Sunday, April 19, 2015

Cooking lamb

I have cooked lamb before, but as part of a cassoulle type dish, so it wasn't front-and-center. Today, I actually am cooking an English cooking-inspired lamb shoulder and vegetables dish in the slowcooker. Happy Slowcooker Sunday!

Beforehand, I did some research on lamb. I had originally intended to marinate it overnight, but read in several places that lamb is so tender that a marinade can ruin the integrity of the meat. So I opted against marination.

Because I live in a small town in the Midwest, I didn't have the choice of cuts that I might have back home near Atlanta in an over-privileged suburban community. In fact, it was shoulder-steak or nothing. In a way, that made it easier.

Lamb has quite a bit of fat on it, and not knowing very much about the shoulder's origins, I opted to remove the fat pad thing and quite a bit of the other fatty bits. More on this later. After extensive handling, I understand why cultures that value cleanness also value lamb. Unlike handling chicken or pork, it has a nicer texture. I am not big on touching raw meat, but the lamb did not bother me in the least. It felt clean.

I couldn't determine the direction in which to cut the shoulder. The grain in beef is usually easy enough to find, although I'm a complete neophyte here, but the lamb was baffling. If it turns out that I did so badly as to render the lamb unchewable, I'll edit this post later.

The excess fat, shoulder bone, and a bit of attached meat are currently in the oven for the dog. She was very nice while I did my cooking and prep work, so I'm giving her the extras as her reward. Plus, yesterday was her birthday, and it wasn't a great one. I had to go into the 'office' for a half-day, so she spent more time alone than I wanted her to. Solution: lamb!

Anyway, the lamb is cooking and will be ready in about five hours.

I didn't work from a specific recipe, but rather read many recipes and noted the similarities, such as the inclusion of onion, garlic, and rosemary along with red wine. Potatoes and carrots are also popular. I added leeks and celery, along with black pepper and a hint of thyme.

I don't keep alcohol in the house on account of my ex and still being messed up and angry about that, but I found a sweet onion and burgundy flavor pack. I tasted it before adding and found the flavor pretty wonderful. We shall see.

Sorry for the lack of pictures, but the lighting in my kitchen is terrible right now.

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