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Archive for Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Book offers savory dishes for hectic lifestyles

October 15, 2003

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If you want streamlined action in your home kitchen, you'd rightly expect a book titled "Matthew Kenney's Big City Cooking: Recipes for a Fast-Paced World" to have some answers for you.

Kenney, a New York City chef and owner of five Manhattan restaurants, co-wrote the book with Joan Schwartz, drawing from his experience of trying to balance hectic timetables and a passion for cooking and eating.

The recipes in the book, he says, "are up-to-date, clean, and, most important, they can all be prepared within a busy lifestyle or in a small kitchen with limited equipment."

This lamb dish is from the chapter "Roasting Fast and Slow" and it is among the fastest. The thin lamb loins with their flavorful stuffing cook quickly; a note points out that the meat and stuffing are tied together, so you should slice them carefully.

Roasted Lamb Loin Stuffed with Almonds, Dates, Goat Cheese and Mint

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For the lamb:

2 lamb loins, about 10 ounces each, trimmed, leaving a thin layer of fat

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 ounces soft goat cheese

1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely chopped or torn mint leaves

3/4 cup almonds, toasted

1/2 cup coarsely chopped pitted dates

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

For the vinaigrette:

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

2 tablespoons honey

1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

To roast the lamb: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place each lamb loin between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and, using a meat mallet, pound to a thickness of about 3/4 inch (or pound with the bottom of a bottle, but use caution). Lay one of the pounded lamb loins flat on a work surface. Season with salt and pepper and spread with the goat cheese, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around. Top with the mint and about half of the chopped almonds and dates, reserving the rest for garnish.

Season the other loin with salt and pepper and place seasoned-side down on top of the first loin, overlapping the edges as much as possible so the filling will not come out. Tie crosswise tightly with kitchen twine at about 3/4-inch intervals, and season all over with salt and pepper.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, sear the lamb loin for 1 to 2 minutes per side. Place the skillet in the oven and roast for 12 to 15 minutes, Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 to 7 minutes.

To make the vinaigrette: Combine the orange juice, honey and cilantro leaves in a medium nonreactive bowl. Whisk in 2 tablespoons olive oil in a steady stream, and season with salt and pepper. Keep the vinaigrette at room temperature before serving, so it won't cool down the lamb.

To serve: Remove the string and cut the lamb into 3/4-inch slices, carefully cutting straight up and down. Arrange the slices on a large platter or on 4 serving plates, and drizzle the vinaigrette generously around them (the meat will soak up a lot of vinaigrette). Sprinkle with the remaining chopped dates and toasted almonds.

Makes 4 servings.

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