The cool weather has put me in the mood to make hearty fall worthy dishes in spite of my wanting to continue to wear shorts and sandals, and play in the sun. Dishes that include root vegetables, and the many numerous annual trailing plants of the genus Cucurbita grown for their fleshy edible fruits- like pumpkins, butternut, and other varieties of squash. Many recipes using these fall vegetables have been appearing in magazines and on blogs since the beginning of September, and I was not sure this girl was ready. The grocery markets and roadside farms have been on the band wagon as well, so I gave in and purchased an assortment of fall vegetables for baking and making soup.
The lamb just followed Mary home... Oh, that is not my story!
Once I put this meal together in my head I began by preparing the spaghetti squash. Remove the stem, cut the squash in half, and microwave for about two and a half minutes to loosen up the seeds for removal. Garam masala is one of my favorite spices, and it just seemed a natural choice to add it to the recipe. Such a sweet/savory touch to this dish...Stash this is one for you!
50 grape leaves*
2 to 4 Lamb Shoulder Round Blade Chop* (meat optional; may season with stock)
1 sliced red onion
½ cup sun dried tomatoes
6 garlic cloves, whole
4 halved small red bliss potatoes
1 small spaghetti squash cut in half, and seeds removed
Drizzle with olive oil
Garam masala spice
Salt/pepper to taste
½ cup couscous
½ cup olive oil (EVO works fine)
¼ cup lemon/vinegar mixture
Place all ingredients into baking dish, and sprinkle with seasonings. Make sure you place some red onion and sun dried tomatoes inside of squash halves to help season during baking process.
Cover with foil and bake in 350 degree oven for 40 minutes until lamb and all other ingredients are tender.
Remove squash, and lamb from dish; mash potatoes into pan juices; add couscous, and cover pan for ten minutes; letting the couscous cook in the juices. Stirring occasionally to insure couscous is cooked through.
Take a fork and remove squash from its skin. (The cooked squash flesh shreds into threads like thin spaghetti or vermicelli, hence its name. Spaghetti squash has a very mild flavor, thus it is usually served with a sauce of some sort, and works perfectly as a filling like this.)
After lamb chops cool remove meat from bones, and mince with cleaver. (The meat of this cut is a bit tough, but the bone marrow and fat along with all ingredients cooking together will enhance the flavor of stuffing.)
Whisk olive oil and lemon/vinegar mixture together and set aside.
Fold minced meat, mashed potatoes, and squash into couscous. Stuff individual grape leaves with about one heaping teaspoon full of stuffing. Cover with oil and vinegar mixture and refrigerate overnight. After they have cured overnight, you may add them to a sauce pan, fitting them closely together; then pouring over juice from container, and adding extra lemon/vinegar mixture; cooking them on low for about 15 minutes or so. I enjoy eating them warm as a side with extra lamb, or a salad.
*If using fresh grape leaves, you'll need to do something to make them soft enough to work with. The traditional method is to place each leaf in boiling water for a few seconds, and then move it into a ready bowl with cold water. Repeat this for all the grape leaves you have. An easier method for the modern man is to place the leaves in a microwave for 1 minute to soften them up. Of course you can also buy grape leaves prepared in brine from the supermarket, but I find these very salty. If you purchase them in the jar- rinse them with cold water first to get rid of the excess salt.
I served this with a Greek salad, and pan seared a few Lamb Rib Chops with only a dash of salt and pepper for flavor.
Lamb Shoulder Round Blade Chop: I often purchase this cut of meat for braising, or even grilling after it has marinated over night; it can be found for as little as $2.99 a pound. The meat is a bit more chewy, but just as flavorful. As in cuts used for dishes like Osso Bucco, the bones will offer up a tasty marrow that adds a nice flavor to a dish, or just for eating along with the surrounding meat.
lamb blade chop = lamb shoulder blade chop = lamb shoulder block = shoulder lamb chop = shoulder blade lamb chop Notes: These are usually broiled, grilled, or pan-fried. Substitutes: lamb arm chop OR lamb loin chop OR lamb sirloin steak
"I experiment with Flavors"...
Elizabeth Stelling, hails from her home state of Texas and has been involved in the food industry via institutional, fast food, B&B's, ethnic eateries and other restaurants since she was fourteen. Now living n New Jersey she has ran her own cafe, teaches culinary classes, runs a small boutique catering and staffing business, restaurant consulting for NJWBO, is a personal chef and shares her love of cooking with local, organic, healthy, and natural ingredients with the community.
Chef E is a member of Slow Food and the American Wine Society, Princeton, New Jersey. She has published written works of poetry and media pieces, as well as ran Open Mics in the Princeton, NJ area.
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