Lamb breast recipes?
January 17, 2008 11:21 AM   Subscribe

Anybody have any good recipes for lamb breast?

Lamb breast is a lot cheaper than the other lamb cuts at the supermarket, so I'd like to try it, but many of the recipes I've found involve two or three different cooking methods, and/or complicated stuffings and such. I might try these sorts of recipes later, so post 'em if you've got 'em, but I'm most interested in something simpler, as I'd rather not jump into the deep end of the pool first thing. Does anyone know a simple & delicious method for cooking lamb breast? I especially like Indian and Mediterranean flavors, but anything is welcome. Bonus points for starch-free or low-starch recipes. Thanks!
posted by vorfeed to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure about lamb breast per se, but sometimes I can get the guy at the deli counter to grind up cheaper cuts of lamb. I use it to make this meatloaf (which does require some other meats too, so my apologies if you want lamb only recipes).

1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground veal
1 lb. ground lamb
1 lg. onion, diced small
2 stalks celery, diced small
1/3 cup ketchup
3 Tb. mustard
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
3 eggs
1 cup crumbled crackers

Mix all ingredients. Form two large loaves or four to five small loaves. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-30 minutes. Spread 1/4 cup mayonnaise over top of loaves, bake an additional 15 minutes (depending on size of loaves). Olive oil can be used instead of mayo, or you can forgo either (but the loaves won't be as moist).
posted by solipsophistocracy at 11:41 AM on January 17, 2008

There's a reason why all the recipes are multi-step -- lamb breast is kind of a weird cut in terms of fat distribution, which is why it's so cheap. I found this nice guide to meat cuts.

You probably already saw this Jacques Pepin recipe via Google. Don't be put off by the poaching step. Don't feel pressured to save the poaching liquid if you don't want to fuss with that.
posted by desuetude at 11:47 AM on January 17, 2008

Best answer: It is not simple, but this is my favourite way.

Bear in mind that lamb flap is typically well over 50% fat, even if you trim it. When I was growing up it was something that only poor people bought, and these days most of it ends up exported to Pacific Island countries or processed for pet food. I only see it for sale in places where a lot of Pacific Islanders shop.

When I feel indulgent and want to be cruel to my arteries, I cut it into chunks and make a casserole or stew, using whatever lamb recipe sounds tastiest (ones that call for cubed shoulder will work quite well). Then I refrigerate the dish overnight, and remove the (usually quite thick) solid fat layer before reheating the next day.

Another approach I have tried is scoring the meat to help the fat render out, poking in rosemary and garlic slivers, and roasting on a rack over a drip try in a low oven for three or four hours. Very tasty, and a lot of the fat rendered out. (Warning, once the fat has rendered out, you discover that there isn't much actual meat in there).
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:38 PM on January 17, 2008

It sounds like this cut of meat would work well with braising. Ideally you'd want to sear the meat first (brown it in a frying pan at high heat so that it develops a golden brown crust, or at least some color) because that will add flavor to the dish as a whole. If adding that step alarms you, then you can easily go with a white braise, which just means that you don't sear it to start.

Get a oven safe container with a lid that can fit the entire lamb breast. Put the lamb in the dish and on top of it throw in:

1 large or medium onion cut it into quarters
1 or 2 carrots, cut into large pieces (don't bother peeling, just wash)
1 or 2 stalks of celery
a bay leaf
a whole dried chili (or crushed)

Now put in a liquid for the lamb to braise in. This could be a stock of some sort (beef, lamb, chicken), or it could be red or white wine, or apple juice, or beer or tomatoes. Pour it in so that the 1/4 or 1/2 of the lamb is in the liquid.

Cover the dish and throw it into the oven at 325 farenheit for 2 - 3 hours. Check it periodically to make sure the liquid isn't all evaporated. If it is put in more. It's a good idea to turn the meat once or twice during the braising process, making sure that it is still partially submerged and not just sitting on the veggies. When a knife slides into an out of the meat easily, it's done. You can strain out the vegetables from the liquid and thicken it with corn starch or flour to make a delicious sauce. Or you can puree the veggies into the liquid to thicken it.

To add some mediterranean flavors, before you start braising you could throw in some cumin, or some tomato paste, or lemon peel, or oregano, or any mediterranean flavor you like. Red wine would probably be the ideal mediterranean braising liquid - or tomatoes. Just don't combine wine and beer in the braising liquid. Wine and stock/broth would be fine.

It will be delicious, I promise. If the cut is fatty, as the above people suggest, spoon off the fat from the braising liquid before making a sauce with it.
posted by Jupiter Jones at 1:18 PM on January 17, 2008

Best answer: Braising is the thing to do with the breast, and Jupiter Jones is basically right on in the general directions.

