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Locavore Cooking with Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm

Posts Tagged ‘lamb

Kidneys Aren’t So Offal After All

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Goat and lamb kidneys (I think the smaller grey one is lamb) from Apple Creek Farm in Bowdoinham. Surprisingly delicious if first soaked in salt water and then alcohol, to remove much of that urine-y essence.

The taste-buds of toddlers, even the most omnivorous of ones, seem to grow pickier near the age of two. That’s certainly been the case with Theo. We depend upon green smoothies, fortified with kale and carrots, to get vegetables into him now. He tends to favor plain starches, bananas and peanut butter, granola and other sweet items these days. So we were delighted to discover he had a taste for lamb kidneys and liver, and tripe soup, at a recent special Greek diner menu at our beloved Trattoria Athena here in Brunswick. I was also happy to discover I had a taste for kidneys, after my unpleasant experience with rabbit ones a while back. And pleased to discover Apple Creek Farm in Bowdoinham sold delicate lamb and goat kidneys at my Brunswick farmers’ market for an affordable $3 a pound. Apple Creek farmers Jake and Abby said the only other customers who ask for them are mothers inspired by Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions.

"Odd bits" such as kidneys are a great farmers' market find for those on a budget.

“Odd bits” such as kidneys are a great farmers’ market find for those on a tight budget.

I’ve bought lamb and goat kidneys twice from them now and found them delicious. I think the goat ones had a more off-putting barnyard aroma, but by eating time, I got confused which was which. To remove the kidneys’ urine flavor (hey, urine is sterile anyway:)), I soaked them in heavily salted water and then some beer the first time and sweet vermouth the second time I made them. For a recipe, I adapted Mark Bittman’s one for breaded veal kidneys sauteed with shallots and sherry, from his How to Cook Everything. I drained the kidneys and discarded their liquid, removed tough white membranes, sliced them into tender medallions, salted and peppered them, then dredged in flour and pan-fried in butter. I kept them warm in a 200 degree oven while I sauteed shallots with more butter in the pan, and then deglazed it with sherry and sweet vermouth and a touch a maple syrup for sweetness. That sauce goes over the kidneys. Serve warm with crusty bread.

A kidney cross-section. I realize not for the faint of heart.

A kidney cross-section. I realize not for the faint of heart.

Unfortunately, now-finicky Theo refused the kidneys both times at home. Mama sure enjoyed them as an appetizer, but their richness, like liver but with a sweeter, less metallic flavor, meant I couldn’t make a meal of them. A little goes a long way with offal. Let’s hope this kid becomes omnivorous again when he turns two in June. What happened to my keen sardine eater?

The pan-fried kidneys. They could be a pricey app at a trendy Portland restaurant. All yours for $3 a pound.

The pan-fried kidneys. They could be a pricey app at a trendy Portland restaurant. All yours for $3 a pound.

The Elusive Peter Chang’s China Grill in Charlottesville

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Cumin lamb, braised bok choy with tofu skin and Guandong-style boneless duck at Peter Chang's China Grill.

I just got a disturbing annual report from WordPress that says I’ve managed to blog all of seven times in the past year. Here’s my 8th attempt at a post, staring down the midnight, here comes ominous Mayan 2012 deadline. 2011, with a turbulent pregnancy, new motherhood and a slow computer clogged with my huge, disorganized audio, photo and video files, somehow got away from me. I commit to do better in 2012. I’ll make baby Theo‘s afternoon naps my new blogging time.

The new year finds us visiting family in Charlottesville, home of the celebrated Peter Chang’s China Grill. The “disappearing chef” himself appears to be staying put in Thomas Jefferson’s university town, where he’s had a continuous run at the former Wild Greens cafe space in the former Barracks Road Shopping Center since March. (Speaking of C’ville restaurant news, did you hear The Tavern, an institution with a questionable food safety record, has closed? I say good riddance.)

Chang’s is known for authenic, hot and numbing Sichuan fare. We’ve eaten there twice and particularly loved his eggplant dishes, spicy dan dan noodles and fragrant, Uighur-inspired cumin lamb. Dining at the restaurant this trip, we had eggplant deliciously dry-fried with no residual grease, like crisp French fries. The numbing Sichuan peppercorns atop make it too hot for some. We had our favorite tender cumin lamb. And I wanted to try a duck dish. The smoked duck at the neighboring table was temptingly served Beijing kaoya-style, but with fluffly baozi-style buns (think David Chang’s unctuous pork belly buns) instead of bland pancakes. But the neighbors said to order sweet Guandong duck instead so we did. It had a pleasant, if unspectacular, sweet-and-sour sauce. The rectangles of fried duck were boneless, which made for smoother eating. And we started with Shanghai-style scallion pancakes, a nostalgic taste of China for me. Except they were unusually puffed up like Indian pooris. I once made Eileen Yin-Fei Lo’s pancake recipe, with lard, but my technique needs perfecting. Here’s to making more Chinese scallion pancakes in the new year, as I post this just as the clock strikes midnight!

Scallion pancakes puffed up like poori at Peter Chang's.

