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OUTDOOR LIVING : Alfresco Feast : A Back-Yard Rotisserie Means Cooler Cooking--Even for Roast Leg of Lamb

June 04, 1989|JOAN DRAKE | Joan Drake is a Times staff writer.

Now foods that require longer, slower cooking can move outdoors. The newest patio "entertainment centers" serve as mini-kitchens and feature rotisseries, covered grills and indirect heat (a method in which meat or poultry is roasted, over a drip pan, by heat sources on either side). Some elaborate setups even have sinks and refrigerators. One of the benefits of these sophisticated cooking centers is that, weather permitting, virtually all food preparation can move to the back yard. Best of all, the new units let you cook a roast--a long, hot job in a regular oven--without raising the temperature in the house.

Roasts cooked on an outdoor rotisserie are crispy on the outside; yet the meat remains moist. This is especially true of a boneless leg of lamb stuffed with curried dried fruit, then marinated and basted with a Sauvignon Blanc-based marinade. To ensure succulence, check internal temperature during the final 30 minutes of cooking.

Whole onions can be roasted along with the meat, either tucked into the coals or in the drip pan. Remove any loose skins, but don't peel or cut the onions. Roast about one hour or until tender, turning several times.

OPEN-AIR FARE

Roasted Onions

Basmati Rice Pilaf

Stuffed Lamb

Tossed Salad with Vinaigrette

(arugula, butter lettuce, escarole, mache,radicchio )

Fresh Fruit

Fruit Ices

Sauvignon Blanc

STUFFED LEG OF LAMB

1 (8-ounce) package mixed dried fruit, coarsely chopped

Curry powder

1 cup water

1 (5- to 6-pound) boneless leg of lamb

Salt, pepper

2 cups Sauvignon Blanc

1/3 cup olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 cup minced onions

2 cloves garlic, minced

Cayenne pepper

Combine dried fruit, 1 teaspoon curry powder and water. Let stand at least 30 minutes.

Lay leg of lamb out flat, fat side down. Pound with meat mallet to flatten slightly and form rectangle. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drain any excess water from fruit and reserve for marinade, then spread fruit over lamb. Roll up meat and tie tightly with string in both directions at about 1-inch intervals.

Combine wine, olive oil, lemon juice, honey, 2 teaspoons curry powder, cumin, onions and garlic in large bowl. Add reserved water and season to taste with salt, pepper and cayenne. Place roast in marinade and marinate 1 to 3 hours.

Remove roast from marinade and secure on rotisserie spit rod. Roast meat according to manufacturer's directions to desired degree of doneness (135 degrees for rare, 150 degrees for medium).

Place marinade in saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Use marinade to baste lamb during roasting. Reheat marinade and serve as sauce. Makes 8 servings.

BASMATI RICE PILAF

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon oil

1 cup basmati rice

1/2 cup minced onion

1 3/4 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup toasted almonds

1/2 cup plumped golden raisins

1/2 cup sliced green onion

Salt

White pepper

Heat butter and oil in medium saucepan. Add rice and onion and saute several minutes, stirring constantly, until rice is lightly browned.

Add chicken stock, cover and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 25 to 30 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Stir in almonds, raisins and green onion. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Makes about 4 cups.

Food styling by Stephanie Puddy; prop styling by Robin Tucker; tableware from Crate & Barrel.

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