February 23, 2010

Week 1: Lamb and Beans

Sometime last week, Emily decided that I should start cooking a new dish every weekend. Since both my to-do list and my cookbook collection have been growing way too fast, I agreed. Last weekend we had our first installment.

After a busy week at work, I didn't really put much effort into research. One morning I flagged a bunch of recipes in Michael Symon's book, and Emily followed up with a bunch in the Café Boulud Cookbook. I flipped through her choices and settled on a "Lamb Haricots" dish from the Café Boulud book. I like lamb and beans, and Emily doesn't usually go for stewed or braised dishes, so I thought I'd give it a try.

I was a little uncomfortable with the recipe after I started putting it together. It seemed to call for way too much liquid: 10 cups of liquid for 1 cup of soaked, dried beans, double-sealed in pot. Yet the instructions mention the possibility of needing more liquid. Also, the vegetables were to be cut in large chunks, but there was no mention of either removing or plating them.

After almost two hours in the oven, I uncovered the dish, hoping to reduce the liquid a little. At about the two hour mark, I ended up pulling the lamb; it was super tender, and I didn't want it to fall apart. The beans weren't done, so I gave them another 30–45 minutes. I still wasn't happy with the beans, but the broth was good. At this point it was getting late, so I reheated the lamb in the broth and plated.

So I fished out some beans, strained on some of the broth, added a few chunks of lamb, and garnished with parsley. I also strained some broth on top of the lamb, but it dried out again by the time this picture was taken.

In the end, the broth was really good, the beans were just short of being done to my taste, and the flavor didn't seem to penetrate the lamb very well. For leftovers I added bacon, broke up the lamb, and cooked it for another 30–45 minutes. The leftovers were decent, but the beans were still not quite right.

In the end, I have much better uses for lamb shoulder, so I doubt I will make this again.

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