peppercorns

Cumin Lamb with Sichuan Peppercorns

by Anne Maxfield on May 6, 2019

Accidental Locavore Cumin Lamb Maybe it’s the time of year, or maybe it’s because the one decent Chinese restaurant closed, but I’ve been on kind of an Oriental run lately and this lamb dish, was part of it. Serves 4:

Cumin Lamb with Sichuan Peppercorns

  • 1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons Sichuan or regular peppercorns
  • 1 pound boneless lamb
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 to 8 dried red chiles (or substitute 1/2 teaspoon or more crushed red pepper)
  • 1 large white onion
  • 1 bunch (about 8) scallions, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Chinese cooking sherry or dry sherry
  • 2 cups fresh cilantro, leaves and stems

In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast cumin seeds and peppercorns until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and crush lightly.

Slice meat across the grain into 1/2-inch-thick strips. Toss meat with crushed spices, ground cumin, salt and dried chiles.

Accidental Locavore Cumin Lamb MixPeel onion and halve it through the root end. Trim the ends and cut each half lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Cut white and light green parts of scallions into 2-inch lengths. Thinly slice scallion greens; keep separate.

Accidental Locavore Cumin Lamb PrepHeat a very large skillet or wok over high heat until screaming hot, about 5 minutes. Add oil. Toss in onion and the scallion bottoms. Cook, tossing occasionally, until vegetables are lightly charred but still crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Add lamb and chiles to skillet. Cook, tossing quickly, until meat begins to brown. Add garlic, soy sauce and sherry. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and lamb is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Toss in onions and scallion bottoms. Remove from heat and mix in cilantro and scallion greens. Serve hot, over rice and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Cumin Lamb CookingMy verdict: Another “you can make this anytime” from Frank. It’s hot but not killer, most of the heat coming from the Sichuan peppercorns. If you don’t have them, it will work with regular peppercorns, but won’t have the interesting kick you get from the Sichuan ones.

Since it was close to Easter when I made this, I was able to find a nice small piece of boneless leg of lamb which worked well, but if you don’t mind working around the bones, shoulder chops would work, and are generally a lot less expensive.

I didn’t have any peanut oil, so just used regular vegetable oil and it worked fine. You don’t want olive oil here, because you’re using high heat. Same story with the Chinese cooking sherry—just use dry sherry if you have it.

As you can see from the top photo, we had some green beans in the fridge, so I just tossed them in when I added the lamb and chiles.

 

 

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Steak au Poivre Recipe

by Anne Maxfield on March 30, 2017

Accidental Locavore Peppercorns for Steak au PoivreUntil fairly recently, steak au poivre was one of those dishes I never understood.

Too many peppercorns, disguising one of my favorite flavors – steak.

Then in Nice, I had an attitude-changing steak au poivre.

A perfect amount of peppercorns, cognac and cream.

Enhancing, rather than masking the essential steak flavor.

Accidental Locavore French Steak au PoivreIn the mood to recreate it I tried to find a simple recipe. Since Alton Brown is usually unbelievably obsessive, his recipe looked like what I was longing for. Serves 4:

Steak au Poivre Recipe

  • 4 tenderloin steaks, 6 to 8 ounces each and no more than 1 1/2 inches thick
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup Cognac plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Accidental Locavore Peppercorns on Steak au PoivreRemove the steaks from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature.

Sprinkle all sides with salt.

Coarsely crush the peppercorns with a mortar and pestle, or the bottom of a cast iron skillet.

Spread the peppercorns evenly onto a plate. Press the steaks into the pepper until it coats all the surfaces. Set aside.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and olive oil. As soon as the butter and oil begin to turn golden and smoke, place the steaks in the pan. For medium-rare, cook for 4 minutes on each side. Once done, remove the steaks to a plate, tent with foil and set aside. Pour off the excess fat but do not wipe or scrape the pan clean.

Remove the pan from the heat, add 1/3 cup Cognac to the pan and very carefully ignite the alcohol with a long match or firestick. Gently shake pan until the flames die.

Return the pan to medium heat and add the cream. Bring the mixture to a boil and whisk until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, approximately 5 to 6 minutes. Add the tablespoon of Cognac, taste and adjust the seasonings. Add the steaks back to the pan, spoon the sauce over, serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore My Steak au PoivreMy verdict: First of all, be very careful when you’re setting any alcohol on fire (and always hold the pan away from yourself)!! Even though I was really paying attention, the height of the flames was a little scary.

We had a mystery steak in the freezer that I used for this. Something local and not Skittle-fed. I’m not terribly fond of tenderloin and the French generally use entrecôte which is sort of similar to a strip steak. In other word, while it wasn’t the best steak, it wasn’t the steak’s fault.

Because I wasn’t sure what it was, I coated it with the crushed peppercorns—some good ones I had brought back from France and cooked it sous-vide (125° for 90 minutes if you’re interested). Perfectly cooked.

The sauce was another story. I’m not sure what the problem was. I used good ingredients (and followed the recipe) but it was pretty ho-hum. Certainly nowhere near life-changing!

Do you have a good recipe for steak au poivre, or any suggestions?

 

 

 

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Spiced Lamb Kebabs with Yogurt Sauce

by Anne Maxfield on June 16, 2016

Accidental Locavore Lamb Kebabs ReadyWho doesn’t like kebabs? The latest bon appetit had some great ideas and the Accidental Locavore had some local lamb (still working off the freezer).

There are three steps to making this version with lamb, but they’re all easy and you can do the spice rub and yogurt ahead of time. Serves 4:

Spice rub:

  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns or 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 2teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and pepper

Accidental Locavore Spice Blend for KebabsLamb:

  • Vegetable oil (for grill)
  • 1¼pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces

Yogurt:

  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • ½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • Lemon zest

Rub: Coarsely grind cumin seeds, peppercorns, caraway seeds, red pepper flakes, sugar salt and pepper in spice mill or with mortar and pestle.

Accidental Locavore Lamb Kebabs Close UpLamb: Prepare a grill for medium-high, indirect heat (for a charcoal grill, bank coals on one side of grill; for a gas grill, leave one or two burners off). Oil grates. Thread lamb onto 6–8 skewers, leaving a small gap between each piece of meat. Sprinkle generously with spice blend, pressing it onto the meat with your hands to help it adhere if needed.

Grill lamb over direct heat, turning every minute or so, until browned and beginning to char in spots, about 4 minutes. Move to cooler side of grill and continue to grill until lamb is cooked to desired doneness, about 4 minutes longer for medium-rare. 


Accidental Locavore Yogurt Sauce for KebabsYogurt sauce: Stir garlic, lemon zest, and lemon juice into yogurt in a small bowl to combine; season with salt and pepper. Top garlic yogurt with cracked black pepper and a little lemon zest. Serve with the lamb and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Lamb Kebabs With Baked RiceMy verdict: If you’re looking for something to go with the baked rice, this is what we paired with it and it was a great dinner! Frank doesn’t think it’s really a kebab without veggies, so he added mushrooms, red peppers, cherry tomatoes, red onions and some lamb sausage to the skewers which meant we could have fed 6 easily. I “marinated” the lamb in the rub overnight and I’m not sure if that’s why it seemed a little overly peppery. Next time, maybe start with a heaping teaspoon of Sichuan peppercorns and add accordingly.

If you don’t have a grill, you know a grill pan will work just fine.

The yogurt sauce is delicious (and calmed the heat from the peppercorns a bit). Definitely make it if you’re doing the kebabs. There was a little leftover which I added some olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to and used it for salad dressing the next day. Need to remember that!

 

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