Grilled Leg of Lamb and Salsa Verde (by Michael Schwartz)

Debi and I are creatures of habit: we are young parents always on a schedule, always on the run and basically always tired!

When it comes to our meals we usually tend to plan ahead what’s going to happen at the dinner table; we do it daily, it is almost a ritual where everybody is involved. I have to say, proposing my girls new recipes I want to tackle while they are having breakfast is not the easiest thing to do… it seems I am the only one in this house that is able to sip a morning coffee while already drooling at the idea of a Pork Loin dinner, or while flipping through a cookbook.

As much as we enjoy our home cooked meals we always try to make time at least once a week to eat someone else’s’ food, as a way of looking for inspiration and widen our culinary horizons… so to speak.  I personally enjoy a lot the process by which new recipes become part of my repertoire: I always take pictures of dishes I like when dining out, I am an avid food magazine reader and a collector of all cookbooks that are in line with my family’s Tuscan style. However even if I try new recipes constantly and obsessively, I never follow directions to the letter; I try to understand the “backbone” of whatever I am eating or reading about and then I hit the stove and try to make it. It is not the easiest process as it obviously it exposes me to possible failure (which does not happen often… but it happens) and it also usually translates in longer time spent trying to finesse each recipe.

One of the most important suggestions I give people when they ask about how “not to be scared when following a new recipe” is the following: play it inside your head, read the whole recipe beginning to end and try to imagine cooking it… so many recipes can be visualized that way and it truly makes the job easier. Obviously some foods are easier than others to visualize, and that usually depends on individual skills… I can do the trick with pastas, soups and meats, but I am not an Uber-Baker and I really have my difficulties imagining cakes rising. It is also true that baking is a much more precise science than making a roast, but I am telling you, there are pastry chefs out there that never read their recipes, they “Just Know It”… and that to me that is real magic!

It is a rare pleasure to come across a cookbook that reads easy and complete: a book where recipes look perfect the way they are written, where photography is not discouraging, and where the overall tone of simplicity makes you feel you grew up with it in your mother’s kitchen.

For the past few months, since Debi and I attended the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, I’ve had the same cookbook on my kitchen counter; I have been going through it on a weekly basis and with religious attitude: “Michael’s Genuine Food – Down to Earth Cooking for People Who Love To Eat“.

I had the pleasure and the honor to meet Michael and eat at his restaurant “Michael’s Genuine” while celebrating the end of the Food Festival with Debi and a few friends, it was our last evening before flying back to Los Angeles. It has been months now, and we’re still talking about it and incessantly going back to his cookbook as if it was a family photo album of some sort. “Hey Deb, do you remember this appetizer? OMG that was just fantastic.”, “Oh yes, and what bout that Pork Chop?” or “We should try this for the kids? I’m sure they’ll love it!” Everything we ate during that dinner will be remembered for a long time!

And this is the reason why we thought of doing the right thing by posting one of our favorite recipes from Michael’s book and actually offering you a chance to win an autographed copy of it! Try this recipe and post a picture of it on our comment section, the best picture will take home the cookbook. Pictures will be reviewed by Debi and I and by Michael’s and his director of marketing Jackie. We will announce the winner on Monday June 13th 2011.

Note: Michael serves his leg of lamb with a side of Greek Farro Salad, but we’d love to see what you’ll pair your meat with. Be creative!

Happy Cooking.

INGREDIENTI

Roasted Leg Of Lamb

Prep Time: 20 min / Cook Time: 75 min / Serves:6

1 (6-pound) leg of lamb, bone in, trimmed of excess fat
1/2 cup Greek-style yogurt
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
3 lemons, halved

Salsa Verde

Prep Time: 15 min / Makes: 3/4 Cup

1 cup firmly-packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
3 tablespoons capers, drained, rinsed, and chopped
2 anchovies in oil, drained and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 shallot, chopped
Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Roasted Leg Of Lamb

1

Put the lamb in a large roasting pan and pat dry with paper towels.

2

In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, rosemary, lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well to combine.

3

Using your hands, rub the paste all over the lamb. Cover with plastic wrap and marinade in the refrigerator for at least 6 or even better overnight, turning occasionally.

4

Preheat an outdoor gas grill and get it very hot. Rub the grill grates with oil to prevent sticking. Put the leg of lamb on the grill, reduce the heat to the lowest setting, and close the cover. Grill the lamb for 75 minutes, turning periodically, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the lamb registers about 135°F (be careful that the thermometer does not touch the bone.)

6

Remove the lamb to a cutting board and allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving. The internal temperature will continue to rise 5 to 10 degrees.

7

Right before serving, put the lemon halves, cut-side down, on the grill and char for 1 minute - you won't believe how much juice you get.

8

To serve: Drizzle the lamb with salsa verde and give a good squeeze of lemon juice.

Rainy-day method:Prepare the lamb as above, but roast in a roasting pan in a preheated 325°F oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours for medium-rare.

Salsa Verde

In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well with a spoon.

Recipe courtesy of Michael Schwartz - @chefmschwartz