Monday, October 27, 2008

Leg of Lamb-

As I said before, I wanted to get a bit more adventurous. So, since my wife Linda was going to the store I suggested a leg of lamb. I had been reading the lamb section of The Barbecue! Bible, and thought the Cape Town Lamb sounded interesting.

The recipe in the book recommended a six pound bone-in leg of lamb. I suggested that it could be a bit smaller, since we were feeding three to four people. I also had Linda pick up some of the ingredients I did not have on hand.

The lamb she brought home was boned and wrapped in butcher's netting for roasting. It was about four and a half pounds. A bone-in was just not available. It looked quite nice. Some of the other ingredients were not available, so I made one or two adjustments.

Advance Preparation
3 to 8 hours for marinating the meat
For the lamb:
1 bone-in leg of lamb (6 to 8 lbs), trimmed of any papery skin
6 cloves of garlic, cut into thin slivers
6 thin slices peeled fresh ginger, cut into thin slivers
For the glaze:
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp hot Chinese-style mustard, or 1 Tbsp dry mustard
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Prepare the lamb: Using the tip of a sharp paring knife, make slits about an inch deep all over the surface of the lamb. Insert a sliver each of garlic and ginger into each slit. Place the lamb in a nonreactive roasting pan and set aside while you prepare the glaze.
2. Make the glaze: Combine the Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, Dijon and Chinese-style mustards, lemon juice, oil, and minced garlic and ginger in a small, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook the glaze until thick and syrupy, about 3 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Remove the glaze from the heat and taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as necessary. Let cool to room temperature.
3. Pour half of the cooled glaze over the lamb in the roasting pan, brushing to coat it on all sides. Cover and let marinate, in the refrigerator, for 3 to 8 hours (the long the better). Refrigerate the remaining glaze, covered.
4. Set up the grill for indirect grilling, place a large drip pan in the center, and preheat the grill to medium.
5. When ready to cook, place the lamb on the hot grate over the drip pan and cover the grill. Cook the lamb until done to taste, 2 to 2 1/2 hours; when done to medium, an instant-read meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the leg (but not touching the bone) will register 160 F. Start brushing the lamb with the remaining glaze during the last 45 minutes of grilling; brushing it two or three times. If using a charcoal grill, you’ll need to add 10 to 12 fresh coals to each side every hour.
6. Transfer the lamb to a cutting board and brush it one last time with glaze, then let rest for 10 minutes before carving. While the lamb rests, heat any remaining glaze to serve as a sauce with the lamb.

That's the recipe. How it went in my kitchen was a bit different, but not radically so. I slivered the garlic and set the pieces in a bowl. Lacking fresh ginger I liberally sprinkled the cloves with a powdered ginger, newly purchased. These I inserted in slits in the meat as described above.

The glaze I made using the recipe but substituting the powdered ginger (about a generous teaspoon full) and using the powdered dry mustard rather than Chinese style. It cooked out very nicely and required no more salt or pepper. I really liked this sauce and will work with it in the future. It has some real potential for experimentation.

The lamb was coated with the glaze and left overnight in the refrigerator in the recommended non-reactive container. In this case a glass roasting pan and cover.

The next day I prepared my Char-Broil Silver Smoker by getting a good load of Kingsford Mesquite briquettes going in my starter chimney. I have been getting a good pre-heating going before introducing the meat. Several sources, including The Barbecue! Bible, recommend cleaning and lubricating a hot grill. Once I had the grill hot and clean I placed the leg of lamb in the center of the cooking chamber and inserted the thermometer probe.

I planned for about four hours of cooking. I have found checking the fire every twenty minutes or so proves best with the Kingsford fuel in my barbecue. When most of the fuel is heavily ashed and about fifty per cent burned I introduce a fresh load of briquettes. I cover about eighty per cent of the fire surface with fresh fuel. I load them on without pre-lighting. So far this has not produced any off-taste that I can detect.

