Saturday, January 12, 2008
The Royal Foodie Joust for January is in full swing. This month's ingredients are lentils, eggplant and cinnamon. You can read all about these monthly jousts on the Foodie Forum.
My first vision of these ingredients had me visualizing a tajeen in Morocco with a simmering stew and the heavenly smell of African spices. Although this was only a mind's eye vision, I quickly snapped back to reality thinking that I had absolutely no clue what I was talking about. So rather than researching and testing and doing all the things that are common to my sensibility, I decided to create something that I've never seen in a cookbook (a little scary for me) and just go with the flow of what I would see as being spectacular.
Little did I know that while I was going into uncharted territory, I was also creating a dish that I think is as good if not better than anything I've had in a 5 star restaurant. It's a little time consuming .. okay it's alot time consuming but I'd make it again and I'm sure the second and third time I won't be writing down ingredients as I go along and I'll get it perfected. I totally shocked myself (in a very good way) - this is a killer delicious dish.
1 - 1 kilo (approx. 2 lbs) deboned leg of lamb rolled and tied (the butcher did this for me)
1 1/2 cups lentils (your choice of colour - I used brown)
1 tbsp olive oil
6 cloves fresh garlic
1 tbsp coriander
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp sea salt
2 cups full bodied wine (I used Yellow Jacket Shiraz)
250 gm (1 cup) dried apricots
1 good sized cinnamon stick
1/2 cup flour
3 tablespoons liquid honey
1. Cook lentils in a dutch oven (use 5 cups of water to 1 cup of lentils) Cook for about an hour or until soft. Half way through the process add peeled and diced eggplant to the dutch oven. When cooked, drain and allow to cool.
2. In mortar and pestle combine olive oil, garlic, coriander (I used the seeds), cumin, fennel seeds, salt and pepper. Make into a well combined paste.
3. Take 1/2 of the paste and rub well on the lamb
4. Reconstitute the apricots in a bowl with the wine and cinnamon
5. Mash the cooled lentils and eggplant and add beaten eggs and the second half of the spices to the mix. You want to form a good paste - if it's runny, add flour a little at a time until you get the desired consistency.
6. Encrust the lamb with the lentil/eggplant mix - it should adhere reasonably easily to the lamb (if it doesn't you haven't added enough flour)
7. Prepare roasting pan with a slight amount of olive oil. Dispose of cinnamon stick and add apricots and wine to roasting pan. (I poured some extra wine into the roasting pan to create a glaze)
8. Drizzle liquid honey over the crust - about 3 tablespoons
9. Add whatever roasting vegetables you like (I used fingerling potatoes)
10. Bake in 350 F oven (uncovered) for 60-70 minutes depending on how fast your oven is.