Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Roast lamb with knotweed

Japanese knotweed spears pushing out in early April.

I like the shortest, fattest spears, like the ones above. When they are this young little prep is necessary. With older stems I cut out and throw away the joints inside the stems (brilliant engineering, like bamboo). But do wash them in a basin of cold water to dislodge any soil and grit.

Easter Lamb:

4 cups young Japanese knotweed, sliced into 4" - 6" lengths as a bed for the lamb. 
1 cup field garlic bulbs, whole
1/4 cup slivered field garlic bulbs
1 leg of lamb, about 5 lbs
Salt and pepper

Place the knotweed and field garlic in a lightly oiled large cast iron skillet or roasting pan. Season both vegetables with some salt. 

Spike the leg of lamb in a dozen places with two or three thing slivers of the field garlic bulbs. Lay the lamb leg on top of the wild vegetables in the skillet, squeeze one lemon's juice over the meat, and season with salt and pepper. Add one cup of water to the dish.

Roast at 350'F/180'C for 15 minutes to the pound (500gr) - for medium rare. Cover with a lid or with foil for the first hour, then expose to the dry heat of the oven. 

Rest for at least 15 minutes, afterwards, covered. Scrape up the knotweed and arrange with the lamb in its (the lamb's) juices on a serving platter.

I made a potato gratin to go with the lamb, cooked in a skillet in the oven for an hour. It, too, was spiked with matchsticks of garlic and a little butter and cooked in enough water to cover. But in its last half hour I added some cream, which is absorbed and leaves a stickily delicious crust on the top layer of potatoes.

(If you can't find knotweed, use a lot of spinach, a mountain of spinach, and some sorrel - or double the  lemon juice. Roast the lamb on top. The spinach will all but disappear.)

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