Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Recipe to go with Caduceus Chupacabra

While I'm waiting to get a chance to check out Harry's Hideaway and get ready for this weekend's winefest at the Cottonwood Airport, I thought I'd share tonight's dinner. Chupacabra wants big, rich, greasy heavily spiced flavors. Tonight we had a braised breast of lamb with a bottle of Chupacabra. Breast of lamb, if you can find it, is silly cheap. Less than two bucks a pound. I actually found mine at WalMart. Safeway, Fry's, Basha's all sell New Zealand or Australian lamb and only normally partially boned leg roasts. Maybe an occasional shank, but never breasts. WalMartWorld actually sells real American Lamb, and they have interesting cuts. I despise their beef, but hey, U.S. Lamb? My new favorite meat market. A whole two piece braised breast will feed 4. Be advised that you'd better like lamb fat; the breast is easily 50/50 fat to meat. The meat is tough as all get-out, until you braise it. After you braise it with vegetables for several hours, it falls off the bone and the vegetables turn into sort of a confit underneath it. A few slices of real tomatoes, or some melon, something acidic on the side in other words is all you need.
So take a breast, which will usually come in two pieces. Cut each piece in half making four pieces. In a big, heavy skillet that has an ovenproof lid, heat up a tiny bit of olive oil till it's almost smoking. Salt and pepper the meat and add it fat side down to the pan. Brown it until it's almost burnt or the smoke alarm goes off, whichever comes first. While it's browning, chop up a couple of carrots, at least a half head of celery, a big sweet onion and peel but do not chop 6-8 garlic cloves.  Also mince about 2 tablespoons each of fresh oregano, rosemary and sage. Preheat the oven to about 325.
When the lamb is brown on the fat side, flip it and brown that side. When it's brown, pour off some or all of the fat. Don't worry, there'll be plenty more. Sprinkle the minced spices evenly over the meat and add the chopped up vegetables, pushing them into the pan and around the meat pieces. Fill the skillet up to almost the top of the meat with red wine or stock but don't cover the meat. I use a half and half mixture of wine and chicken stock.
Turn the fire up to high and bring the pan to a full boil, then cover it and put it in the oven. Let it braise for about 2 and a half hours, checking it a couple of times to add more stock or wine as necessary to keep it moist. Serve a portion of the cooked down vegetables topped with one of the lamb pieces and whatever acidic side you've decided on. A simple salad would work well. Some chunks of ciabatta bread to mop up the glorious goop and you're all set. Chupacabra, Ray's Red, Javelina Leap's peppery Zinfandel; any of them will stand up well to this rich supper.