This is a dish that combines a lot of classic combinations (mint and lamb, mint and carrots) that at the same time is earthy and bright. Smoking the lamb is not necessary but it does add a depth of flavor that simply cannot be replicated by other cooking methods.
Chef De Cuisine, Josua Perez, knew lamb had to be on the menu at the Americano restaurant, but mint jelly was a dated pairing. The classic dish needed updating, and a contemporary flair. The restaurant uses salsa verde regularly, and the addition of mint serves as an herbaceous element. The feta in the salsa verde is a nod to the restaurant’s Mediterranean brethren. Since baby carrots are in season, the rest just fell into place. Essentially, with any dish he tries to create counterpoints and balance. Salty, (feta) sweet, (baby carrots) sour, (lemon) umami, (lamb) spicy (Merguez sausage.) This dish is simple and rustic, but it satisfies all these criteria. Plus it tastes good. Bonus points!
Smoked Lamb Loin with Merguez Sausage, Farro, Baby Carrots With Mint Feta Salsa Verde
- 4 – 8oz. lamb loins
- 2 teaspoons whole cumin seed
- 2 teaspoons whole coriander seed
- 2 teaspoons whole fennel seed
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 tablespoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 pounds lamb shoulder, cut into 3/4-inch cubes and removed of gristle
- 1 pound pork fat, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons freshly minced garlic (about 6 medium cloves)
- 1/3 cup harissa
- 1/3 cup ice water
- caul fat soaked overnight
Mint Feta Salsa Verde
- 1 tablespoon chopped oregano leaves
- 1/4 c. chopped mint leaves
- 1 c. chopped parsley leaves
- 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 salt packed anchovy, rinsed and bones removed
- 1 small clove of garlic
- 1tablesppon rinsed and chopped capers
- 1 lemon
- 4oz. feta cheese, crumbled (we use Valbreso)
- salt and pepper
- 6 oz. of Farro
- 1 tablespoon butter
- half a small diced onion
- 1/2 lb fresh baby carrots, tops snipped
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
This recipe will make more than you’ll need, but sausage freezes well, and and you might as well make some extra for a rainy day.
Toast the seeds in a saute pan over medium heat making sure to keep them moving to avoid burning. Remove from heat when the seeds become fragrant. Pound the seeds in a mortar and pestle until they are a fine powder. In a small bowl combine ground seeds with salt, paprika, and cayenne. Place lamb and fat in a large bowl and combine the spice mixture as well as the garlic and harissa. Place in the refrigerator until ready to grind. It is important that the meat is cold when ground. Grind in a meat grinder fitted with a small die. Those preparing this meal in a commercial kitchen might want to use a product found on the Nella website (found here – www.nellaonline.com) where you can find various meat processors. Place the ground lamb in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low while slowly adding ice water. The mixture should be uniform and slightly sticky. Portion sausage into 1 1/2 oz-2oz portions, wrap lightly with caul fat and form into small patties.
To cook, heat a pan on medium heat and add the patties. Cook for about two minutes on each side depending on thickness.
Mint Feta Sauce Directions:
Place the garlic and anchovy in a mortar and pestle and pound until it is a smooth paste. Combine all ingredients together being careful to add the feta in last and gently fold it in, so that it doesn’t make the sauce look too homogenous.
For the farro bring a 6 qt pot of water to a boil. Season the water with salt as you would for pasta.
Add 6 oz. farro and cook until tender (this could take up to a half hour.) Once cooked, strain and let cool on a sheet pan.
In a small sautee pan set over a medium-low flame add 1 tablespoon butter and half a small diced onion. Season with salt and sweat until the onion is soft and translucent. Fold into the farro. Re-heat gently with a splash of water or stock before serving.
Peel and trim your baby carrots. In a straight-sided sautee pan with a lid place 1 tablespoon butter and the baby carrots in a single layer. Add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan, season with salt and set it over a medium-low flame and cover. Check on it periodically, if the water has evaporated and the carrots are not done simply add a little more water and braise until the carrots are tender. Ideally, by the end, the carrots will be tender and there will only be enough water and butter left in the pan to glaze the carrots.
Smoked Lamb Loin Directions:
If you have an electric smoker, then follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If you don’t you can still make a smoker out of common kitchen wares. Get a large roasting pan, set a disposable pie pan with a layer of soaked smoking chips in it. Set it over a burner on medium-low heat until the chips begin to smolder. Set a wire rack above the chips and place the seasoned lamb loins over it. Cover with foil and smoke for about 30-45 minutes.
At the restaurant we then place it in a vac bag and sous vide them for about an hour at 135º F to achieve a nice medium rare, then sear them just before serving. Or, you could simply pan roast them to the desired temperature. Allow to rest a few minutes before slicing and serving.
Eight Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94105