Saturday, May 17, 2014

Braised Lamb Neck

I took a lamb butchery class earlier this week at The Pantry at Delancy in Ballard.  It was hands on, very informative, and gave me a renewed respect for butchers and the physical nature of butchery.  We used boning knives, cleavers and bone saws.  We used most every part of the lamb and at the end of it all, there was very little waste.  I loved it. I loved it for the technicality of it, for the education on uses for different parts of the lamb we don't normally see in the store, and that good butchery, like any other work when its done really well, is a true art.  

We each went home with a bag full of lamb and so tonight it's a little lamb fest at the Emerton house.  I marinated rib chops, shoulder chops and porterhouse chops in balsamic vinegar, honey, mustard, soy, rosemary, thyme and garlic to grill.  I was also fortunate to get some lamb necks which we were told are gaining popularity amongst chefs, like a new beef short rib. I also have in my freezer, plenty of ground lamb, and some boneless leg of lamb.  Pacino even got lucky with some lamb bones.  I couldn't wait to braise the necks.

For the lamb neck:
Salt and pepper and brown under the broiler.
Make a mirepoix onions, carrot, celery and shallot.
Smash and chop 2 heads of garlic.
In a small dutch oven, heat a little olive oil.  Sauté the mirepoix and garlic until the vegetables are softened and beginning to brown.
Add a couple fresh bay leaves, a sprig of rosemary and a tablespoon of tomato paste.  Stir in and mix well. 
Then add 2 tablespoons of flour and stir to combine.
Deglaze with 1 ½ to 2 cups of red wine.  Stir in and bring to a boil. 
Add 1 ½ cups of beef stock and bring back to boil.
Add the lamb necks to the pot, cover, turn the heat down to low and braise for about 2 ½  to 3 hours, or until lamb is fork tender.  Serve with buttery mashed potatoes and a greek salad.  Excellent!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Chuckanut Drive and Taylor Shellfish Farms

A Happy Mother's Day to all of my fellow moms!  We had a lovely day here in Seattle.  It was a perfect day for a day trip.  Chris researched and read about this outing and treated me to one of my favorite things, fresh oysters, and to a wonderful mother's day.  If you live here in Seattle, love freshly shucked oysters, some delicious farm cheeses and beautiful scenery, get in your car on a sunny day and drive north to Chuckanut Drive.  Bring some ice cold drinks, an oyster shucker and anything else you desire for a ocean side picnic.

Head north on I-5 and take exit 236 to Bow Hill Road.  Our first stop was Samish Bay Cheese making a variety of organic cheeses using only milk from their cows.  We purchased gouda, cheddar, aged Ladysmith and the Ladysmith with chives for our picnic.  Creamy delicate cheeses found here and in many farmers' markets around town.

Then head around the corner to Farm to Market Bakery and pick up some treats to tide you over until you gather the rest of your goodies.  We got the chocolate peanut butter cookies and a slice of marion berry pie.  Yum!

Drive on into Edison and stop at the Breadfarm to grab a baguette for the cheese and any other baked goods your stomach or heart desires.  We got a palmier, a stout chocolate cupcake and a baguette.  

There are other places in town to pick up drinks or a sandwich should you need other provisions.  Now it's time to make your way up to Taylor Shellfish Farms.  Here you can pick up a variety of whatever oysters they have just harvested as well as dungeness crab, geoduck, scallops, clams, mussels, etc.  We got 2 dozen Shigoku oysters, shucked them one by one at the picnic table and slurped them down with a little champagne vinegar and shallot mignonette.  Chris noted how much stronger the oysters held onto their shell when he was trying to pry them open.  They must be stronger because they were just harvested!  We both raved about how sweet and truly fresh they were.  Divine!   

After lunch, drive north on scenic Chuckanut Drive and head into the town of Fairhaven.   Walk around town and explore some of the shops or if you're still in need of a little something something, stop in at Acme Ice Cream for a quick cone.  There's some really creamy good ice cream here.

All in all, a superb day and one which I'm sure we'll be repeating in the near future.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Roasted Whole Branzini

I don't think I've seen Branzini, also known as Branzino, being sold in a market here before. So, when I came across it at Whole Foods today, I couldn't pass it up.  Seems like I recall reading about it roasted whole a lot and there's even a restaurant named after it in downtown Seattle.  I'm cooking mine tonight following the herd and roasting it whole with a simple preparation.

1 Whole Branzini, about 1 ¼ to 1 ½ pounds
1 Small lemon, thinly sliced into rounds
2 Sprigs fresh rosemary
Several sprigs of fresh thyme
4-6 Garlic cloves, depending on size
2 Tablespoons brandy
1-2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

The branzini should come gutted and cleaned.  Make sure it is scaled as well.  
Make about 4 small diagonal cuts on the outside of each side of the fish.  
Salt and pepper the inside of the fish.
Smash 2-3 garlic cloves and put into the inside of the fish along with a few slices of lemon, a few sprigs of thyme, 1 sprig of rosemary. 
Take 2-3 garlic cloves and slice into ⅛" slices.  Stuff into the cuts on the outside of the fish.
Drizzle 1 tablespoon each of the brandy and olive oil into the bottom of a roasting dish.  
Lay a few slices of lemon on top. 
Salt and pepper the fish and lay it on top of the lemon.
Drizzle remaining brandy and olive oil over top of fish.
Salt and pepper the top.
Lay remaining lemon, rosemary and thyme around the fish.

Heat oven to 450f. Roast the fish for about 5 minutes and then turn over and roast for another 7-9 minutes until skin begins to crisp and fish is cooked through.  Use a toothpick to see if the meat will pull apart easily.
I loved this fish!  Really fresh and clean.  So good.