Over the summer I had a wonderful lamb dish at Rose Water (unfortunately I lost the pictures of the food) in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Rose Water is a tiny Park Slope restaurant focused on local, seasonal, organic ingredients. I’ve been going there for years and have never had a bad meal there. Rose Water roasted their leg of lamb in a harissa sauce. Lovely. The spiciness of the harissa sauce balanced the richness of the fork tender lamb.
I’ve always wanted to make leg of lamb. When I was growing up we had a herd of sheep and every spring we ate lots of lamb. I’m still quite fond on lamb. Unfortunately, not everyone is. I think they just haven’t tried good lamb yet but I’m hesitant to make a leg of lamb for a dinner party.
Averaging around 7 pounds, a leg of lamb for just Reed and I would yield more leftovers than I care to imagine so I’m always on the look out for interesting lamb recipes using smaller cuts than the leg.
The other day I saw a recipe for crispy lamb breast in the New York Times. It sounded excellent and the lamb breast was only 3 pounds including bones and a good deal of fat. While 3 pounds would still yield lots of leftovers, it was a manageable amount.
When I went to the grocery store, I was just giddy when they had a 1.5 pound lamb breast. My lucky day. I cut the Times recipe in half. Now it yields dinner for two plus leftovers for a wicked good sandwich the next day. Perfect!
This recipe would be great for a dinner party (assuming you have enough lamb friendly buddies) because its a dish you mostly make ahead. Either double the recipe or go directly to the Times recipe which serves 4 to 6. The only down side is that your friends will miss rich, garlicy aromas of the roasting lamb since you do it the day before.
Crispy Lamb with Yogurt Sauce & Scallions (served 2-3)
(Active time: 40 minutes Total time: 25 hours)
For the Lamb:
- 1/2 head garlic, peeled
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely minced
- 1 1/2 tbsp fresh mint, finely minced
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lamb breast (approximately 1.5 pounds)
For the Yogurt Sauce:
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tbsp fresh mint, finely minced
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- salt & pepper to taste
- smoked paprika to taste
For the Scallions:
- 2 bunches scallions
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
- salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a mortar and pestle or the flat of your knife mash the garlic and salt into a paste. Gradually mix in the olive oil. Stir in the herbs and pepper.
Place the lamb in a roasting pan and rub it all over with the garlic paste. Turn it rib side down in pan. Cover tightly with foil, and roast until it reaches an internal temperature of 170 degrees, 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on size of breast. The lamb should be soft but not falling apart. Allow to cool, then cover and rest in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day, prepare the sauce. Whisk 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil into the yogurt. Then add the lemon juice, mint, lemon zest and salt. Before serving, drizzle the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil over the sauce and sprinkle with pepper and a pinch of paprika.
Cut the breast and ribs away from the bone that runs lengthwise between them. Cut the breast into half-inch slices that resemble thick-cut bacon, and separate the ribs. Reserve fat from the roasting pan. Light your grill, or heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook a few pieces of lamb at a time on fairly high heat, until browned and crispy on both sides, approximately 4 to 6 minutes.
Brush the onions with some of the lamb fat. Place them on the grill or on a pan under a preheated broiler. Cook them, turning once or twice, until flimsy and slightly charred. Remove them to a large bowl and dress with the vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.