Just days before I left New York for my California vacation I was lucky enough to finally get into the brand new Sur La Table kitchen on West 57th Street. Even better than being in the kitchen was the occasion- a celebration of American Lamb with South Gate Restaurant's executive chef Kerry Heffernan. As you may remember from Lamb Jam 2011, I depend on the American Lamb Board for my constant sheep-a-licious education. Chef Kerry's class was yet another lesson for me on my way to becoming a master of lamb. My fellow classmates and I were not only fed dishes using lamb in extremely fresh ways, we also had the shepherdess, Lisa Webster, in the house to tell us more about the animal we were eating.
|Chef Kerry Heffernan|
After learning about the product, it was time to get cooking. Just a note, Sur La Table classes are mostly hands-on, however because of Chef Kerry's renown the class was taught as a demonstration without class participation. I was personally happy to sit back and watch as three delicious courses were prepared and served to me while I sat back learning new techniques and about new ingredients along the way.
|Marinated Lamb Loin Chops with Grapefruit |
and Rutabaga Gratin
The first dish was an adorable t-bone lamb steak (yes, lamb is cute when its alive and cute on the plate!). Chef Kerry and his crew marinated the loin chops with grapefruit zest, thyme, garlic and olive oil overnight. The t-bones were seared in a grill pan and served with a pistou of parsley, marjoram, basil, garlic, grapefruit and olive oil in a dark green swipe across the plate. A sweet, creamy stack of rutabaga gratin complimented the chew of the tender lamb pieces and everything was brightened by the verdure of the sauce. The plate was finished with a little reduced veal stock and a sauteed scallion. I'm not sure I'd ever eaten such a simply flavored and enticing piece of lamb. At Lamb Jam I enjoyed some real winners, certainly, but this was different. The marinade infused the meat with subtle flavor and there was not a hint of gaminess in the meat itself. Also, rutabagas are highly underrated. It is one of those ugly, winter vegetables that is easily over looked- but when paid a little attention is more intriguing than our well loved potato. Chef Kerry likes to serve rutabaga puree beside mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving and it is always the rutabaga his family and friends go to for seconds. It gets sweet and has a clean bite without being fibrous or grainy when cooked. Try it out- remember to cut off the (likely) waxed outer layer.
|Saute of Lamb Leg, Lime, Dried Chili and Scallion|
Next up was a very Thai take on cooking lamb. Chef Kerry created a mix of flavors and textures that was as welcome on a snowy winter evening in Manhattan as it would be at the height of a sweltering summer in Bangkok. The combination of lemongrass infused veal stock, sauteed medallions
of lamb and Thai flavors of chili, lime, soy sauce, mint and Thai basil took my taste buds on a dizzying spin where they were left asking themselves: "Was that really lamb?". Lamb and lime together was its own surprise, but seeing tender pieces of lamb tossed in this bowl of bold, fresh flavors was enlightening. Lamb doesn't have to be heavy or served with equally weighty sides. It can embody the squeeze of a wedge of citrus, bouncing perkily on your tongue. Thank goodness this class came with a recipe booklet.
|Braised Lamb Shanks with Juniper, Rosemary and Orange |
with Farro and Parsnips
As you can tell, even though this class was not hands on, I learned plenty of things. New techniques, interesting flavor profiles and I was able to try ingredients for the first time that I hope to now add to my pantry. Lisa Webster's carefully raised lamb and Chef Kerry Heffernan's cooking creativity came together as a small masterpiece on a meaty, American canvas. I would certainly eat Chef Kerry's food again (and hopefully will at South Gate). Next time I'm in Whole Foods I will ask about North Star Sheep Farm's meat. And lastly, I would recommend attending classes at Sur La Table's stunning, brand new kitchen on W. 57th Street.
|Lisa Webster, myself, Chef Kerry Heffernan|
Chef Kerry Heffernan Lamb Cooking Class 2/8/2012
Follow Chef Kerry: @kheffernan212
Follow The American Lamb Board: @FANofLAMB
Follow Sur La Table: @Sur_La_Table
Visit North Star Sheep Farm: www.nsfarms.com