Shredded lamb on Israeli couscous pilaf
Scott and I had a few of his homies over for dinner and vid night the other night. I had already thawed out a lamb shoulder roast to clear out some room in the freezer, so it was good that we were having some company. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford was a pretty decent flick – Casey Affleck can act circles around his brother. And we finally cleaned our house, as we are wont to do when company’s expected.
The closest thing to maternal feelings I ever have is when I cook for people. Pete is a confirmed bachelor and doesn’t get a good home-cooked meal unless he literally visits home. Chris is engaged to a vegetarian who has spent a fair amount of time around livestock of varying degrees of adorableness (and although she is mostly tolerant of his meat eating, she draws the line at lamb). So I particularly love cooking meat for these two guys. I feel like I’m giving them something special when they come over, something that can only be dished up by a nice lady in an apron.
I just found out (confirmed a suspicion, really) that lamb shoulder lends itself perfectly to a low and slow type of cooking. Three or four hours at 275oF did the trick nicely. Since I was a bit hobbled up, I showed Scott how to make my secret rub: cumin and coriander seed, the seeds from one black cardamom pod, a couple cloves, a stick of cinnamon, some peppercorns and a pinch of chili flake. Toast until fragrant and whizz in the dedicated grinder. Fat pinch of salt. Slice gashes into the meat and massage that shit in like you’re warming up a girl you want to get into bed. Brown with a rough-chop mirepoix on the stove and roast (covered) until falling apart (the bones should be sticking out of the meat a good coupla inches). Scott also did the heavy lifting required to lug that fucker out the oven every hour for a flip.
I didn’t trim away any of the excess fat before browning it in the Dutch oven, which in retrospect, probably would’ve been a good idea. There was so much fat floating on the remaining jus that I couldn’t really use it for sauce (I don’t have a separator, boo…). I ended up melting a bit of marmalade with honey and lots of pepper (black and pink) to make a drizzly glaze for the meat. It was pretty good for last-minute.
A simple pilaf of Israeli couscous with garbanzos, golden raisins and chopped prunes, minced parsley and cilantro and toasted pinenuts was great side. Adding glazed baby carrots with toasted cumin seed resulted in such statements as, “Wow, I never just eat carrots. These are really great!”And I glow, oh how I glow. A soft flat bread to scoop up the last of the pilaf and dip up the lamb fat and marmalade.