OCTOBER SUNDAY FAMILY DINNER
Remember those Sunday family dinners? The main dish was almost always a stuffed and roasted chicken, eye-round roast beef, or a roasted leg-of-lamb. I don't know how long Australian lamb and New Zealand lamb has been imported to the USA, but at the risk of being called "un-American"....I must say that I prefer lamb from those two countries. That is, unless, I am able to buy lamb from Niman Ranch. Their family of ranchers do produce an excellent tasting American lamb, raised responsibly.
Many cuisines of the world use lamb in their cooking - Greek, Turkish, Moroccan to name a few. This menu begins with a Baba Ganoush (eggplant) served with toasted naan bread strips (an Indian style bread) You can serve the Baba Ganoush along with cocktails instead of at the table as an appetizer. I might add a plateful of ready-made stuffed grape leaves available at specialty food stores. Serve them with fresh lemon wedges.
The leg of lamb should be marinated overnight - just allow the meat to sit out for at least one hour before roasting. Putting a cold piece of meat into the oven just makes the cooking time longer. An instant-read thermometer is the best way to judge whether cooked meat is the way you like it - an internal temperature of 145°F in the thickest part of the lamb indicates medium-rare).
Side dishes of almost any starch and vegetable seem to compliment roasted lamb, but for this menu I've chosen to serve a Tabbouleh (cracked wheat) salad along side the lamb and grilled eggplant slices.
Dessert really says "Autumn" with a selection of pears, apples, dried fruits such as figs, shelled walnuts, shelled almonds, and an assortment of cheeses - 2 soft cheeses (Brie and Camembert), a hard cheese such as Parmigiano-Reggiano, and a blue cheese such as an English Stilton or an Italian sweet or savory Gorgonzola. A large decorative platter is best to display these ingredients, placed in the center of the table for each guest to select their own dessert plate.
Baba Ganoush/Toasted Naan Bread
1 Heat your oven to 400°F. Trim off ends of each eggplant and use a vegetable peeler to remove the skins. Cut eggplant into into medium cubes and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle cubes with ¼ cup olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Roast eggplant cubes for 15 minutes - or until cubes are softened and lightly browned. Remove pan from oven and let cubes cool.
2. Add garlic, tahini, lemon juice, parsley leaves and ¼ cup olive oil to the bowl of a food processor. Add cooled eggplant cubes and process mixture until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt, pepper and lemon juice if your taste buds call for it.
3. Fabulous Flats Tandoori Naan bread is delicious to serve with Baba Ganoush - toast naan - slice into strips or wedges and serve along side for dipping into the Baba Ganoush.
ROAST LEG OF LAMB
1. A 9 x 13" glass baking dish is great for marinating. Combine all of the marinade ingredients in the dish and add to the lamb - rub marinade all over the lamb - cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for at least 8 hours.
2. Take lamb out of the refrigerator at least 1 hour before roasting. Heat oven to 375°F. Remove lamb from marinade and wipe off excess marinade from the meat with paper towel.
3. Heat a large frying pan or use a roasting pan - add a small amount of olive oil and brown/sear the lamb on the top side only over medium high heat - about 6 - 8 minutes. Transfer browned lamb cut side up to a sheet pan lined with non-stick foil or parchment paper or a shallow roasting pan and place in the heated oven.
4. Roast lamb for 30- 45 minutes - insert an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part to gauge the doneness - I like lamb medium rare which is approximately 140 - 145°F as an internal temperature of the meat.
5. Remove roasting pan from oven - transfer lamb to a cutting board and tent with foil to let the meat rest before carving into serving slices.
1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil; add a good pinch of salt to the water; pour over the bulgur wheat in a heat-proof bowl. Stir, cover with foil and let stand until bulgur absorbs the water - about 30 minutes or more. Remove cover and stir with a fork to fluff the bulgur - let cool slightly.
2. Add the half tomatoes, cubes of cucumber, chopped parsley and cilantro, minced red onion, chopped scallions and toss with a fork to combine these ingredients with the bulgur. Add zest of 1 lemon, the juice and half of the olive oil. Toss again, taste for seasonings, add salt & pepper, another squeeze of lemon and more olive oil to balance the flavors to your taste.
3. Tabbouleh can be made a few hours ahead, covered in a bowl and refrigerated until ready to serve.
GRILLED EGGPLANT SLICES
If you can buy small "baby" eggplant of any variety, allow at least 4 halves of each small eggplant per serving. If you can buy the long Asian style purple eggplant which are larger, one per person should be sufficient. If you can only buy the large dark purple eggplant two wedge cut slices will be sufficient for each serving.
Cut small eggplant in half lengthwise (cut larger eggplant in half lengthwise, then in quarters, then into eights) Place pieces in a large 2 gallon size Zip Lock bag. Add ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, black pepper, good pinch of dried oregano. Seal the bag securely - toss the eggplant pieces in the olive oil and herb mixture to coat evenly.
Heat a stove top grill pan, or if you have an outdoor grill, heat to a medium heat - oil the pan or grill surface and grill the slices until grill marks appear on each side. When you can easily pierce a piece with a fork, they're done. Remove to a platter and reserve until serving time. Grilled eggplant is delicious when served at room temperature - or if you prefer them hot, heat eggplant slices in a non stick pan just before serving.
FRUIT, CHEESE and NUTS