Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Lamb & Figs

Roast lamb with figs, and then roll out the flatbread
By Karoline Boehm Goodnick, Globe Correspondent | October 6, 2010

Once a common roast for midday Sunday dinner, leg of lamb has lost its place of prominence. One reason is that the joint is known to be hard to carve. But now legs come boned and rolled and take about an hour to roast. With shared Mediterranean origins, lamb and figs are a natural match. Add couscous, a North African staple, and you have an appealing plate. Rub the meat with a smoky, sweet combination of paprika and rosemary. Halfway through roasting, surround the lamb with chopped fresh mission figs so their juices meld with the drippings. While the meat rests after roasting, make a quick pan sauce that will serve you again on flatbreads.

Whether you call it pizza or flatbread, this stylish pie has been embraced by chefs everywhere, and is a terrific way of repurposing leftovers. Buy pizza dough, divide it into pieces, then flatten them (don’t worry if you’re not good at this; misshapen rounds add rustic elegance). Top each with fig sauce, arugula leaves, lamb, and goat cheese. Bake them near the bottom of the oven until they’re firm and golden, then sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. New England practicality meets modern flare.

Roast leg of lamb with figs

Serves 4, with leftovers

1 boned rolled leg of lamb (3 1/2 pounds)
3 cloves garlic, halved
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons olive oil
18 fresh black mission figs, stemmed and chopped
1 cup red wine
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey

1. Set the oven at 450 degrees. With a small knife, cut 6 small slits in the lamb, and place 1/2 clove garlic in each slit. Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper.

2. In a small bowl, mix together rosemary, paprika, and olive oil. Rub lamb with the rosemary mixture. Set it in a large cast iron skillet or heavy roasting pan (not ceramic).

3. Roast the lamb for 20 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Continue roasting for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from oven and set the figs around the edges of the pan. Roast for 20 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted in the center of the meat registers 125 to 130 degrees for rare lamb. (Total roasting time is 55 minutes.) For medium to well-done meat, continue roasting for 5 to 10 minutes or until the temperature reaches 145 to 160 degrees.

4. Transfer the roast to a metal rack set over a plate. Let it rest for 5 minutes (the temperature will continue to rise a few degrees).

5. Pour off the fat from the pan, keeping the juices. Place the pan on a burner over high heat. Add the wine and vinegar. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and let it bubble for 5 minutes. Add honey, salt, and pepper. Set aside 1 1/2 cups sauce with some figs in it for the flatbreads.

6. Discard twine from lamb. Carve the lamb on a slight angle into thick pieces. Set aside 1/4 of the lamb for the flatbreads.

7. Divide the remaining lamb and couscous among 4 plates. Ladle fig sauce over the lamb.

Fig and lamb flatbreads

Serves 4

Olive oil (for sprinkling)
2 pounds commercial pizza dough
Flour (for sprinkling)
1 1/2 cups fig sauce from lamb
2 cups fresh arugula, stemmed
2 cups chopped roast lamb
8 ounces fresh goat cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
Balsamic vinegar (for sprinkling)

1. Set the oven at 500 degrees. Position a rack at the lowest part of the oven. Lightly oil 2 large rimmed baking sheets.

2. Punch down the dough. Divide it into 8 equal pieces. Dust each lightly with flour, and cover 7 of them with a clean towel. Using a rolling pin, roll 1 ball firmly and evenly, flattening it into a 6-inch disk, dusting with flour when the dough becomes sticky. Slip it under the towel and shape the remaining rounds in the same way. Divide the rounds between the baking sheets.

3. With the back of a spoon, spread about 3 tablespoons of fig sauce on each round, then add 1/4 cup arugula, 1/4 cup chopped lamb, 2 tablespoons goat cheese, salt, and pepper.

4. Bake the pizzas for 5 minutes or until the crust is firm and golden. With a wide metal spatula, transfer the pizzas to a large platter. Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and pepper. Brush crust with olive oil.

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