Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Sicilian Lamb

This dish acquires it's roots from so many different places.  As with many Sicilian, and Italian dishes in general, there are always variations on the general theme.  I first watch my Grandmother make this, and then recently when a Chef friend of mine created something similar, I decided to put pen to paper as it were. 
 
Sicilians eat lots of lamb and Sicilian cuisine often uses unique blends of ingredients that hail from Greece, Northern Africa, and Italy.  That stems from the fact that Sicily is the most conquered place in the world. That influence has created a unique cuisine that existed for centuries long before the term "fusion" was fashionable. 
 

Sicilian Lamb

1 Box Long Grain Wild Rice w/ Pine Nuts (I had Uncle Ben's)
2 pounds boneless leg of lamb steaks
1 Poblano
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Sweet Onion
1 package White Mushrooms
4 cloves garlic
1 salt packed anchovy, rinsed, spine mercilessly ripped out
2 dried red chiles
1/3 cup San Marzano Passata
Splash Dry White Wine

Pat the meat dry and sear it quickly, but ensuring that the meat is still raw.   Set aside.

These are the Lamb Steaks.  Ask your butcher for these if you don't see them. Each piece was about the size of my palm and about an inch thick.  They were easy to sear and keep raw in the middle.

Next, start the base of your dish. In the pan where you seared the meat, add the chiles, garlic and anchovy along with a tablespoon of olive oil and saute until fragrant.  Once these soften, deglaze with white wine.  Add the onion, the peppers, and the mushrooms and saute until cooked. 


This is the base before deglazing.  I wanted to show the amount of dried chiles and the texture of the anchovy.  Yes, this dish is somewhat spicy!

Here is the Condimento:  The vegetables sauteing along with the San Marzano Passata that has been added.  The Passata is already thick, but you want to cook it down a little, so it incorporates and doesn't taste "raw"

Before finishing the dish, make sure your rice is finished and ready to go. Simply cook it to the instructions on the box. Once the vegetables are cooked and the passata incorporated, you're ready to finish the meat.   Slice the meat length wise into strips and return to the pot.  They will cook very rapidly as the vegetable and liquid are very hot.  Be careful not to overcook the meat.  Well done lamb is awful and you want it rare.  It will barely take 1 minute to finish the meat. 


~ Spread the Rice on a Serving Platter and Top with the Lamb & Vegetables. ~

The Chef's Plate:  As I mentioned, this dish was Spicy. Between the Poblano and the Dried Chiles, the flavors were surely assertive.  You can alter that to your own taste.
 
So the question becomes, what to drink with this?  Whenever in doubt, I try to stay as local as possible when pairing wine with a meal.  If you eliminate the heat in this dish, you could pair it with most any red wine. Otherwise, it would be best to open a spicy wine, or at least a wine with lots of fruit to counterbalance the heat of the dish.
 
I didn't have any Sicilian wine handy, so I pulled a wine from Sardinia. The cuisine is very similar to Sicily, so I was confident in the pairing.
 
The 2008 Argiolas Korem is no stranger to my readers.  I've enjoyed it a few times, and written about it before.  What impresses me most about this indigenous blend is it's remarkable consistency.  It has been excellent every time I've opened a bottle and displays remarkable concentration, class and precision to the flavors and aromas.  In fact, my rating is as consistent as the wine itself.  94 points, about $30 and a can't miss!
 

~ Korem is a blend of  Bovale Sardo, (60%) Carignano (20%) & Cannonau (20%) grapes from the Sa Tanca vineyard ~

4 comments:

  1. Looks like a fantastic simple dish!! I think I'm gonna cook that for tonight.. As for wine pairing, what you would think of Tenuta Sette Ponti Crognolo 2009?

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  2. Hi Raphael,

    Absolutely will work! As I said, if you tone down or eliminate the heat, almost any red wine will work. I think Crognolo will display enough spice and rich fruit that it will hold up.

    When you've got too full bodied a red, spicy food can make the wine taste metallic - or worse, it accentuates the heat of the alcohol.

    Let me know how you make out.

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  3. John, as usual, food and wine for the soul!
    Thanks, Dennis

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  4. Thanks Dennis. If you love lamb, this recipe is a no brainer and very easy to do. I'd dial down the heat a bit next time. That Poblano was hot!

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