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On the lamb — 16 recipes for spring

Daniel Neman, St. Louis Post-Dispatch on

Published in Entertaining

TURKISH LAMB WITH EGGPLANT

Yield: 4 servings

3 medium eggplants, about 3 pounds total

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 1/2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 medium yellow onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon salt

3 medium tomatoes, diced, or 1 (28-ounce) can good-quality tomatoes, diced

2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves, chopped, or 1/2 teaspoon dried

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup milk

3 1/2 ounces freshly grated Turkish kasseri cheese or provolone

1/2 cup lat-leaf parsley, chopped, for garnish

1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges, for serving

Cooked bulgur, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Pierce the eggplants a few times with a knife and put on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until dark and completely soft, about 1 hour, flipping halfway through. Let rest until cool enough to handle.

3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add the lamb, onion, garlic and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is softened and the meat is browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, oregano and cinnamon. Cover and simmer until the sauce is silky an the meat is tender, about 50 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. (The meat can be cooked 1 day ahead, and the flavor will improve. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Reheat before proceeding).

4. Scoop the eggplant flesh into a blender or food processor, discarding the skin. Process until finely puréed.

5. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring with a spatula, until foamy. Add the puréed eggplant, then stir the milk in slowly. Cook until thickened, a few more minutes. Remove from heat and fold in the kasseri or provolone. Taste and adjust the seasoning. (You can prepare the eggplant sauce up to 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate, and reheat before serving).

6. Scoop the sauce onto plates, top with meat and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately, with lemon wedges to squeeze and bulgur on the side.

Per serving: 582 calories; 30 g fat; 10g saturated fat; 129 mg cholesterol; 46 g protein; 37 g carbohydrate; 16 g sugar; 14 g fiber; 938 mg sodium; 285 mg calcium

Recipe from “Tasting Paris: 100 Recipes to Eat Like a Local,” by Clotilde Dusoulier

LAMB WITH MUSTARD AND HONEY

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

5 pounds boneless leg of lamb

3 tablespoons strong Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons dried thyme

1 teaspoon fine salt

Crunchy salt such as fleur de sel, optional

Black pepper, optional

Note: This dish marinates overnight.

1. Carefully remove large deposits of visible fat from the lamb, if there are any.

2. In a small bowl, mix together the mustard, honey, thyme and the 1 teaspoon of salt. Use this mixture to coat both sides of the lamb. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

3. If grilling: Grill, covered, over indirect heat for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a meat thermometer registers 140 degrees for medium rare (it will continue to cook once it is off the grill until it reaches the desired medium-rare temperature of 145 degrees. The final temperature for medium is 160 degrees and well done is 170 degrees). If using a 3- to 4-pound lamb shoulder, cook for 35 to 45 minutes.

4. If roasting in the oven: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Roast a boneless leg of lamb (uncovered) for 20 minutes per pound for medium rare, 25 minutes per pound for medium or 30 minutes for well done. For a boneless shoulder, roast uncovered for 35 minutes per pound for medium rare, 40 minutes for medium or 45 minutes for well done.

5. Allow to rest at least 5 minutes before carving. Sprinkle with fleur de sel and pepper, if desired.

Per serving (based on 10): 497 calories; 33 g fat; 14 g saturated fat; 155 mg cholesterol; 43 g protein; 4 g carbohydrate; 4 g sugar; 0 g fiber; 160 mg sodium; 24 mg calcium

Adapted from “Tasting Paris,” by Clotilde Dusoulier

ROGAN JOSH

Yield: 4 servings

1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped

8 cloves garlic, peeled

1 1/2 cups water, divided

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 pounds boned lamb shoulder or leg, cut into 1-inch cubes

10 whole cardamom pods

2 bay leaves

6 whole cloves

10 whole black peppercorns

1 stick cinnamon

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 teaspoon ground coriander

2 teaspoons ground cumin

4 teaspoons paprika, hot or sweet

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

1 teaspoon salt, to taste

6 tablespoons plain yogurt

1/4 teaspoon garam masala

1 dash fresh ground black pepper

1. Put the ginger, garlic and 1/4 cup water in a blender, and blend well into a smooth paste.

2. Heat oil in a wide, heavy pot over medium-hot heat. Brown meat cubes in several batches and set aside. Put the cardamom, bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns and cinnamon into the same hot oil. Stir once and wait until cloves swell and the bay leaves begin to take on color, which will only take a few seconds.

