Last month I picked up my fabulous Spring meat CSA box from 4505 Meats right before my shoulder surgery, sadly necessitating a postponement of eating the beautiful Spring lamb.
But last Wednesday was The Night.
With a little help from my friends I (almost) one-handedly prepared the lamb loin wrapped in lardo. Lardo. One of the most wonderful words to say and to eat.
The directions thoughtfully provided with the CSA box were perfect, simply sear the lamb loin on all sides then roast at 250 F for 15 minutes. Delicious. This I could totally do with just my left hand and I used my 8″ omlette pan which was just the right size.
The trick for tender lamb is to not overcook it and to let it rest.
I actually tented it in a little foil while I quickly cooked some asparagus.
To accompany the lamb loin I had planned to roast sweet potatoes but sadly the fridge turned them into nasty goo so out they went into the compost bin.
I looked in my pantry and found a package of Umbrian farro. I have never tried cooking it before and it was pretty hysterical, the directions on the package were so tiny that neither my friend L___ or I could read them! After resorting to magnifying glasses from my knitting bag we cobbled together a farro pilaf.
L___ did all the knife work and lifting of pots while I stirred and hovered. Working together in my tiny kitchen is fun, cozy work. The pilaf turned out to be easy and very satisfying. I see myself making lots of farro in the future.
The lamb was carved into six little medallions by L___ and perfectly arranged on my beautiful platter from Turkey.
A side note, I met the artist who made my plate in Turkey and I had a great day playing in his studio and ended up having dinner with a bunch of his artist friends. Using his plate gives me a smile.
Eating the lamb and farro really gave me a smile too. The farro was rich and slightly chewy, the peppers lent a brightness to each mouthful. Succulent, stuffed with herbs, butter tender and so flavorful, lamb loin like this is such a delight. So is dining with friends, and eating a great meal in my own home is really wonderful.
Easy Farro Pilaf
4 c cold water
1 bay leaf
1 T butter
1/2 a yellow onion, chopped fine
1/2 red bell pepper*, chopped fine
2 c chicken broth
2 T Champagne vinegar
A handful of parsley, roughly chopped
Pour the farro, cold water, bay leaf and salt in a medium pot with a lid and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover the pot and turn down the heat to very low and let the farro simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and let it hold in the strainer while you prepare the pilaf part.
In the same pan, melt the butter over medium heat and sauté the onion and bell pepper with a small pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until the onions are tender and translucent.
Pop the partially cooked farro back into the pan and stir around for a few minutes until the farro is a tiny bit browned in the buttery onions.
Pour in the chicken stock, just until the farro is almost covered in the broth. You might not need the full 2 cups. Taste for salt and add a few grinds of pepper. Put the lid back on the pot and turn the heat down again to very low. Simmer covered for 15 minutes.
The farro should be tender but toothsome, not mushy, and should have absorbed all the broth. Pour in the vinegar and the parsley, stir well, and serve hot.
Note: for the peppers in my pilaf I used a handful of those sweet miniature peppers that you often see in the market in a little plastic clamshell.
If you don’t have a nice light vinegar like the Champagne vinegar I had in the pantry, lemon juice would also be wonderful in the pilaf.
For a vegetarian entree, add 2 cups of chopped butternut squash to the sauté pan with the onions and peppers. Use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.
The farro pilaf is also a great base for a cold farro salad, just chill, add more vinegar, a few tablespoons of olive oil and some fresh minced vegetables such as green onion, carrot, celery, radish, fennel, etc.
Final note: Although this meal sounds rich and decadent, it really was very healthy. Lamb is very lean and most of the lardo melted away after protecting the lamb from drying out. The farro is a whole grain and we have all been reading how important it is to add more whole grains to our diet. The butter in the farro is really more for flavoring and although I feel it is essential it is fine to substitute olive oil.
I have a lot of lamb left to cook up from my CSA box, it’s going to be a great spring!