted to make something to reflect that. I also was reluctant to sacrifice such a gorgeous day to a bad night’s sleep.I don’t think there is anything more spring-like than a gorgeous grilled leg of lamb. I have to admit too, I thought that doing something so enjoyable I might fool myself into believing maybe I wasn’t quite so exhausted. Fake it ’til you make it as they say!
What resulted was a leisurely afternoon in the kitchen doing my two favourite things; cooking and photographing. It was by no means an efficient quick-moving afternoon, rather more uncoordinated, often times downright clumsy and forgetful which results in much laughter at my own expense. It was also a languid few hours of extremely pleasurable creativity.
The recipe is a perfect representation of my state of mind at the time. It was coming together of a few favourite flavours inspired by the sun on a spring day.
Menu suggestion: Grilled Eggplant & Wilted Greens with Spiced Yogurt would work beautifully with this dish or the always reliable crowd pleaser Israeli Couscous Salad.
Wine pairing: This is the kind of dish my brother loves… to eat, to cook, to serve and I’m going to flatter myself a tiny bit and say that I think it made him happy to look at when I sent the image as inspiration when requesting his wine pairing as I do each week. His reply was almost immediate and I think you’ll agree, decisive! “Nice big Rhone wine or an Aussie blend. Grenache, Shiraz/Syrah, Mourvèdre. This will be amazing!”
Enjoy & Namaste!
- 1 leg of lamb, boned and cleaned of excess fat
- Fresh rosemary, 12-15 sprigs (1 full bunch), stems removed from half,
other halfjust roughchopped stems and all
- 4 or 5 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with flat of knife
- ¾ cup olive oil
- zest and juice of 1 large lemon
- Combine the stems on half of the rosemary, ½ the smashed garlic, all of the lemon zest and ½ of the lemon juice and ½ cup of the olive oil in a large bowl. Stir together with S&P and toss the leg of lamb in allowing to rest at room temp for about an hour. If you plan on allowing it to marinate for longer then refrigerate but remember to bring back to room temp about 20 minutes before grilling.
- Combine remaining rosemary (without stems) garlic, remaining lemon juice and the last ¼ cup of olive oil in a food processor or mortar and pestle if you're up for the task!
- This puree will be used to baste as you are cooking and to drizzle over the cooked meat just before serving.
- Preheat grill and cook lamb over
medium highheat for about 20 minutes. Internal temp recommended is 145° for medium rare which I strongly suggest for maximum flavour! A good rule o f thumb when grilling is to allow the meat to 'rest' for ⅓ the amount of time spent cooking. So if you've cooked it for 15 mins allow it to rest before carving for 5. YUM!