 

Written by baltimoregon

December 31, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Luscious Lamb Ragu

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Lamb Ragu

Already defrosting-ground lamb, bought on a whim from Afton Field Farm at rainy closing time at the Saturday market, inspired this simple, stick-to-your-ribs meal. Beef, pork, or even rabbit, yes, but you might not think to put lamb in your meat sauce. But it’s delicious, albeit with that slightly gamey, lanloiny, earthy lamb flavor. We had Mark Bittman’s vote of confidence in this endeavor. We used leek instead of onion, added garlic and fresh oregano to the mix and used milk because we didn’t have cream on hand. Pecorino Romano would have been nice–keep the lamb in the sheep’s milk of its mother, or something–but our Parmigiano-Reggiano had to do. Dan loved it. Meat and tomatoes, over pasta. Nothing makes that boy happier. And after a rain-soaked day, it was just what I needed.

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Paints and raincoat soaked through.

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Will it ever be dry and sunny again?

Written by baltimoregon

November 9, 2009 at 6:50 pm

Lovely Local Lamb and Figs

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Getting intimate with the rack.Getting intimate with the rack.

Dan’s uncle and aunt, our yenta (not in the busybody sense), came all the way from New York to visit, so I wanted to make a special meal.

Eggplant Parmesan? Fresh fish? But then I stumbled upon new Bon Appetit recipe for Lamb Chops with Fresh Herbs and Roasted Figs. That’s what I would make. But calling these lamb chops is a bit misleading. It’s rack of lamb cut into chops. Not the most recession-friendly recipe. But luckily I found an affordable local source of lamb just down the road. I even biked to their store to procure it. Nice rack. Had to crack a little joke as I took the 3-lbs. of meat (and mostly rib bones) from the freezer.

Blushing beauties: Kadota figs.

Blushing beauties: Kadota figs.

The hardest part of the recipe was timing the cooking of the lamb right and carving the chops. All you do is rub the rack with herbs and garlic, add some salt and pepper, brown, roast then roast the succulent halved Kadota figs in the lamb fat. I especially love such plain-looking green figs with their resplendent blush interiors. In Siddhartha, when Herman Hesse compares “her mouth to a fig split in two“: that’s a description that’s stayed with me. Don’t you just love Google Books?

To whet our appetites, we noshed on local cheeses (including the end of an addictive Rogue Creamery Rosemary Cheddar) with hazelnut sourdough bread from the farmers’ market. They sampled my pickles; the kosher dills were a hit, maybe even better than Ben’s? What better compliment could a girl get. The asparagus and okra pickles didn’t go over as well.

Rounding out the meal was Julia’s always reliable, amenable whole grain salad. I threw blanched green beans from our garden and roasted local Italian peppers into it. I recommend making it with Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains Blend (Israeli couscous, orzo, split garbanzo beans and red quinoa). I think that’s the Trader Joe’s item I most miss. I always pick some up when I’m in Portland. It’s supposed to be coming to Corvallis. Of course, they’ll probably discontinue carrying this product by then.

The meal.

The meal.

Julia's whole grains.

Julia's whole grains.

Written by baltimoregon

September 10, 2009 at 9:17 am

Lamb Stew with Baby Spring Vegetables

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Navarin D'Agneau Printanier

Navarin D'Agneau Printanier

Ivy Manning‘s fabulous farmers-market friendly recipes keep tempting me! This French stew adapted from Chef Pascal Sauton of Portland’s Carafe (which I have yet to try) also called for several ingredients we needed to get rid of: frozen lamb stew meat, beef broth, and we already had the tomato paste, the white wine and the herbs on hand.

Granted it’s not spring anymore, but baby carrots and cute little baby turnips (I used both white and pink ones) are still in season at the market. Had to go non-local with the white pearl onions –something I’ve never purchased before — but they were sweet when caramelized in brown butter. And of course, this tangy stew tasted even better the second day.

Written by baltimoregon

June 30, 2009 at 1:33 am

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Lamb Meatballs Redux

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We had ground lamb in the freezer from Bald Hill Farm just down the road. So I recreated the sesame-crusted meatballs we feasted on last week. Take a pound of ground lamb, chop lots of mint, parsley, dried figs and green garlic, beat in an egg and grate in orange zest. Serve with a minted yogurt sauce. Here’s a version of the recipe from Gourmet Magazine here. They were aromatic, crunchy yet moist on the inside. But Dan still prefers his lambs in stews or more saucy, curry-like creations.

Written by baltimoregon

May 19, 2009 at 8:50 am

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Lamb Meatballs, Part Deux

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Lamb meatballs, jambalaya and portabello mushrooms/soba noodle sautee

Wondering what to do with that ball of ground lamb in your freezer? I had almost forgotten about sweet, Morrocan-inspired lamb meatballs. At a potluck tonight, our host served white and black sesame seed-coated ones with chopped figs, nutmeg and fresh mint in the mix, served with a yogurt sauce. They were more subtle than the citrusy prune ones I made last fall. You always learn new kitchen tricks at a shared meal.

The home in Southtown Corvallis also has a chicken coop and numerous well-crafted raised beds of vegetables. They’ve staked their early-planted tomatoes with plastic hoops so they can cover the vulnerable nightshades to keep them warm on these still chilly nights. I’ve just been leaving my tomato starts out on the deck. Hopefully they survive.

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Written by baltimoregon

May 12, 2009 at 11:32 pm

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