Slow-Cooked Lamb with Whole Corn Polenta

Yield: 36 bite sized hors d’oeuvres

I love the taste and texture of polenta. During the summer months, when sweet corn is abundant, I add the corn kernels and scrape the corn milk form the cob to add to the polenta. It gives the dish a wonderful, full corn flavor.

This recipe makes a firm, yet very soft polenta that can be cut in circles or squares. I like to serve this as an hors d’oeuvre by cutting a small circle and topping it with the lamb shoulder.

We sometimes cook whole lamb on a spit, where they cook for 4-6 hours slowly turning over the fire. Slow cooking a shoulder is the next best thing. The shoulder has plenty of fat (which is rendered out as it cooks) to keep it moist and tender through long slow cooking.

Lamb:

  • 3-4 pound lamb shoulder, boneless & tied
  • 1 cup Pinot Noir
  • 5 each garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, fresh
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • To taste salt and pepper

Method:

Ask your butcher to remove the bones from the lamb shoulder for you and to tie it up as a roast. Most times, they use a “net” for tying roasts these days. The advantage of this is that you can remove the roast from the net and marinate “open” for best flavor.

Combine all the ingredients and marinate the lamb “open” overnight (if you were able to remove the net) by placing it in a large zip lock bag or by placing it in a baking dish and turning it a few times.

The next day, place it back in the net, or leave it “as is” if you’ve left it tied. If you have a rotisserie on your grill, skewer the shoulder on the spit and cook it over slow heat for 3 hours with a pan to catch the drippings under it, until the meat is tender enough to be easily pulled apart. It should be golden brown and nicely crisp on the outside.

If you have a grill with a cover, you can start a small fire of coals (or gas fire) on the outer ends of the BBQ and place the meat in the middle with no flame directly below it and cook for the same amount of time as above with the same basic instructions.

The final option is to slow cook it in your oven at the lowest setting your oven has (it can be 200 – 250 degrees F). Place the lamb with the marinade in a covered baking dish for the first 2 hours. Remove the cover and turn the temperature to 300 degrees and cook it until very tender. You can add a small amount of water to keep the drippings from completely disappearing, but have no more than a 1/4 cup in the bottom of the pan.

The meat should be moist and tender any way you’ve done it if you’ve kept the temperature low enough. Remove the lamb from the heat, allow to cool and “pull” the meat apart in chunks. Remove the fat from the drippings pan and mix the meat gently with any juice that has accumulated to absorb it back into the meat. Cover and chill for use any time in the next few days.

The serve, warm/crisp the polenta and place some re-warmed pulled lamb on top.

Polenta:

  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1/4 each yellow onion, minced
  • 2 each ears of corn
  • 3 cups water
  • 1  cup milk
  • 1 cup polenta, instant
  • ½ cup Reggiano Parmesan
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • To taste  kosher salt and white pepper
  • 1Tablespoon Extra virgin Olive oil

Shuck the corn and rinse off all the corn silk from the ear. Cut off all corn kernels from both the ears of corn. Then, take the back of the knife and scrape the corncob to remove any corn and corn milk from the cob. Scrape this directly onto the pile of corn kernels.

In medium heavy bottom pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add the onion and sweat until soft but not brown.  Add the corn and corn milk and cook covered for 3 minutes.

Add milk and water and bring to boil.  Add a small amount of salt to give the water a very slight salty taste. Whisk in the polenta.  Lower heat and cook stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for about 10 – 20 minutes until the polenta is cooked. You can tell when it is cooked by tasting. It should still have a bit of a gritty texture.  Remove from heat and add Parmesan, olive oil and the rest of the butter.  Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

Pour into a buttered baking dish so that the mixture is ½ to ¾” high. Allow to cool and place in the refrigerator overnight to firm up. Cut any shape you’d like, remove from the baking dish and set them on a buttered or oiled baking sheet.

When ready to serve, place in a hot oven, under the broiler or on the grill to warm and crisp the outside.

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