Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Pulled Lamb Sandwich With Caramelized Onions and Chipotle Garlic Aioli

Picnic
She checked the clock twice in a minute to make sure it was still working. Checked her phone to see if there were any calls that she had missed. Rushed to the sound of a passing car and she peaked out the window hoping it was him. Then disappointed went back to the couch rubbing her sweaty palms against each other, sat down and began shaking the legs again.

Sandwich
He promised he will be home from work by 8 and it was almost midnight. No phone calls, no messages and no news of him being well. He never does that, then why today? Something must have gone terribly wrong. An accident or maybe that back of his? Worst things come to mind at times like this.

Tulips

Then trying not to concentrate on her pacing heartbeat she picked up her favorite book. While turning to the page she had last left, she heard something. Maybe the sound of footsteps approaching, which were being faded by that pouring rain outside of her apartment. A ring of the doorbell and she shook with excitement. This might be the best sound she had ever heard. She ran to the door, opened it and there he was. Drenched in rain but a smile on face.

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Before she could complain his hand holding flowers appeared from behind. "Why do you have to like red tulips?" he complained " I thought I'd pick some for you but then they always run out of them?" She couldn't hold the tears back anymore so let it all out but accompanied with a big laugh. "What's for dinner?" he asked. "Sandwiches", she said. "Alright, then lets have a picnic in our living room tonight!". He entered the house and just like that everything just brightened up.

Ingredients
Thanks to American Lamb for sending some really good all-natural lamb for me to try for this recipe! I will be sending this recipe to the Lamb Lover's Photo Contest.

Ingredients: Makes 4-5 Sandwiches

For Slow Cooker Pulled Lamb:
1 1/2 - 2 lbs boneless leg of lamb
3/4 chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves of garlic (smashed)
1 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

For Caramelized Onion: (Slow Cooker version in "The Book")
4 cups thinly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil (or butter)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

For the Chipotle Garlic Aioli: Makes 1 cup
I followed this recipe for garlic aioli on David Lebovitz's blog, tweaked just a little. Just omit the garlic from this recipe and add chipotle garlic paste instead.

2 tablespoons Chipotle and Roasted Garlic Paste
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1/2 cup (250ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pure olive oil  
You'd be surprised to notice that I use two kinds of olive oils. I once read a chef  mixing half of pure live oil to the quantity of extra virgin olive oil to cut on the strong taste of oil in the aioli. I tried and it works for me. If you'd rather use 1 cup extra virgin then go ahead. You will not be breaking any rules.

Remaining ingredients I used for the sandwich. You can always play around here!
Baguette bread (you can use your choice of hard crusted bread)
Some greens (arugula or baby spinach go well with this)
Sliced tomatoes
Sliced avacado

Method:
Preparing Lamb:-
In a mason jar add all the ingredients except for the lamb and chicken stock. Close the lid and shake vigorously for 5 seconds. (This is how I make my vinaigrette)
Pour the vinaigrette to a ziplock bag. Add the lamb. Seal the bag and squish it so that all the vinaigrette is coated well around the lamb. Let it sit for 30 minutes.
Take the lamb out of the Ziplock back. Heat a cast iron skillet. Transfer the lamb to the skillet and cook on each side for 3-4 minutes.
Pour chicken stock to the slow cooker. Transfer the lamb to the slow cooker discarding all excess fat.
Cover and cook on low for low for 6-7 hours.

For Caramelized Onion:
Use a wide thick bottom saute pan (I use a cast iron skillet). Heat oil/butter
Add sliced onion. Stir well to coat the onion with oil/butter. Turn the heat to medium and let it cook on its own, stirring occasionally.
As the onion turns brown and looses its water it will stick to the bottom. Let it stick a little but keep an eye so that you do not burn them and keep stirring occasionally.
Towards the end the onions might all come together and begin to stick more to the bottom. Try adding a couple tablespoons of water to deglaze the pan. Turn the heat off and let it sit in the hot pan for 10 minutes before you move it to dish.

For the Aioli:
I followed the recipe as on David's blog. Its explained well there and always works for me. Just substitute garlic with Chipotle and Roasted Garlic Paste.

