When I was contacted by BostonChefs.com and the American Lamb Board about participating in the 2nd American Lamb Pro-Am on May 19 in Boston I was excited to say the least. As part of this challenge I was provided with a leg of lamb and asked to come up with an original recipe that will go up against other New England bloggers in an online contest. There are a total of 12 participating bloggers – 7 from Boston, two from Portland and three from Providence – who have posted recipes on their blogs. The top four vote-getting Boston bloggers, the top blogger from Portland and the top blogger from Providence will be paired with a chef from their city and compete. If you want to buy tickets for the event, click here.
So! There’s your background. On to the nitty gritty. Since spring is a little slow in coming this year in New England, I knew I wanted to pair the leg of lamb with some bright, fresh flavors. My mind wandered to the Caribbean – I’m talking jerk seasoning, sweet and creamy yams, and bright and spicy mango salsa. There, I’m already feeling a little warmer.
This plate transported my taste buds straight to Jamaica. Sadly we had snow showers on Friday, so they were shocked back to life shortly thereafter. But! For a little while at least, I could imagine sunny skies and warm beaches. The jerk-infused, robust flavor of the lamb is met with slightly sweet, creamy mashed yams, and spicy, tart flavors from the mango salsa. The acidity from the salsa and sweetness from yams break right through the richness of the meat – yum.
Now, let’s get cooking.
Caribbean Roast Leg of Lamb
One 7-8 pound boneless leg of lamb
Jerk seasoning (see below)
To start, prep your lamb. I was provided with a 7-8 pound boneless leg of lamb. If you’re working with a smaller cut, just adjust your timing. Trim fat to no more than 1/4″ thick and score the fat by making shallow cuts over with the top of the meat using the tip of a small knife knife. I made a grid pattern. Now, make your jerk seasoning.
1 tbsp. ground allspice
2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1.) Combine all of the spices except for garlic and salt in a small bowl, make sure they are thoroughly mixed.
2.) Using a mortar and pestle, grind the garlic and kosher salt to form a paste.
3.) Add the rest of the spices and mix to combine.
Slather the jerk paste all over the meat. I made sure to get into the cut marks, and on the inside as well. Place the meat into a large roasting pan with a rack insert. Here’s how she looks at this point.
Allow it to sit out for 30-45 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 350*F. Roast for 1.5 hours and check the temperature. It should read 130*F at the center of the meat. If it isn’t fully cooked, try another 15-30 minutes and check the temperature. Mine took a total of two hours. Once it reaches 130*F, let it stand for 15 to 25 minutes. The temperature will rise to about 140°F for medium-rare.
While the lamb is roasting, prep your sides. You can also do these up to one day in advance.
Caribbean Mango Salsa
2 mangoes, peeled, pitted, and chopped into 1/2″ dice
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped into 1/2″ dice
4 scallions, green part only, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeño chile, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice of one lime
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1.) Heat a large fry pan to medium-low heat. Add the olive oil.
2.) Saute the red pepper, scallions, ginger, garlic, and jalapeno until softened, 3-4 minutes.
3.) Stir in the mango, lime juice, salt and pepper and cook for one minute. Let sit at room temperature, you’ll serve it with the lamb at room temperature.
* Serves 4-6. If you’re feeding a crowd, double or triple this recipe
2 pounds of sweet potatoes / yams, peeled and diced into 1″ chunks
1/2 cup milk (I used 1%)3 tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1.) Add enough water to a large pot to fill half-way. Add the sweet potatoes. Cover and bring to a boil.
2.) Once boiling, remove the cover and allow to cook until fork tender, about 20 minutes.
3.) Drain the potatoes and return to the pot. Add the butter, milk, allspice and salt. Use a potato masher to mash. I used a food processor because I wanted mine very smooth, but you could skip this step.
4.) Keep warm until the lamb is ready.
Now, if you like what you see (you know you do!) make sure to vote starting April 17. If you’re a New Englander, check out the American Lamb Pro-Am on May 19 in Boston – should be a fun event.