3. Add onions and sauté 5 minutes or until they turn a medium-brown color. Add ginger-garlic paste from blender and stir for 30 seconds. Add coriander, cumin, paprika, cayenne (if using) and salt; stir another 30 seconds. Add browned meat cubes and their juices. Add 1 tablespoon of the yogurt and stir 30 seconds until yogurt is well blended. Add the remaining yogurt, 1 tablespoon at a time in the same way. Sauté for another 3 to 4 minutes.

4. Add remaining 1 1/4 cups of water and bring to a boil, scraping in all the browned spices on the sides and bottom of the pot. Cover, turn the heat to low and simmer 1 hour or until meat is tender. Stir every 10 minutes while cooking to prevent burning.

5. When the meat is tender, remove the lid, turn the heat to medium-high and boil off some of the liquid, stirring all the time, until the sauce is thickened. Remove bay leaves, cardamom pods, cloves and peppercorns. Skim off the red oil on top, if desired, before serving. Sprinkle the garam masala and black pepper over the dish and mix them in just before you serve it.

Per serving: 450 calories; 30 g fat; 11 g saturated fat; 126 mg cholesterol; 36 g protein; 8 g carbohydrate; 2 g sugar; 2 g fiber; 688 mg sodium; 77 mg calcium.

Recipe adapted from “Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking,” by Madhur Jaffrey

SMOKED-BRAISED LAMB SHANKS WITH ASIAN SEASONINGS

Yield: 2 servings

2 lamb shanks, 11/4 to 11/2 pounds each

1 to 2 cups water

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup rice wine (shaoxing), sake or sherry

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

3 tablespoons Asian (dark) sesame oil

4 strips orange or tangerine zest, 1/2 inch-by-1 1/2 inches

3 whole star anise, or 1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder

2 cinnamon sticks, 3 inches long

1. Using a sharp, slender instrument such as the probe of an instant-read thermometer, pierce each shank all over, about 20 times. Place the shanks in a large aluminum foil pan.

2. Place the water, soy sauce, rice wine, brown sugar and sesame oil in a bowl and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Add the orange zest, star anise and cinnamon sticks. Pour over the lamb.

3. Meanwhile, set up your smoker according to the manufacturer’s instructions and preheat to 225 to 250 degrees. Add the wood as specified by the manufacturer.

4. Place foil pan containing the lamb and its braising liquid in the smoker. Smoke until the lamb is dark brown and very tender, 8 to 10 hours. Turn the shanks with tongs every 30 minutes so they brown evenly. Add water as needed (1 to 2 cups) to keep the liquid level over 1/2 inch. Try not to add any water during the last 30 minutes or so to avoid diluting the sauce. Add fuel and wood as needed.

5. When ready, the lamb will have shrunk back from the end of the bone and will be tender enough to pull apart with your fingers. The internal temperature on a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the shank, but not touching the bone, will be 195 degrees.

6. Transfer the lamb to a platter or plates. Skim any visible fat off the braising liquid and strain it over the shanks as a sauce.

Per serving (using all the sauce): 699 calories; 31 g fat; 7 g saturated fat; 78 mg cholesterol; 25 g protein; 62 g carbohydrate; 62 g sugar; no fiber; 5,096 mg sodium; 68 mg calcium.

Recipe from “Project Smoke” by Steven Raichlen.

LAMB TAGINE WITH GREEN OLIVES AND LEMON

Yield: 8 servings

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

5 garlic cloves, minced

2 (2 1/2-inch) strips of lemon zest

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons sweet paprika

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Pinch of saffron threads, crumbled

1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick

1 tablespoon kosher salt

3 1/2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces

4 cups water

6 large carrots, thinly sliced

1 onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

2 cups pitted green Picholine olives, rinsed

1 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1 cup cilantro, chopped

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1. In a large bowl, mix the olive oil, garlic, lemon zest, ginger, paprika, coriander, cumin, black pepper, cayenne, cloves, saffron, cinnamon stick and salt. Add the lamb and toss to coat. Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.

