I bought and butchered an entire leg of lamb last night, in advance of tonight's dinner party for M's friend's birthday. The leg of lamb was $29 at Fairway Market on the West side, a little more than half what FreshDirect wanted for a boneless leg of lamb. I wasn't super-clear on what I was doing, but it all seems to have worked out. I took the top portion for a tied, boneless roast, the major muscle on the inside (?) got set aside for an eventual lamb curry, and the rest of it, silverskin and all, got chopped up and thrown in the Cuisinart for stuffed grape leaves.
It was my first time butchering a leg of lamb and I found it relatively easy. I tried using my Japanese knife first, but found that the tip just wasn't sharp enough, and the blade was too wide, making it not very nimble. Being that I don't have a boning knife, I just used my Henckel parer and got some pretty good results. The removed bone looked appropriately creepy. I wish I'd taken photos. And there wasn't much waste. All told, I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.
Made some hummus this morning for tonight's dinner, too. It seems to me that hummus is probably the most abused appetizer/side dish of all time. How many freakin' poetry readings have been accompanied by some limp veggies and gummy, grainy pureed chickpeas with a little tahini? Hummus is cheap and easy, which means it takes special attention and good ingredients to make it anything more than workaday. Chickpeas are cheap, yes, but you're not going to go broke laying on thick with the tahini, so when I made it this morning, I treated it as more of an olive oil delivery system, with the chickpeas and tahini serving basically as an emulsifier for the oily goodness. I made it with a lot of Umbrian olive oil brought back from Orvieto, a lot of tahini, and a good hit of cayenne. It's pretty strong-tasting, with two lemons and two cloves of garlic to one can of chickpeas. I left the food processor running, adding water and drizzling in olive oil until I got more of a light, whipped consistency than the normal paste. This makes it a lot more satisfying in my book.
More to come...