I typically plan my meals quite loosely. Once a week I pick a few cuts of grass fed beef from the freezer, maybe a pack of chicken thighs or breasts, plus whatever we bring from the store. Usually it’s a slab of wild fish or a cut of lamb. Throughout the week, I couple the protein-de-jour with vegetables and, with some luck, things work out into a decent dinner.
When we have lamb for dinner, I am not very creative, because there is never a need for me to enhance the flavor — I love lamb in any shape or form. But, as it usually happens (with me anyway), one day you stare at all too familiar cut and think to yourself, “Gosh, am I really going to always cook it the same way? I mean, really?” And this is when things start happening. Things like this one below. Things that you wish would happen to you a bit more frequently.
So ladies and gentlemen, with a bit less than one hour to showtime and one main ingredient in full view, I ironcheffed1 my dinner. You may think I watch too much TV, but I really don’t. I just happened to watch one episode of The Next Iron Chef last night. The creativity, stamina and ingenuity of these people can be truly intimidating to an average home kitchen warrior like myself. But I pulled myself together and did it. And what I did I liked.
Amidst all the smoke and noise, I managed to also produce a batch of very agreeable sweet potato fries cooked in tallow. I couldn’t eat them myself, because, you know, low carbs and all, but a Panel of Sweet Potato Fries Experts (PSPFE), after reviewing them thoroughly, and then reviewing them again, agreed that they came very close to the restaurant version. I’ll take their word for it.
1 – ironcheffing: a culinary term meaning whipping up at least two completely unfamiliar dishes in a limited amount of time and space, with limited ingredients, while simultaneously trying to keep an eye on the kid and keep the house smoke free, because exhaust fan is not working right. Outcomes range from disgusting to spectacular. Your results may vary.
Spinach Stuffed Lamb Cutlets
- 1 lb lamb, cut into 1″ cubes
- 1/3 red onion, cubed
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tsp Worcestershire or soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp Garam Masala spice mix
- coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- about 3-4 cups of loosely packed fresh spinach leaves
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp butter
- 2 oz crumbled Feta or Blue cheese, such as Gorgonzola or similar
- juice of 1 lemon
Place an oven proof skillet in the oven and heat the oven to 500°F.
Put first six ingredients in a processor and grind until smooth and uniform farce develops.
Fold the farce out into a bowl, add salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Set aside
Melt 1 tbsp butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add spinach and cook for a minute or so, until wilted and dark. This should yield about 1 cup of cooked spinach. Remove from heat and let cool.
When spinach is cool enough to handle, divide the meat into 3 or 4 equal parts. Form large meat balls.
Work on a surface of a large plate — the meat won’t stick to it and will be easier to handle.
Pat the meat ball down, forming a pancake, about 3/8″ thick. Place some spinach in the middle, and top it with a portion of the crumbled cheese. See photo for details.
Wrap the meat around the spinach stuffing, closing the seams all over. Wet your fingers to smooth the meat over. Repeat with the remaining meat balls and spinach.
Turn the stove on high. Place the heated skillet on the stove. Add about 1 tsp of butter just to grease the surface, and immediately put all cutlets in the skillet. They will brown very quickly — in about 30 seconds or so. Using a sharp spatula, turn the cutlets a few times to brown on all sides.
Reduce the oven temperature to 450°F and place the skillet with cutlets in the oven. Cook for 5 minutes, turn cutlets over, cook for another 5 minutes.
Squeeze the lemon juice onto the cutlets and return into the oven. Cook for another 10 minutes or so, or until juices run clear.
Remove from the oven and serve hot on a bed of fresh greens salad, with some flat bread, olives and a slice of lemon, if desire.