Putting the sandwich together:
Take the leg of lamb out of the slow cooker. Using two forks shred the meat. I always reduce the remaining liquid in the slow cooker and pour it over my meat. So I did the same here.
On a bed of greens over sliced baguette put some pulled leg of lamb, add caramelized onion, tomato and avacado. Smother some aioli on the other half of the baguette. Place it on top and enjoy with a glass of cold beer and your honey! 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Chipotle And Roasted Garlic Paste

I like putting the butterfly to bed. The whole house is nice and quiet. Sitting in a dark room next to her, holding her soft chubby hand and running fingers through her hair. Listening to the tick tock of the clock, then being disturbed by the whooshing sound of a strange car passing by the house every once in a while. Its nice AND quiet! If you live in a house with a very curious butterfly whose only job during day is to fly around the house in circles until the whole house comes down with her, you know how golden that "nice and quiet" is!

Chipotle Garlic Paste
I barely get a second in my day where I can just sit, close my eyes and think. That nice and quiet is my opportunity when I do nothing but think and get transported to some other place for a while. Yesterday it was a trip to Mexico that we went on an year back. To the stuffy, noisy but colorful streets of Old Puerto Vallarta.

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It was our third day in the city when we finally decided we've had enough sun bathing for our Indian skin so we pulled ourselves out of the beach, strapped the kid to her car seat in our tiny rental and headed to the old town. The hotel employees warned us that the we might find a little too much culture that a tourist can take but we were relentless. Later we were glad that we were. Because I am quite sure that we could never have got a better tasting pork tacos, creamier avocados and more refreshing PiƱa Coladas than anywhere else.

Street food in Mexico
Colorful vendor stallCars hustling on the streets along with pedestrians, tiny shops lined in a row selling everything from pillows to bird cages, old historic church with tall clock tower whose bell would go off every hour to tell us how fast the time is passing. So much color and so much life everywhere.

Kids playing soccer on the streets Spice shopAnd then I saw something which made me jump. I might have shrieked, I am not sure and my family is still too embarrassed to admit. I saw a spice shop! Not your spices-boxed-in-fancy-little-colored-jars kind of a spice shop but the I-can-smell-the-place-from-a-mile kind of spice shop. It was tiny but overflowing with a zillion kinds of spices, half of which I had no idea what they were. I went nuts and bought a little of this, a little of that and couldn't stop until the "better half" gave a stare. I managed to buy some dried chipotle pepper as well. The smokey-and-sweet-yet-carrying-a-punch kind.

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Chipotle
So holding her chubby hands with my eyes closed and brushing her hair with my fingers yesterday, I was thinking of those chipotle peppers. Thinking of ways how I could use them this time. I thought of that chili garlic paste that mummy would always keep in her kitchen just to add an extra punch to any sad dish. I thought why not do it with chipotle pepper and mix them with garlic to make a smokey chipotle garlic paste. Now I do not know about you but there's something about roasted garlic that I love. It must be the aroma or the depth it adds to any dish but there is something.

Roasting garlic
So next morning soon after waking up I got busy with the peppers. Cut them, cleaned them, toasted them, rehydrated them and then pulled out my mortar and pestle. Threw in some roasted garlic with those peppers. Then with a little love and lot more muscle a beauty came out. You can use this paste to spice up any bland dish from a creamy pasta sauce to a simple vegetable stir fry. It also adds so much flavor to meat.Add a little bit of salt to your taste and this can act as a good spread for any bread.
I referred this amazing tutorial by Gourmet food editor Chef Ian to educate myself more about peppers and how to use them.

Ingredients:
16-18 dried chipotle pepper
1 garlic head (bulb)
1/3 cup olive oil +1 teaspoon
4-5 cups water (to rehydrate the peppers)

Method:
Using this video as a reference, I cleaned and prepped my Chipotle peppers. Check it out, you might learn something new about peppers. I know I did.
In order to roast garlic, preheat the oven to 400 deg. F.
To prep the garlic you can either chop about a 1/4" of its top just enough to expose the garlic or cut it into two across its circumference like I did.  I do not think it makes any difference.
Place the exposed side up on a piece of aluminum foil. Pour 1 teaspoon olive oil over it. Bring the two exposed sides back to their place. Tightly wrap the foil making a ball. Place it in the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the garlic is soft.
Take it out of the oven. Let it cool for 10 minutes and then either pinch the cloves out of the skin or take it out using a fork.
Now to make a paste you can either use a mortar and pestle or to make things easier you can use your food processor.
Place the garlic and peppers together and grind them into a paste.
Olive oil here is used only for preserving purpose so you can add it after grinding or if using a food processor add it while grinding to help the blades move smoothly.
Place in an air tight container and store in your refrigerator.

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