Monday, June 20, 2016
Lamb with Fennel Fronds and Roast Fennel Summer Salad
Hey Everyone! Please welcome my very first guest blogger! Andrew Lowe is a buddy of mine who is in a great local Seattle band. Not only is he a fantastic musician, he can cook and write too. He's very funny, I like that!
With spring comes summer salads, fresh fruit, produce, and that damn ice cream truck that plays Merry Christmas for some odd reason. While summers are great for barbecues, I do not have that luxury. So tonight’s meal can all be accomplished with an oven and some counter space.
People I’ve met often think of lamb as an exotic meat and refrain from buying it at the market. But really it’s not that different from beef. It’s a lot leaner and has a stronger flavor, which means you can add stronger spices and herbs to it without losing the original flavor. Lamb chops and ground lamb tends to run on the pricey side but blade cuts (like the ones used here) tend to be around $5 for two.
Glass baking pan
Med-large cast iron skillet
Dressing: Adapted from this recipe
3 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
½ Tbs tahini sauce
3-4 drops lemon juice (bottled okay as well)
salt & pepper to taste
3 cups garden greens (fresh preferred)
¼ - ½ cup garbanzo beans (canned)
½ cup strawberries (diced)
2 lamb blade cuts
2-3 cups fennel fronds (the hairy bit)
¼ stick salted butter
salt & pepper
Preheat the oven to 400, place glass baking pan with small amount of olive oil Cut the stalks off the fennel and harvest the fronds (you’ll need about a handful.)
Chop the white bulb into thin slivers about an inch wide –after you’ve held it like the heart of your enemy or at least that person who stood on the left side of the escalator. Jerk.
Put the diced fennel in a plastic bag with a little salt pepper and olive oil. Shake the crap out of it. Let rest for five minutes.
Separate the fronds from the stalk by hand and rough chop. Open the canned garbanzos and drain into strainer. Run under cold water moving around with fingers to remove the outer shells (these are okay to eat but may add an odd texture to the salad.
Take the glass baking pan out of the preheated oven and spread the chopped fennel evenly in the pan. Place in oven and set timer for 45 minutes.
Season lamb with salt, pepper –I tend to go heavy with the pepper. Add a healthy portion of fronds and top and drizzle some olive oil on top. Flip and repeat.
While the fennel is cooking we’ll prep the salad. Add garden greens to bowl, chop and add strawberries. We’ll eventually add the fennel when it’s done baking and has cooled. For right now open up the oven and stir it around. You want them to look crispy and brown on the outer edges.
Dressing time. Combine 3 Tbs olive oil, 2 Tbs apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and ½ Tbs tahini. The tahini gives it a creamy texture and adds some sesame taste as well. Let it rest for about 5 minutes.
Now let’s pull the fennel out of the oven. Since it’s going in the salad you’ll want it to come to chill or at least come to room temperature. Take it out of the pan and place on a plate. Let rest in fridge for at least five minutes. Now you’ll want to lower the oven temp to 375.
Time to get out the cast iron skillet. Set your burner with the cast iron on top to a high setting. We are going to sear the hell out of it. After about 5 minutes your skillet should be good and hot. Not yet smoking but a noticeable heat with your hand about 7” away from it. Add the butter and as soon as it’s all melted add the blade cuts.
For me it took four minutes per side, but your oven may differ (I hope it does my oven is tiny.) Take the skillet off the burner and throw it in the oven for 8 minutes. While this is happening you should add the fennel to your salad and add the dressing. The lamb is done when it has a little give but goes firm when pressed.
Enjoy. I apologize for the blurry pictures. It’s always great when you miss the most critical shot.