Monday, March 28, 2016

Mystery Meat

Greek Roast Leg of Lamb
Like most home cooks, I fall into ruts.  The same old stuff is easy to make, everyone eats it and I can prepare it in my sleep. It’s comforting, but where’s the thrill of the new and exciting?  

It’s not that I want to dine on exotic animals, but when a mountain lion crept into the Los Angeles Zoo recently and gobbled up a koala I did wonder what it tasted like.  I had venison once as a kid but have no recollection of its flavor.  A friend shot a bear recently, and his wife filled the freezer with bear meat.  I never got to try it because they live 3,000 miles away, but she said it tasted fatty.

My first copy of “Joy of Cooking” included recipes for opossum and squirrel, neither of which I’ve attempted to make—possibly because the squirrel-cooking directions say: “To skin, cut the tailbone through from beneath….”  Or, for opossums, “If possible, trap ‘possum and feed it on milk and cereal for 10 days before killing….”

Recently I’ve been thinking about “mystery meat,” that unidentifiable college entree my kids told me about.  Maybe it wasn’t as awful as they said.  Maybe it was some new entrée being tested on unsuspecting students.  Or maybe not.

I think I’ll console myself with some Greek Roast Leg of Lamb cooked medium-rare.

Greek Roast Leg of Lamb – serves 8-10 (adapted from "Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen!")  
1 boneless leg of lamb, 5-6 pounds 
1 garlic clove 
1 tablespoon olive oil 
1/2 lemon 
1 teaspoon dried oregano 
1/4 teaspoon black pepper 
Remove the lamb from the refrigerator 2 hours before cooking to allow it to reach room temperature.  When you are ready to cook the meat, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. 
Peel the garlic and cut it into 6 slivers.  Place the lamb, fat side up, on a rack in a roasting pan.  Cut 6 slits, each 1/2-inch deep, in different places on top of the lamb and insert the garlic.  
Pour the olive oil over the lamb, squeeze the lemon over the oil and then sprinkle on the oregano and black pepper.  

Bake the lamb for 25 minutes per pound (rare), 30 minutes per pound (medium) or 35 minutes per pound (well-done).  Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.  When the lamb is finished cooking, remove it from the oven and let it sit for 15 minutes on the rack or transfer it to a cutting board.  This last-minute wait will make it much easier to slice.