2. Put the lamb and spices into a tagine or medium enameled cast-iron casserole; discard the lemon zest. Add the water, carrots and onion, and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat until the lamb is very tender, about 2 hours.

3. Spoon off any fat from the broth. Stir in the olives, season with salt and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley, cilantro and lemon juice. Serve with couscous.

Per serving: 478 calories; 31 g fat; 8 g saturated fat; 107 mg cholesterol; 13 g protein; 13 g carbohydrate; 4 g sugar; 3 g fiber; 2,018 mg sodium; 82 mg calcium.

Recipe from Food & Wine

SALT-CRUSTED LAMB

Yield: 6 servings

1 boneless leg of lamb

6 to 8 sprigs of fresh rosemary, divided

2 tablespoons oil

Black pepper

2 tablespoons grainy mustard

5 pounds coarse salt

3 to 4 sprigs fresh thyme

2 tablespoons lavender

5 to 10 egg whites, as needed

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a large baking pan or baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.

2. Place 3 to 4 sprigs of rosemary in the middle of the lamb where the bone had been and then roll the lamb back around it. For best results, tie the lamb together with 3 or 4 lengths of twine. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add oil. When the oil begins to shimmer, sear the lamb until browned all over. Remove lamb, season with black pepper and spread the mustard over it.

3. Pour salt into a very large bowl. Coarsely chop the thyme and the remaining 3 or 4 sprigs of rosemary and add to the salt. Add the lavender. Add 5 egg whites and mix with your hands (it’s more fun than a spoon) until thoroughly combined. The salt should be wetter than damp, but dryer than moist. If it is too dry, add more egg whites.

4. Place the lamb on the prepared baking pan or baking sheet and cover all exposed areas with the salt, compacting it by hand to form a shell. Bake about an hour for medium rare, longer for more well done. Lamb is medium rare at 145 degrees, but bear in mind that the meat will continue to cook after it is removed from the oven, especially while it is still in the salt shell.

5. When the lamb is done, use a hammer or rolling pin to crack open the salt crust. Remove the crust and the twine, if used, and cut the lamb into slices.

Per serving: 631 calories; 42 g fat; 16 g saturated fat; 211 mg cholesterol; 58 g protein; 1 g carbohydrate; no sugar; no fiber; 270 mg sodium; 27 mg calcium.

Adapted from a recipe by Olivier Berté

LAMB CURRY WITH LENTILS

Yield: 6 servings

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, fat removed, cut into 2-inch pieces

1 cup chopped onions

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons minced ginger root

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup diced tomatoes

1/4 cup dried red lentils

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1/2 cup beef stock

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 cup chopped cilantro or parsley

4 cups hot cooked basmati rice

1. In a pressure cooker, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add lamb in batches and cook until browned. Transfer to a bowl. set aside.

2. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion, garlic, ginger, curry powder, salt, cumin, cloves, cardamom and pepper; sauté 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add tomatoes; cook for 1 minute. Stir in lentils, coconut milk, beef stock, lemon juice and lamb with any accumulated juices.

3. Lock lid into place and bring cooker up to full pressure over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low (if using an electric stove, move pot to a different element set to medium low), just to maintain even pressure, and cook 15 minutes. Remove from heat and turn off electric cooker or run stove-top cooker under cold water to quickly release pressure. Stir in cilantro. Serve over rice.

Per serving: 446 calories; 20 g fat; 12 g saturated fat; 65 mg cholesterol; 25 g protein; 40 g carbohydrate; 3 g sugar; 4 g fiber; 693 mg sodium; 50 mg calcium

SICHUAN LAMB CHOPS WITH CILANTRO CHIMICHURRI

Yield: 4 servings

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup oil

 

3 tablespoons sherry

5 garlic cloves, divided, minced

8 lamb chops or 1 rack, frenched

4 tablespoons cumin seeds

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns

2 tablespoons salt

1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes plus optional 1/4 teaspoon

1 cup cilantro

1/2 lime, juiced

2 tablespoons jalapeño, chopped

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1/3 cup olive oil

1. Mix soy sauce, oil, sherry and 4 of the minced garlic cloves. Add lamb chops (cut into 4 pieces if using a rack of lamb) and marinate in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours.

