Cooking Challenge the First

Following up on that Portland foodie post, I wanted to show you that I’ve been making efforts in the kitchen myself as well. Not back to cooking lesson territory yet, for various reasons, but still having a walloping good time experimenting.

There are two recent projects that I’m proud of tackling, since they are a stretch for me.

The first concerns a food that I’m not particularly fond of: lamb. I had plenty of it while living in Turkey (now there’s irony), but didn’t particularly like the taste and always thought if I didn’t like it enough, I shouldn’t be patronizing the meat industry, factory farming being what it is today.

But avoiding the whole area nagged at me. Wasn’t there some way I could come to appreciate lamb? It’s one of the most common meats to find at the local, organic farmers’ markets that abound here in Stumptown. I decided to give it a chance, and bought a small piece of osso buco-cut lamb from one of the vendors at the PSU Farmers’ Market.

Weeks later, I finally found a recipeĀ and room to roam in the kitchen, so I defrosted that premium cut from Deck Farms.

lamb cut osso buco

The recipe was from Melissa Clark’s latest cookbook, In the Kitchen with an Appetite: Lamb Tagine with Apricots, Olives, and Buttered Almonds (found on NYT here).

As always, I had to make do with a lot of substitutions:

no saffron, kalamata instead of green olives, pine nuts instead of almonds, and, it almost goes without saying, no garnish. I also scaled down 4:1 as it was just for me.

prep tagine ingredients

My ingredients chopped and ready to go…

lamb tagine

…and the same ingredients after being sweated, simmered, and braised for almost an hour, over basmati rice, another stand-in. It may not come out in the picture, but the succulence was amazing. The meat was buttery rich and everything had a nice savory-creamy-richness to it that lasted for the 3 meals it took to finish. I credit mostly the cut of the meat, since there weren’t any other big players in the lineup. Well done, Deck Farms!

So there you have it, a confrontation with one of my cooking bugaboos, and with a recipe from a book I’ve been dying to try, we are off to a running start with lamb!

For the second challenge, you’ll have to stay tuned for the next post! šŸ˜‰

What about you guys? I know there are a couple blogs out there who have made a feature of a particularly troublesome ingredient each month and then had a round-robin discussion of how far people got with it, which sounds fun.

But barring that motivation (and space not permitting at the moment), let’s start with the question: what do you avoid touching with a 10-foot-pole in your kitchen? And WHY is THAT?



One Response to Cooking Challenge the First

  1. Pingback: Cooking Challenge the Second | Taste Life Twice

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