Mezcal Braised Lamb


So, it’s been a couple weeks since my last recipe post. I got super solo lazy and relied on my freezer and microwave to feed myself. But hey, frozen burritos have come a long way and you just can’t beat a simple sandwich or a quick bowl of ramen with a hearty spoonful of miso paste. When I found out the wife’s hospital project was pushed back another week though, I decided to cook up a lamb dish, as she has no palette for its wild flavor. So, win-win for me.

Most of the lamb dishes I’ve had are smothered in rich gravy, like Vindaloo, but I wanted to try my hand at something a little bit different. So, I bought a small bottle of Mezcal, green chilies, and polenta. It’s finally starting to feel a little more like fall this week and the braised, rich lamb and spicy polenta really hit the spot.

Ingredients

1 boneless leg of lamb

1 cup Mezcal

1 cup stock

1 cup tomatoes, quartered

1/2 sweet onion, quartered

4 cloves garlic

2 tbsp dried Mexican Oregano

1 tsp cumin seeds

2 tbsp cumin powder

2 tbsp chili powder

2 tbsp smoked paprika

1/4 cup neutral oil

1 tbsp honey

generous amounts of salt and pepper

Method

Preheat oven to 225 degrees.

Mix together in a prep bowl the oil, cumin, chili, and smoked paprika powder. Stir in the salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside.

Preheat a cast iron skillet over high flame until very hot. Lightly salt and pepper the lamb on all sides and sear in the skillet until all sides are golden brown. Remove the lamb to a clean surface.

Deglaze the skillet with the Mezcal and hard simmer until the alcohol cooks off. Turn off the flame. Add in the stock, tomatoes, Mexican oregano, cumin seeds, onion, and garlic.

Brush the seasoned oil all over the lamb until it is well coated. Add back to the skillet and drizzle with the honey. Carefully transfer to the oven and slow cook the lamb 6 – 8 hours or until the lamb is very tender and the internal temperature reaches at least 145 degrees.

Optional: to finish the lamb, turn up the oven to 350 degrees until an outside bark is achieved, about 15 – 20 minutes. I like a nice bark on my roasts, but it isn’t for everyone.

Remove the lamb from the oven and allow it to rest at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Serve with Green Chili Polenta and a generous ladle of the pan juices, if desired.

Green Chili Polenta

Ingredients

1 cup polenta

3 cups water or stock

2 hot long green chilies or poblanos, trimmed and diced

1/4 cup cheddar, smoked gouda, or Cotija cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Method

Bring the water and diced chilies up to a boil in a medium soup pot over high flame. Once boiling, add salt, pepper, and the one cup of polenta. Reduce flame to low and simmer until the polenta is tender and creamy, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Turn off the flame and stir in the cheese, if using. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Serve immediately.

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