Photo Credit: Alexandra Grablewski
In my family, Xaruuf Mishwee is always served at our Easter celebration as a return to meat after the Lenten season. My springtime roast begins with a leg of lamb stuffed with garlic cloves and marinated overnight in fresh herbs. A slow roast makes for melt-in-your-mouth tenderness, perfectly complemented by freekeh (fire-roasted baby wheat), and steamed spring vegetables with a garlic-herb butter sauce.
There’s no need to limit yourself to just once a year for this dish; it makes a showstopping centerpiece for Christmas, New Years’ Eve, or any large holiday or celebration. I love to make it on my favorite holiday— Valentine’s Day—and share the love with my whole family.
MAKES 10 TO 12 SERVINGS
One 8- to 10-pound bone-in leg of lamb
10 garlic cloves, 5 left whole and 5 finely minced
1⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sea salt
1⁄2 tablespoon ground white pepper
1 small bunch fresh mint leaves, half finely minced and half left whole
1 small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, half finely minced and half left whole
1 small bunch fresh chives, half finely minced and half left whole
1 small bunch fresh thyme sprigs, leaves picked, half finely minced and half left whole
1 small bunch fresh rosemary, leaves picked, half finely minced and half left whole
1 large Vidalia onion, quartered
1 large red onion, quartered
3 large shallots, quartered
1 cup clover or alfalfa sprouts, for garnish
2 cups freekeh (fire roasted baby wheat)
1⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Vidalia onion, finely minced
2 shallots, finely minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 1⁄2 cups water, vegetable, beef, or chicken broth
12 spring onion bulbs
2 cups sugar snap peas
12 baby carrots, peeled with stems left on
12 asparagus spears, thick ends removed
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
3 tablespoons fresh mint, minced
3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, minced
3 tablespoons fresh chives, minced
1 teaspoon sea salt
Place the leg of lamb on a large baking sheet. Using a small, sharp knife, make small 1-inch-deep slits throughout the lamb leg, piercing through the skin into the meat. Slice the whole garlic cloves in half and stuff them into the slits.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil, salt, pepper, and minced herbs. Generously rub the herbed oil all over the lamb leg, and cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap. Transfer the lamb to the refrigerator and marinate for at least 6 hours and up to 12.
After marinating, remove the lamb from the refrigerator and discard the plastic wrap.
Preheat the oven to 450°F. In a small pot, bring 3 cups of cold water to a boil.
Place the quartered onions, shallots, and whole herbs on the bottom of a large roasting pan and cover with the boiling water. Place a rack on top and lift the lamb leg onto the rack. Transfer the roasting pan to a lower rack in the preheated oven and roast the lamb for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F, and continue to roast for 2 1⁄2 to 3 hours, basting the lamb periodically with the juices it releases. If the pan juices are evaporating too quickly, simply add additional hot water to the bottom of the pan.
When the meat is fully cooked, it should be pinkish in the center, dark brown on the outside, and register an internal temperature of 160°F. Remove the lamb from the oven and turn off the heat.
Cover the lamb with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
While the lamb is cooking, begin cooking the freekeh: place freekeh in a large mixing bowl, and run your fingers through the wheat and discard any particles if necessary. Rinse under cold running water three times, skimming off any skins that may rise to the top of the bowl. Set aside.
In a large pot, combine the olive oil, onion, and shallots and sauté over medium-low heat until the onion and shallots are translucent and lightly browned. Stir in the freekeh, completely coating the grains in the oil and mixing well with the onion and shallots. Season with the sea salt and stir steadily for a few minutes to toast the grains. Pour the water or broth into the pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and allow the freekeh to slowly simmer, covered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour while absorbing liquid. If the liquid is absorbed too quickly, add more hot water or broth and cook until the freekeh is tender.
Once the freekeh is tender, remove the pot from the heat and let the freekeh stand, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the lid, and fluff the grains with a fork. Re-cover to keep hot until ready to serve.
While the freekeh is simmering, prepare the spring vegetables. Using a large double boiler or steamer pot, bring 6 cups of cold water to a rolling boil in the bottom pot. Cut an X in the bottom of each spring onion bulb. Place all the vegetables in the steamer basket and steam, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes so that the vegetables are cooked through, but still slightly crunchy. While the vegetables are cooking, fill a large bowl with cold water and ice cubes. When the vegetables are cooked, transfer them to the ice bath.
In a large sauté pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Stir in the garlic and herbs. Once the butter and herbs start to slightly sizzle, add the steamed vegetables to the pan and season with salt. Briefly toss to coat the vegetables completely with the butter sauce, then turn off the heat, and cover to keep warm.
To plate the meal, cover a large serving platter with the sprouts. Place the lamb leg in the center of the platter, either left whole or carved. Spread the freekeh all around the lamb, and arrange the vegetables on top of the grains. Pour the herb-butter sauce from the sauté pan into a small bowl and serve alongside the platter. Strain the pan juices from the roasting pan and spoon over the lamb meat just before serving.
NOTE You will need a long, large roasting pan with a rack.
Copyright 2017 by Julie Ann Sageer in Julie Taboulie’s Lebanese Kitchen, St. Martin’s Press/St. Martin’s Griffin. All Rights Reserved.
RECIPE BY JULIE ANN SAGEER (JULIE TABOULIE)
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