Baked Lamb & Honeyed Cheesecakes: A Grand Experiment

DSC_8139I may have mentioned somewhere that my new favorite book is A History of Food in 100 Recipes.  It’s a really cool book to geek out on, and most importantly each chapter is about 3 pages long, so it’s also a great book for the attention-span challenged

Well, I decided to try my hand at a couple of these old-to-ancient recipes.  The challenge was staying somewhat true to the original, while making something palatable to the tastes to which we have become accustomed.

This was made more difficult by the lack of specificity in these old recipes.  I mean, the recipe for the honeyed cheesecakes, in its entirety is: “Wheaten flour is wetted, and then put into a frying pan. after that, honey is sprinkled over it, and sesame and cheese.”

But doesn’t it sound intriguing?  Obviously, to me it was.

And so began my grand experiment to make a really old-fashioned meal.  On the menu were Muscules in Shelle, Baked Lamb Stuffed with Lamb Sausage and Honeyed Cheesecakes.

Baked LambDSC_8138

What You Need

  • 2.5 lb. lamb (I used leg of…)
  • 1/4 cup mint, chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup thyme (stripped off the stems)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 cup red wine (such as a pinot noir)
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 tbl minced shallots
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • toothpicks or other skewers

What To Do with It

Trim the fat from the lamb. Reserve.

Preheat an oven to 350.  Put the wine, stock and shallots in a sauce pot and begin reducing on medium (reduce to about 1/3).

Slice the lamb into strips approximately 1/2″ thick.  Thinner is better than thicker.

Run the fat and any meat trimmings through a grinder.  Add the spices and seasonings and mix well.  You’ve just made lamb sausage! Now, take about 2 tsp of the sausage and place it at one end of a strip of lamb. Roll it up and secure with a toothpick.

Beat the egg, coat each lamb roll in egg and dredge in the breadcrumbs. Bake at 350 for approximately 45 minutes (maybe less, depending on the size of your baking dish).  Finish with a broiler if necessary (this will depend on how crowded your pan was).

Add the cream to the sauce. I served this with julienned carrots and red swiss chard sautéed together and spaghetti squash.

Honeyed Cheese Cakes

What You Need

  • 3/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 5 oz pomegranate seeds
  • zest of 1/2 lime
  • 1/3-ish cup honey (maybe more, depending on how much sweetness you like)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 3.5 oz soft goat cheese
  • 9 oz. ricotta (I used one that was 50% goat’s milk)

What To Do with It

Bring the vinegar & pomegranate seeds to a boil.  Let simmer on low for 45 minutes.  Mash the seeds in a fine strainer to extract all the juice possible.  Reduce further until it is quite viscous (about 1/4 cup remaining),

Combine the honey, lemon zest and 1/4 cup water.  Simmer 30 minutes, reducing slightly. (The water will help you not burn the honey while you infuse it with the lemon zest.)

Beat the egg.  Mix it with the cheeses. Add flour and shape into 4 rounds.  Flatten to about 1 1/4″ thick and place in a baking dish that has been lightly coated with olive oil.  Bake approximately 40 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

Remove from oven and drizzle the honey over the cakes, letting any excess sit in the bottom of the baking dish.  Let the cakes sit in that for 20-30 minutes, turning once.  Slice into quarters and drizzle with the pomegranate reduction. Enjoy!

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