Reading up on the topic of pates, ballotines and gallantines for the upcoming Third Annual Great Western All Terrine Vehicle competition got me thinking about forcemeats. A forcemeat, for those unfamiliar with the term, is a combination of meat or vegetables bound with egg and/or cream and breadcrumbs. It could become a sausage, a quenelle, a pate in it's own right or be used to stuff another meat--I've seen this most commonly with poultry.
So when I found myself the owner of a small boneless leg of spring lamb on Tuesday, it seemed like a great idea to try a forcemeat stuffing. I hoped that it would provide an exciting addition of taste and texture as well as hold the slices of cooked meat together better perhaps than my usual favorite stuffing of spinach and feta cheese because of it's ability to get into every nook and cranny.
And it did exactly that last night. It was, in fact, in both looks and taste the most sophisticated roast lamb I've ever prepared. Oh, and though I originally had my heart set on veal, unable to find that I used pork and can report after the fact that in this preparation the difference was indiscernible. Might as well use the cheaper and more plentiful pork.
Here's the recipe that was more than sufficient for a two pound (weighed without bone) leg:
1 tbsp butter
3 fresh shitake mushrooms (about 3" diameter), finely chopped
3 fresh crimini mushrooms (about 3" diameter), finely chopped
1 handful--about 1 cup--fresh oyster mushrooms, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tblsp finely chopped rosemary
1 tbslp fresh thyme leaves
1 tblsp chopped cilantro
1 tbsp whipping cream
4 ounces ground pork
1 small egg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
In a small skillet, melt the butter and saute the garlic and mushrooms until soft, about five minutes. Mix in the fresh herbs, then remove to a bowl. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then add the cream, breadcrumbs, pork, egg, salt and pepper. Mix by hand or pulse in a food processor for a finer texture.
Open the butterflied lamb inner side up on work surface. Since the lamb at this point is usually somewhat triangle-shaped and a uniform size will cook more evenly, cut some flaps of meat in the thicker parts and fold those back to make more of a rectangle shape. Spread the forcemeat over the surface being sure to press it into all of the grooves, then roll from the long side to creat one long roast. Tie with string.
Rub the outside of the lamb with olive oil, salt and pepper (and more fresh herb, if you like). Roast at 350 for about 20-25 minutes per pound or about 135 to 140 degrees for medium rare. Allow lamb to rest with a loose piece of foil over it or in a warm oven with the door open for about 30 minutes (15 would be okay for juice retention, but longer is better to hold the loaf shape when slicing).
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup panko bread crumbs
For those unfamiliar with the term, a forcemeat is a combination of meats and/or vegetables chopped and or ground and bound with cream, egg, and breadcrumbs or even a combination of all three as I used here.