What a perfect day. Sunny, breezy, in the low 70s, and smelling of high spring. We went out for most of the day. First, a short detour to look for arrowheads in a spot a neighbor told us has a good reputation. No luck. Then, lunch in Rhinebeck at Gigi, which is a perfectly nice place for lunch. Onward then to a nearby nursery, looking for thornless blackberries. They wanted the utterly ridiculous amount of $25 each for small, scrawny plants, so we left. Dutchess county kind of sucks that way sometimes.
Then, a lovely stroll at the Poets' Walk, where we got lots of sun and caught the breeze off the river. And last, a stop in Kingston to grab some grub for dinner. In this case, local lamb stew meat and bones. Once home, I roasted the bones and put them to cook with a carrot, a charred onion, a clove, a star anise pod, some parsley, a few peppercorns, and half a cinnamon stick. I also trimmed the stew meat and tossed it in a marinade of wine and coriander, cumin, fennel, and mustard seeds that I ground up with garlic, salt and pepper and mixed in. I did some gardening while the stock simmered, then came in with a handful of mixed herbs and greens to make pesto: radicchio, arugula, dandelion, chives, rosemary, oregano, peppermint, spearmint, thyme, and chrvil. I puréed it all with garlic and lots of olive oil to make a smooth, dark green paste.
I threaded the cubes (roughly) of meat onto skewers and lit the shichirin. While it reached nuclear hotness, I cubed and sautéed a sweet potato with a whole cinnamon stick and smashed garlic clove in some of the fat that had rendered off of the lamb bones when I roasted them. I tossed some (bought, sadly) flatbreads on the grill to toast and soften, and brought everything out onto the porch so we could continue to enjoy the gorgeousness of the day.
The meat cooked very quickly on the grill. Once the interior of the stove heats up–the inside of the barrel glows as brightly as the coals do– this thing gets so hot that anything cooks in seconds flat. I always overestimate the amount of charcoal needed, so there's tons of heat to spare. When it's still spring, though, and the evenings are cool, that heat is a welcome companion at an al fresco dinner.
I had really wanted to make a tzatziki-type sauce to go with this; there's nothing quite like the tangy, garlicky coolness of a yogurt sauce to make grilled lamb among the best foods in the whole world. But the rest of my family is off dairy for now, so instead I made a quick sauce of goat butter, red wine, and a bit of the lamb stock. (Butter is mostly fat, so it doesn't seem to have the same exacerbating effect on their allergies).
That was it; we folded these up and enjoyed the hell out of them. Bitter mash, sweet... uh... potatoes, rich, charred, tender, spice-infused meat, pillowy bread, and a buttery, winey sauce. I double dog dare you to make something better in as little time. For dessert, since like last time the furnace would not be denied, we grilled apple slices and drizzled them with honey. Afterward there was still a bit of honey left in the bowl, as you can see.