2. Toast cumin and coriander seeds by placing them in a hot skillet over medium-high heat; shake the pan frequently until the seeds are aromatic, about 1 minute. Pour out the seeds and add peppercorns to the pan; toast in the same manner until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Grind all the seeds in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Add salt and optional crushed red pepper flakes and sprinkle liberally over lamb.

3. Heat grill or a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook lamb until done, an internal temperature of 140 degrees for medium rare. Allow to rest 5 minutes before serving with the cilantro chimichurri sauce.

4. To make the chimichurri sauce, place in a blender the cilantro, lime juice, jalapeño, rice vinegar, remaining 1 minced clove garlic and remaining pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, and blend. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil. Season to taste with salt.

Per serving: 654 calories; 54 g fat; 13g saturated fat; 108 mg cholesterol; 31 g protein; 8 g carbohydrate; 2 g sugar; 1 g fiber; 4,833 mg sodium; 107 mg calcium.

Recipe from food52.com

IRISH STEW

Yield: 8 servings

3 pounds deboned, lean lamb shoulder, cut into 2-inch pieces

1 1/2 cups sliced onions

1 cup sliced leeks

1 cup sliced celery

3 sprigs thyme

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 1/2 quarts chicken stock

16 small potatoes, peeled

1 1/2 cups carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1. In a pot large enough to hold lamb, cover pieces with cold water. Bring to a boil. Boil 10 minutes. Drain, and cool under cold water.

2. In a 4-quart pot, layer the meat, onions, leeks, celery and thyme. Season with salt and pepper, and cover with stock. Simmer 1 hour, adding potatoes and carrots after 30 minutes. Skim stew periodically to remove fat. When cooked, sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Per serving: 503 calories; 15 g fat; 5 g saturated fat; 121 mg cholesterol; 45 g protein; 45 g carbohydrate; 9 g sugar; 6 g fiber; 626 mg sodium; 76 mg calcium

Recipe from “Elegant Irish Cooking,” by Noel C. Cullen

MEDITERRANEAN LAMB

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

1 (4-pound) boneless leg of lamb

Salt

Black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoons ground ginger

1. Unroll and pat dry the leg of lamb. Season generously on both sides with salt and pepper.

2. In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, onion, garlic, cumin and ginger. Roll the lamb in the bowl to coat all sides, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight.

3. Prepare a hot grill for indirect heat. Cook on the part of the grill away from the heat, covered, for 1 hour or until cooked medium rare or medium (140 to 160 degrees). Remove from heat and cover loosely with foil and allow to rest at least 20 to 30 minutes before carving and serving.

Per serving (based on 10): 360 calories; 23 g fat; 7.5 g saturated fat; 120 mg cholesterol; 36 g protein; 1 g carbohydrate; 0.5 g sugar; no fiber; 90 mg sodium; 20 mg calcium.

Recipe by Daniel Neman

SPICED LAMB AND BEEF KEBABS (LULA KEBABS)

Yield: 4 servings

1 pound lean ground lamb

1 pound lean ground beef, such as round or sirloin

1 small onion, grated

1 to 2 serrano peppers or bird chiles, seeded and minced

1 large egg, beaten

3 tablespoons minced fresh dill, or 1 tablespoon dried

3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

2 teaspoons salt, or more to taste

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin, or more to taste

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1. Combine the lamb, beef, onion, peppers, egg, dill, cilantro, salt, pepper, cumin and turmeric in a large bowl. Knead and squeeze the mixture with your hands until thoroughly blended, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large heavy skillet and set over very low heat. Cook the meat mixture just until it is warmed through, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Remove meat mixture from the heat and let stand until completely cooled.

2. To test the meat mixture for seasoning, cook a small amount in a nonstick skillet until cooked through, then taste, adding more salt and/or cumin to the remaining mixture as necessary; it should be highly seasoned.

3. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water at least 30 minutes. Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap. Divide the meat mixture into 8 equal portions. Lightly wet your hands with cold water. Then, starting about 1 inch from the tip, mold each portion around a skewer to form a flattish sausage that is 8 to 10 inches long and 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide. Using the first two fingers of one hand in a scissors fashion, make a series of shallow ridges across the length of the sausage. As it is made, place each kebab on the prepared baking sheet, then cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or as long as overnight.