Here are mine, and a few variations:

1. Wash and pat dry the breast.
2. Dredge it in flour, salt and pepper.
3. Sear it in a heavy and deep pan until it is fairly well browned.
4. Remove the seared lamb.
5. Add a little bit of olive oil to the pan and scrape for a few seconds to avoid any serious burning.
6. Add as many smashed garlic cloves as you feel necessary and turn the heat down to a manageable level, at which the garlic will not burn (this may require lifting the pan from the heat for a minute)
7. 1-2 minutes later, when the garlic is cooking, but not burning, add a heap of chopped red onion. If you like, add chopped bell peppers (a small amount, if at all) as well. It is very, very important to control the heat at this step. Allow the onions and garlic to cook together really well, and fairly slowly so that their natural sugars come out and so that they carmelize well. If you do not do this properly, you will simply boil the onions and garlic later. There's no going back from this step. On the one hand, simple translucence is not enough. On the other, burning is awful. When making stews and hearty sauces, I let my onions cook for a good twenty minutes.
8. If you like, add mushrooms about five-ten minutes into the onion cooking process.
9. See the note on parallel proceedings regarding turnips, carrots and parsnips below.
10. Add the parallel-proceeding roasted turnips, carrots and parsnips.
11. Cover the lamb in a braising liquid that is 1/2 beer and 1/2 beef or chicken stock (preferably the low-sodium kind).
12. Add, at this point, salt, a few whole black peppercorns and some dried bouquet garni or herbs de provence. Fresh ones go in towards the end of cooking.
13. Let the thing simmer slowly for three or more hours.

Parallel Proceedings with Turnips, Parsnips and Carrots

Clean and peel turnips, carrots, and parsnips.
Coat them in olive oil, salt, pepper and dried bouquet garni or herbs de provence.
Roast them in the oven on 375 degrees for twenty minutes or until they are brown and fairly cooked.

You can chop them and add them, add them whole, or my favorite thing to do, which helps with thickening and consistency, puree half of the roasted roots and add the other half in fairly large chunks.

To Finish

1/2 hour before finishing add freshly chopped rosemary, thyme, sage and parsley. Reserve some of these fresh herbs to use as a garnish when serving.

Remove the whole lamb breast from the pot and either cut it up or shred it and then return it to the pot.

If necessary, thicken just a tiny bit with tomato paste, or even(!) ketchup.

Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Ideally, let it cool down completely and let it settle for some time before serving. Preferably overnight or the next day. Serve garnished with chopped herbs.

You can easily, by the way, choose another palate of seasonings. Skip the parsley, rosemary, thyme, etc. If you do that, add freshly toasted cumin throughout the cooking; Corriander, freshly roasted jalepenos, a cinnamon stick, toasted cardamom seeds. I would stick some figs and raisins in there about halfway through the cooking. Otherwise, everything is exactly the same.

posted by kosem at 2:03 PM on January 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

Here's another. Although the most delicious way to serve this would be over fresh pasta, thus violating your starch injunction, there is no reason why you couldn't do it with either a very small amount of pasta (inverse to the tradition), over "healthier" seedy or whole wheat pasta, or over, say, spaghetti squash. Also, on its own with a touch of mopping bread would work well.

Lamb ragu:

Cook red onions (cut the onion in half and then make very thin half-moon slices) and garlic (paper thin slices of lightly smashed cloves) in olive oil for twenty five minutes. Season periodically with salt and pepper.

Add at least a large can of very good quality Italian canned tomatoes (whole, peeled ones). The best way to manage these is to dump them in a bowl and crush them with your hands.

Bring that to a low boil.

Add 1/3 of the volume of the tomatoes worth of low-sodium beef broth. 2d choice: chicken broth.

Bring to a low boil.

Add the clean, dry, and otherwise untouched lamb breast and submerge it in the burgeoning sauce. Simmer on low for 2-4 hours. Or, you could do all of this in a pressure cooker in a fraction of the time.

1 1/2 hours into the simmer add a tablespoon or two of tomato paste.
1/2 hour before cooking add a huge amount of chopped basil and a small amount of chopped rosemary.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Remove and shred the lamb with a fork and thicken, as needed, with more tomato paste.
posted by kosem at 2:13 PM on January 17, 2008

kosem, it's the wrong time of year here for that kind of food, and I'm not in the best of spirits, but that was inspiring.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:36 PM on January 17, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! I will give some of these a try next time I have a weekend free. Cheers!
posted by vorfeed at 7:47 AM on January 18, 2008

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