Tuesday, June 17, 2008

In a Moment

Once upon a time, I shunned red meat. It happened a couple of times, for a couple of years at a time. Even during the periods in which I was a veritable carnivore, I never really took to lamb. However, at this exact moment, I cannot even begin to imagine why I would ever do such a ridiculous thing. It was probably because my mother can’t stand it, so I just followed her lead and declared myself against eating this poor little animal. I came to, though, and am I ever happy I did.

Lately I’ve found myself eating lamb more than I possibly could have imagined a mere year ago, no doubt to make up for all the lost time. While a rack of lamb is a nice special treat every once in a while, it is expensive to eat often (and really, just not all that good for you). When I get the hankering for lamb, but don’t want to spend a lot of money or a lot of time making it, I have been turning to a refreshingly simple and delicious recipe.

Lamb and mint are well-known companions, yet for some reason this mint is often turned into a ghastly, terrifying jelly form. Why would somebody do such a thing? Mint has such a great, crisp, clean flavor, once that pairs so excellently with the gaminess of the lamb. Why turn it into a textural malady, into a greenish glop on the side of the plate that will likely (hopefully) go ignored?

Mint is given a proper role in this dish, one that allows the flavor to pop, a lovely complement to the strength of the feta, the subtle kick from the garlic and the earthiness of the lamb. The dish is so simple and effortless that it can be prepared on a moment’s notice, which is quite fortunate for me, since I rarely find myself with more than a moment now this bar exam business is in full swing. Its flavors are so classic and simple that you might find that moment popping up quite often.

Lamb Sausage Patties with Fresh Mint, Feta and Garlic
Molly Wizenberg, Bon App├ętit, February 2008

This recipe has really become a sort of go-to for me. I have a feeling the result might be the same for you.

1 1/2 pounds ground lamb (shoulder recommended)
2 large garlic cloves, pressed
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Place lamb in large bowl. Sprinkle garlic and salt over lamb. Gently toss lamb to blend. Combine feta and mint in small bowl.

Divide lamb into 12 equal mounds. Using damp hands, shape each into ball. Working with 1 ball at a time, poke thumb into center to make a hole. Press 1 teaspoon feta-mint filling into hole. Pinch hole closed, then press ball between palms to flatten into 3/4-inch-thick disk. Repeat with remaining lamb and feta-mint filling. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Transfer to baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate.

Preheat oven to 250°F. Heat olive oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Working in 2 batches, cook lamb sausages until browned on both sides and cooked to desired doneness, about 3 minutes per side for medium. Transfer sausages to rimmed baking sheet and place in oven to keep warm. Serve hot and enjoy.

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