Diana’s Birthday Lamb

July 16, 2008 | By | COMMENTS

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Cooking a big meal for a friend’s birthday is something that I enjoy, especially when that friend is Diana. But, inevitably, the party will end, the dishes will be stacked in the sink and, most devastating for a food blogger like me, there will 1,000 pictures of the meal in my camera and I’ll feel an overwhelming duty to blog. Especially when I spent the time to make Suzanne Goin’s chorizo-stuffed lamb from “Sunday Suppers at Lucques,” a recipe that Goin herself deems the most difficult in the book; I know my readers will want to hear about it. But the pictures have been on Flickr now for weeks and just the idea of taking you through this whole dinner, step by step, fills me with dread. Do you really want to know how it all went down, to the last detail? Aren’t you happy just to look at that pretty picture of Diana with those pretty flowers? Can we leave it at that? No? FINE, I’ll blog all about it. But first: Diana has a play debuting this week at Brown University called “Girls on the Clock”! For ticket info, click here. To see Diana’s birthday lamb, click ahead!

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Ok, I admit, it’s a gorgeous lamb. You want to know how I made it.

But here’s the deal: despite all the labor that went into it–going to the butcher to buy a deboned, butterflied leg–marinating it over night with garlic and rosemary and other herbs:

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And then stuffing it with a chorizo stuffing which wasn’t really a chorizo stuffing because I couldn’t find Mexican (uncooked) chorizo so I substituted it with hot Italian sausage cooked with smoked paprika;

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Despite all this effort, I stupidly overcooked the lamb!

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I know, I know, it looks pretty and pink but I wanted it RED. And it wasn’t nearly as juicy as it should’ve been. And the Romesco potatoes with homemade Romesco sauce–a sauce made of dried chiles and toasted bread and tomatoes–was too lumpy for my taste. I know I’m beating myself up too much (especially since everyone claimed to love the food!) but look at all the steps that went into the sauce and the potatoes and see if you don’t share my frustration that they weren’t sheer bliss…

First I soaked the dried chiles:

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Then I fried the bread in the skillet:

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Then I fried the soaked chiles:

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Then I added tomatoes:

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Then I blended the bread with toasted nuts:

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Then I added the tomato mixture:

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Then I drizzled in one cup of olive oil while it whirred until it became a sauce:

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Actually, it was a really flavorful sauce. It had a really deep, toasty, resonant flavor. But somehow when it was poured into a frying pan with Yukon Gold potatoes that’d been roasted in the oven, squished with my hands and fried with oil it became a lumpy mess:

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Still, the guests ate it up. Look how happy they are!

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An unqualified hit was the salad I served at the start: endive with a creamy lemon dressing.

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It’s a fun dressing: you do the normal combo of shallots, lemon juice and olive oil but then–here’s the twist–you add cream. It works wonderfully with endive, you should try it.

And the dessert, I admit, was also quite good. Strawberry shortcakes made with cornmeal, served with macerated strawberries and mint:

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So I suppose my trepidation in blogging about Diana’s dinner was really a reflection of my own perfectionism, how I wish every course were a bonafide hit. I do think, however, that one’s degree of satisfaction with a meal one cooks (what’s with all this “one” crap?) is a direct ratio of effort expended to the gastronomical payoff. And here, with this meal, I felt like all my efforts didn’t necessarily pay off.

But what am I saying? This was Diana’s birthday dinner and she loved it. And isn’t that the only thing that matters? Of course it is. So happy belated birthday Diana (it’s been more than a month) and break a leg this weekend with your play! If you win a Pulitzer, there’s a better, rarer leg of lamb in your future.

Tags: , ,

Categories: Meat, Recipes

  • ELE

    Looks great, Adam.

    Happy belated birthday to Diana. Congratulations on your play!

    ELE

  • http://ben.stupidfool.org/ Ben

    I love that lamb recipe… I made it a couple of months ago, along with the romesco potatoes, etc. It took 3 days to make; but then again, it took me 3 days to eat all of it, so it evened out. :)

    I’ve made the romesco a couple of times since–most recently, for the grilled pork burgers in the Lucques cookbook, which are absolutely incredible (as is the cole slaw recipe that goes along with the burgers).

  • ELE

    Looks great, Adam.

    Happy belated birthday to Diana. Congratulations on your play!

    ELE

  • http://thefoodmonsterblog.blogspot.com The Food Monster

    http://thefoodmonsterblog.blogspot.com

    Happy Birthday Diana.

    Adam, the Strawberry Mint Shortcake, is somehow, what I am most intrigued about. Although, the rest of the meal looks great. I especially liked the photo essay, nothing like photos of food to tell a story.

  • http://www.kattebelletje.com kattebelletje

    Somehow just dumping the photos on Flickr is so much easier… I know the feeling. Funny how you fry the Romesco, I only know about the oven roast tomatoes-and then whizzing kind. I’m impressed with all the cooking though! As for overcooking the lamb, why don’t you buy yourself one of these kitchen thermometers which will beep when the lamb is cooked to perfection?

  • Christine

    I’m really impressed you made the entire meal from the book! I really loved the potatoes when I made them, and from what I can see in your pictures, I think I left the potatoes in even bigger chunks, so that it was more like slightly smushed up papas bravas, instead of like mashed potatoes that are flavored like papas bravas…Anyways! I think you lamb looks great, and you’ve totally re-inspired me to crack open Sunday Suppers at Lucques and continue cooking my way through!

  • Christine

    I’m really impressed you made the entire meal from the book! I really loved the potatoes when I made them, and from what I can see in your pictures, I think I left the potatoes in even bigger chunks, so that it was more like slightly smushed up papas bravas, instead of like mashed potatoes that are flavored like papas bravas…Anyways! I think you lamb looks great, and you’ve totally re-inspired me to crack open Sunday Suppers at Lucques and continue cooking my way through!

  • http://jdeq.typepad.com Jerry

    The lamb looks great. Funny – it was my birthday the other day and I made lamb too. . . presumably it is the birthday ‘meal’.

  • http://mspirouette.blogspot.com/ Pirouette

    I love how you combine your friends and lifestyle experiences with your cooking. Makes it really fun to read.

  • http://chewonthatblog.com Hillary

    Happy belated birthday to Diana! I would like a rarer leg of lamb in my future (not that the original doesn’t look super good!) :)

  • http://www.cookingandeatinginthewindycity.blogspot.com Erin

    I hate when you put that much effort into a meal, and it turns out only ok. Although I think we’re always our own worst critics in the kitchen. It still sounds like a great meal, though! I’ve made romesco sauce before, but a shortcut version. Your potatoes look worth the effort to me!

  • http://www.cookingandeatinginthewindycity.blogspot.com Erin

    I hate when you put that much effort into a meal, and it turns out only ok. Although I think we’re always our own worst critics in the kitchen. It still sounds like a great meal, though! I’ve made romesco sauce before, but a shortcut version. Your potatoes look worth the effort to me!

  • Amy K

    I totally understand the whole perfectionist thing – I always want every course to be the best thing I’ve ever made or my guests have ever eaten. But what in life is perfect anyway? Your friends had a great time and that’s what counts. BTW, I’ve made several meals from Sunday Suppers and haven’t loved any of them quite honestly…although it could be the perfectionist in me..everyone raves about that cookbook.