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DINNER PLANS

Bake a Leg

May 30, 1996|DARCELLE INFANTE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Mention leg of lamb to those who are fond of cooking and they will surely respond with their favorite recipes. Here's a way to prepare lamb that is guaranteed to knock the socks off any guest.

Lamb is naturally juicy and flavorful. Keeping it juicy is what this recipe accomplishes, and adding garlic and rosemary complements the lamb's already pleasing taste.

And while our palates are straying from the ordinary, why not add the Armenian bulgur wheat dish called Itch? Bulgur wheat is nutritious and can substitute for such starch dishes as potatoes, rice and stuffing. This dish combines tomato and bell pepper with bulgur for a rich taste and is usually served cold.

I like to round out the menu with fresh green beans sauteed with onions and a beautifully colorful and caloric salad that my family calls Ed's Salad, after our friend Ed Pacio, who brought the salad to several of our parties and taught us how to make it.

Although the lamb should be marinated overnight, this meal is basically pretty simple, and most of it can be prepared before your guests arrive.

Menu

Leg of Lamb

Itch

Onions and String Beans

Ed's Salad

Staples

Honey

Olive oil

Red, white, black pepper

Garlic

Dijon-style mustard

Shopping List

1 (10-ounce) bottle tarragon vinegar

1 (16-ounce) bottle tamari soy sauce

1 (4- to 6-pound) leg of lamb

1 (1-pint) bottle freshly squeezed orange juice with pulp or 2 cups homemade

1 bunch rosemary

1 1/2 pounds green beans

3 brown onions

1 red onion

2 red bell peppers

1 green bell pepper

1 (24-ounce) package fine-grade bulgur

1 (6-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

4 medium heads radicchio

3 medium heads Belgium endive

1 (8-ounce) chunk feta cheese

Game Plan

Day ahead: Marinate leg of lamb in fresh orange juice and tamari; store covered in refrigerator overnight.

Four hours before: Prepare lamb by cutting 1/2-inch slits around the leg, about one-inch apart. Stuff each hole with rosemary and a clove of garlic. Cover the whole leg of lamb with Dijon-style mustard and roast in oven. Clean the green beans and vegetables for the salad and mince three or four onions for the string beans and Itch. Prepare the Itch and chill.

30 minutes before: Prepare the green beans and make dressing for the salad.

LEG OF LAMB

Tamari is a heavy soy sauce that can be purchased at most health food stores and Asian markets. The recipe is easily adjusted to different leg sizes.

2 cups tamari soy sauce

2 cups orange juice

1 (4- to 6-pound) leg of lamb

2 heads garlic, each clove slivered

1 sprig fresh rosemary

Dijon-style or brown mustard

Salt

Combine soy sauce and orange juice. Put leg of lamb in non-reactive pan and pour soy-orange mixture over. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Cut slits 1/2 inch deep, about 1 inch apart, all over leg of lamb. Stuff each slit with sliver of garlic and a few leaves rosemary. Cover whole leg generously with Dijon mustard. Season with salt to taste.

Cook at 325 degrees until meat reaches internal temperature of 140 degrees for medium-rare, about 15 minutes per pound. Let stand 15 to 20 minutes before carving.

Makes 8 servings.

Each serving contains about:

298 calories; 4,211 mg sodium; 109 mg cholesterol; 7 grams fat; 14 grams carbohydrates; 44 grams protein; 0.24 gram fiber.

ITCH

Bulgur comes in No. 1, 2, 3 and 4 grades for thickness. For itch, buy the fine, or No. 1 grade, if you can. Many supermarkets carry bulgur; it can also be purchased at any Armenian store or in Iranian markets.

1/2 cup olive oil

2 onions, minced

1/2 or 1 green bell pepper, minced

6 ounces tomato sauce

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

2 cups fine-grade bulgur

Heat oil in skillet, add onions and bell pepper and saute until onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes and simmer about 30 minutes.

Remove sauce from heat and stir in bulgur. Refrigerate few hours. Serve chilled.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Each of 8 servings contains about:

264 calories; 219 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 14 grams fat; 32 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein; 1.15 grams fiber.

ED'S SALAD

4 heads radicchio, trimmed

3 heads endive, trimmed

1/2 red onion

2 red bell peppers

1/2 pound feta cheese

2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar

2 to 4 tablespoons Dijon-style or brown mustard

2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup honey

Freshly ground pepper

Separate radicchio and endive leaves. Thinly slice red onion and red bell peppers. Place radicchio and endive leaves, red onion and bell pepper slices in salad bowl with feta and toss.

Mix vinegar, 2 tablespoons mustard, olive oil and honey. Taste and adjust ingredients for flavor. Add dressing to salad and toss again. Season with black pepper to taste.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Each of 8 servings contains about:

194 calories; 454 mg sodium; 25 mg cholesterol; 11 grams fat; 19 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams protein; 1.98 grams fiber.

GREEN BEANS AND ONIONS

1 1/2 pounds green beans

2 tablespoons butter

1 onion, minced

Slice green beans into thirds.

Heat butter in skillet, add onion and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add green beans and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Each of 8 servings contains about:

59 calories; 35 mg sodium; 8 mg cholesterol; 3 grams fat; 8 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 1.05 grams fiber.

* Ivette Helfend plates from Neiman Marcus.

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