Lamb Braised in Milk

Lamb Braised in Milk

Okay — this one I really went off the reservation. I had some lamb shoulder that I needed to use up, especially since this year’s lamb should be ready soon (I need to check with my dog groomer/lamb rancher when I take the dogs for shots on Tuesday). And as I’ve noted, I have a glut of milk — especially since my first delivery was Thursday, but I’m going to be on the Tuesday delivery from now on — which means I didn’t have a lot of time to use up a gallon of milk over the weekend.

So, I was cruising my cookbooks trying to figure out what to cook — I’d seen recipes for pork braised in milk, but it wasn’t until I saw that Mario had one for lamb that it all kind of came together. Mario’s recipe, which I’m sure is totally authentic and delicious called for the lamb to be browned in a spice mixture of fennel seeds, garlic and parsley. Hmm. I’m not wild about fennel seeds. And Pork and Sons has a pork in milk recipe with garlic and sage that looked sort of good. And then I had a vague recollection of Adam at Amateur Gourmet doing a pork in milk that had lemon peel.

So, with apologies to Mario, I sort of used his process as a guide and experimented. I put some sage, rosemary, thyme, and parsley from my garden in the mini-chop with some good local garlic and whizzed it all up. Then I started to brown up the lamb in the spice mixture, but I decided I didn’t actually want too “brown” a flavor in this — one of the things that seems kind of interesting about the pork with milk recipe in Pork and Sons is that you just put it all in a casserole and cook it in the oven without browning. So — I pulled the plug on browning, and added half a cup of cream and a cup of milk from last week’s delivery, along with three or four nice strips of lemon rind, a generous handfull of coarse grey salt and put the whole thing in the oven at 300 for two hours.

On the side I roasted some local potatoes and some carrots from my garden, and then I sauteed up some Seeds of Italy mixed endives that were getting leggy (they were a little too bitter, but made a great cream soup the next day with the leftover carrots and potatoes).

This came out great — but Mario was right (duh), I should have browned off the meat in the first step. By the end the milk cooks down into this slighly odd, slightly cheesy, but delicious sauce. The meat was wonderfully tender, and all those herbs really worked. It also made a great pasta sauce the next night with a little homemade tomato sauce added and then gratined under the broiler for a few moments. It was an interesting way to cook meat and one I’ll probably do again — it’s delicious, easy to remember, and works even better as leftovers.

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