At about three and a half hours of cooking the temperature had stalled at close to 150 degrees. I loaded on an extra amount of fuel to bring the temperature up. Since I was going to have to open the cooking chamber to brush on more glaze toward the end of the cooking process I wanted a little extra heat to compensate for what would be wasted.

My target temperature was 160 degrees. The final glazing completed and the fourth hour approaching I decided the 158 degrees achieved would be sufficient. It had been a nice, long and slow cooking, and I was ready to eat.

I pulled the meat off of the grill and tented it with foil. I let it rest for almost fifteen minutes. Transferred to the cutting board the lamb looked delicious. I sliced it thin, trying to make even diagonal cuts. It was tender and smelled fabulous.

Having heated the remaining glaze for use as a sauce I served the Cape Town Leg of Lamb. Fabulous! Within twenty minutes everyone in the family had had their fill. I had very little left to put away for a left-over snack. Drizzled with the heated glaze this was one fine dish of lamb.

This was a fun adventure, and worth the investment. However, at $25 plus most of a ten dollar bag of charcoal it is much more expensive than our previous barbecue adventures. I hope to work with lamb again, but will probably focus on lesser expensive cuts of meat most of the time.

After all, much of the history of barbecue has been an effort to make inexpensive cuts of meat not just palatable, but delicious. Now that is an adventure!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Pork Chops!

I decided to grill some pork chops. I set up for direct/indirect grilling. I got a nice fire in the fire box, and dropped the grill in place. I generally run the fire box without the grill to give me room to easily add charcoal and wood chips and bits.

The pork chops I rubbed with my personal mix. I blend equal portions of zesty seasoned salt (from the Dollar Tree), black pepper, and kosher salt in a shaker with good sized openings in the lid. I did a light dusting on each side of each chop, patting the mix into the surface of the meat.

A note on the zesty seasoned salt. It has a good overall flavor, with a bit of pepper and citrus salt detectable in the mix. I rather like the light citrus tang. Generally my blend provides good seasoning without being overwhelming.

I seared the chops on the fire box grill, and then transferred them to the smoke box to finish via indirect heat. I removed the grill from the fire box so that I could shape the fire to my liking. I prefer to rake the coals over close to the opening into the smoking chamber. I use a garden hand rake for the job. I also keep a garden trowel nearby for moving charcoal and debris.

There was a small error in my cooking I want to note. In placing the chops in the smoking chamber I got the thinner pieces too close to the intake from the fire box. Some of the edges charred. Fortunately, some family members consider this a good thing. However, I think I will be more careful with placement of thinner pieces in the future.

One new thing I tried with these pork chops was individually wrapping them before placing them in the freezer. This way I could pull just the number I was going to cook and spread them out in the refrigerator to thaw. I got an even thaw on each piece this way.

On the whole another very nice barbecue, late in the season.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Something new-

Not that I have something new. Recently I did another pork shoulder roast, and it turned out very nice. Some of the family asked me to back off on the spices a bit, so I lightened up. With pre-seasoning the meat before cooking there is always the risk of going overboard.

I am thinking that I need to actually plan some more adventurous cooking. I love the standard cuts of meat, and I really like the way the Char-Broil Silver Smoker makes cooking relatively easy. However, I intended this barbecue adventure to be adventurous. So, I must explore some ideas and try some new things.

Tomorrow, provided the predicted rain in our area is not too bad, I will do some pork chops. I have done steaks and chops via indirect heat several times, and really like the infusion of the smoke flavor. I will probably drop the grill grate onto the fire box and do a little direct heat to finish.

I am still seeking sources of charcoal and wood that might be a bit less expensive. So far the bags from the local Safeway are as reasonable as I can find. Most of the specialty houses on the Internet are a bit pricey. Name brand apple wood? Hmmm.

My vacation starts in a few days. I will be away for about two weeks. Heading to Medford, Oregon. I will, of course, keep my eyes open with regard to all things barbecue. I might find something interesting to share.