4. Set up the grill for high heat, and brush and oil it. Grill the kebabs over direct heat, turning with tongs, until they are nicely browned and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes in all. Serve at once.

Per serving: 344 calories; 17 g fat; 7 g saturated fat; 180 mg cholesterol; 44 g protein; 3 g carbohydrate; 1 g sugar; 1 g fiber; 1,329 mg sodium; 44 mg calcium.

Recipe from “The Barbecue! Bible,” by Steven Raichlen

CASSEROLE OF LAMB AND EGGPLANT WITH GARLIC

Yield: 6 servings

2 3/4 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces, or lamb stew meat

Salt

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed, divided

2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced

2 pounds eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

1 cup chicken stock

1 bouquet garni (1 branch fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, 6 parsley stems and 1 bay leaf tied in a bundle with kitchen string or cheesecloth)

Black pepper

3/4 cup bread crumbs

3 large garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons butter

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Sprinkle the pieces of lamb with salt. In a cast-iron or heavy skillet, heat 1/2 cup of the oil over medium heat. Add the pieces of lamb to the oil in batches, brown them all over, 5 to 7 minutes per batch, then transfer to a large casserole.

3. Add the onions to the same pan and cook, stirring, until they are tinged with brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add them to the lamb in the casserole. In the same skillet, brown the eggplant in batches with a little salt and add it to the lamb. Add oil while cooking the eggplant if it looks too dry.

4. Pour the stock into the lamb casserole and tuck in the bouquet garni. Transfer the casserole to the oven and bake, uncovered, until the lamb is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Stir the mixture 2 or 3 times while cooking. Discard the bouquet garni. Add pepper and taste for seasoning. (The casserole can be cooked to this point a day or two ahead and chilled. Reheat, covered, in a 350 degree oven before proceeding).

5. While the lamb cooks, make the topping. Add the bread crumbs to a food processor and slice in the garlic. Pulse until the garlic is coarsely chopped. Add the parsley and pulse until everything is finely chopped. In a pan, melt the butter with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the bread-crumb mixture and stir until evenly coated with the butter.

6. Heat the broiler. Sprinkle the topping over the lamb mixture. Put the casserole on an oven rack so the topping is about 2 inches from the heat and broil until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Watch carefully and turn the casserole as necessary to the topping browns evenly and doesn’t burn. Serve as soon as possible.

Per serving: 561 calories; 41 g fat; 12 g saturated fat; 88 mg cholesterol; 26 g protein; 23 g carbohydrate; 8 g sugar; 6 g fiber; 384 mg sodium; 69 mg calcium

Adapted from “Backroad Bistros, Farmhouse Fare: A French Country Cookbook,” by Jane Sigal

SPICY KÖFTE SIMMERED WITH EGGPLANT, TOMATOES AND ROASTED POBLANOS

Yield 4 servings

1 pound ground lamb (or turkey)

1/2 onion, minced

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided

Salt and black pepper

8 small Japanese eggplants or 4 very small American eggplants

2 large poblanos or 4 Hungarian green peppers or tender long green peppers

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions

4 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped

2 teaspoons minced garlic

Splash of vinegar

1. Combine the lamb, onion, cumin, pepper flakes and 1/2 cup of the parsley in a bowl. Mix thoroughly and season with salt and pepper. Divide into 8 equal portions. Shape each into a flattened, sausage-shaped patty, 6 inches long and 1/4 inch thick. Set aside.

2. Remove the tops of the eggplants. Beginning at the stem side, cut each one through the center lengthwise, stopping 1 inch from the other end. If using American eggplants, cut out a slice at least 1-inch wide from the middle, stopping 1 inch from the bottom end, and discard. Place 1 patty in each Japanese eggplant — or 2 in each American eggplant —between the two separated halves. Place the eggplants side by side in a large shallow pan.

3. Meanwhile, roast the peppers directly over a gas flame or charcoal grill, turning frequently until charred all over. (Alternatively, preheat oven to 400 degrees, line a baking sheet with foil, place peppers on the prepared baking sheet and roast 20 minutes, turn peppers over and roast another 20 minutes until charred and somewhat deflated). Transfer charred peppers to a plastic bag to steam for 20 minutes. Peel the peppers, top, seed and halve them. If you use Hungarian peppers or tender, long, green peppers, leave them whole.

4. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and cook the onions 8 minutes until they begin to brown around the edges. Stir in the tomatoes and garlic, and simmer them, mashing down with a fork until they form a sauce, about 5 minutes or so. Remove from heat and add the remaining 1/2 cup parsley, season with salt, pepper and a splash of vinegar. The sauce should have a slight tang. Pour this sauce over the eggplants along with 1/4 cup of water. Place the peppers on top, cover and simmer about 35 to 40 minutes, until the eggplants are very tender. Check occasionally and add a little water if necessary. Serve hot.

Per serving: 512 calories; 23 g fat; 7 g saturated fat; 70 mg cholesterol; 28 g protein; 57 g carbohydrate; 32 g sugar; 25 g fiber; 676 mg sodium; 147 mg calcium

Adapted from Classical Turkish Cooking,” by Ayla Algar

MOUSSAKA

Yield: 8 servings

1/4 cup dried currants

1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 pound ground lamb

1 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

Salt and black pepper, to taste

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, stemmed, cored and finely chopped

1 cup red wine

1 1/2 cups canola oil

1 1/2 pound eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices

1 large russet potato, about 1 pound, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

21/4 cups milk

1 bay leaf

Freshly ground nutmeg, to taste

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

3 egg yolks

1 cup grated parmesan

1. Put currants into a small bowl and cover with boiling water; let soften for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside. Purée the tomatoes in a blender and set aside.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a 6-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add the lamb, cayenne, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring to break up the meat, until browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer lamb to a large strainer set over a bowl and drain; discard any liquid left in the pot.

3. Return the pot to the heat and add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil along with the garlic, onions and bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost evaporated, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the reserved tomatoes, currants and lamb, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened, about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

4. Heat the canola oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, add the eggplant slices and fry, turning occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer slices to paper towels. Working in batches, add the potatoes and cook until tender, about 5 minutes, and transfer to paper towels.

5. Make a béchamel sauce: Melt butter in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until pale and smooth, about 2 minutes. Whisking constantly, add the milk in a steady stream until incorporated; add the bay leaf and cook, whisking often, until reduced to 2 cups, about 15 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and discard the bay leaf. Let sauce cool for 5 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt and egg yolks and whisk into the sauce until smooth.

6. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place the reserved potato slices in the bottom of a 3-quart baking dish (or two 11/2-quart baking dishes) and season with salt and pepper. Put the eggplant slices on top, season with salt and pepper, and then cover with the meat sauce. Pour the béchamel over the top of the meat sauce and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle parmesan evenly over the top and bake until browned and bubbly, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool for at least 20 minutes before serving.

Per serving: 657 calories; 48 g fat; 16 g saturated fat; 144 mg cholesterol; 22 g protein; 63 g carbohydrate; 14 g sugar; 5 g fiber; 394 mg sodium; 298 mg calcium

Recipe by Jim Botsacos of Molyvos restaurant, via Saveur

QUICK-BRAISED LAMB

Yield: 1 serving

1 lamb shoulder chop, about 8 ounces with bone

1/3 cup red wine

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 clove garlic, peeled and lightly crushed

3 mushrooms, sliced thick

Pinch rosemary

1. Season lamb with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, whisk together wine and mustard. Set aside.

2. Put oil in skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the lamb and sear well on both sides.

3. Remove lamb to a plate and discard garlic. Add mushrooms to the hot oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. If necessary, add a little more oil to keep the mushrooms from sticking. Sauté until mushrooms are brown and have released their liquid.

4. Pour in the wine-mustard mixture, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits from the pan. Return the lamb to the pan, and sprinkle the rosemary over both the meat and the liquid. Lower the temperature to medium low, cover the pan and simmer until the meat is done, 10 to 15 minutes.

5. Remove lamb to your serving plate and keep warm. Simmer or lightly boil the sauce to reduce it by one-third, until it is slightly syrupy.

Per serving: 409 calories; 26 g fat; 8 g saturated fat; 84 mg cholesterol; 23 g protein; 6 g carbohydrate; 2 g sugar; no fiber; 177 mg sodium; 35 mg calcium.

Recipe by Daniel Neman

 

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