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One day I'll be bored enough to decide to try to make my own ketchup, but right now nothing equals Heinz. Futzing around with whole heads of garlic and the papery skin is just a little annoying.
I don't eat fast food very often, but I do like a good quarter founder with cheese now and then, supersize the Coke and fries and to hell with the pearl-clutchers. Sure, sometimes the hippy-dippy Seven Whole Grain Colon Blow Quinoa Explosion stuff is fine if you add some fruit, but I'm Generation X; give me a couple bowls of Captain Crunch Oops All-Berries.
Lamb plays an important part in the cuisines and cultures of the Middle East so it's no surprise that there are loads of unique ways of preparing it in the region. For this dish, it's going to be marinated in an onion marinade overnight, then roasted until it's fall off the bone tender.
Throughout the region there must be over 50 unique ways to cook a Lamb Leg, from Yemeni cumin crusted Aneesh and fragrant Iraqi Kauai to Saudi Kansas and Omani Shula, they're all unique in their own way and absolutely delicious. Today I want to show you how to make a Faked the Egyptian way, it's a very simple recipe that produces outstanding flavors and a roast that's hard to forget.
What makes Egyptian Faked different from the others in the Middle East is the marinade we'll be applying to it. Many of the recipes in the region utilize an array of spices and herbs to impart layers of flavors upon the lamb leg, but the Egyptian one is kept fairly simple using just 4 ingredients for the marinade; Onions, Salt, Pepper and Garlic.
The marinade is put together by blending the ingredients into a fine paste, then it's applied to the lamb leg before allowing it to marinate for a minimum of 12 hours. This marinade however is not just there to infuse the lamb leg with flavors, it also serves an important part in tenderizing the meat.
You see onions contain a significant amount of Protease, which is an enzyme that breaks down protein, the process of marinating the lamb leg in onions actually results in meat that is more tender and digestible than one that was not marinated. When left to marinate for a significant amount of time, the protease is able to break down most of the tough protein fibers you get in a hardworking muscle like a lamb leg.
Our marinade is made quite salty and over the 12-hour marinade, the salt works its way to a perfect equilibrium with the meat, meaning every single bite of lamb is perfectly seasoned and juicy. Technically they're both legs, but they are sold under different names, and I think it's worth getting hold of a lamb shoulder if you can.
Lamb legs are larger though, and they're a simpler roast to work with as they only have a singular bone (or two if you count the shank). Then I poke it with holes and stuff each one with whole peppercorns and garlic, I find that this leads to little pockets of garlicky peppery meat which are a nice addition.
This gives the meat just a slight hint of a spiced flavor but nothing overpowering. Instead, I choose to go for a hybrid approach, and at the 2.5 hour mark, I pull my lamb out of the oven and add any accumulated pan juices or fat to the vegetable coating.
In a leg or shoulder, there's three distinct sections of meat that have different textures and flavors. It's not everyone's cup of tea though, and for some people the gelatinous texture can be off-putting, so instead for them I recommend the area immediately above the shank bone.
This area still has quite a bit of fat, but a more traditional muscle structure that doesn't contain a lot of collagen. Lamb is extremely important to the different cultures of the Middle East and sheep have been raised in the area for millennia.
Since then the animals have played an important part as both a source of food, drink and clothing. Indeed, many of the regions cheeses are still made with Sheep or Goat's milk to this day including Halloumi, Feta and Spanglish.
In both Christianity and Islam, sheep play an important part in their holy books. It's part of the Islamic faith to commemorate that sacrifice every year with the Feast of EID UL Ada.
In nearly all middle eastern countries that animal will be a sheep and that is one of the reasons why lamb continues to play a large part in the cuisines of the region Apart from religious festivities Lamb legs are also served at all manner of feasts or large dinners especially when you have guests coming around.
It's an impressive dish to plate but also a sign of respect when you serve something as precious as that to a guest. In the Middle East the shank is considered the most prized part of a lamb leg, and it's not uncommon for it to be presented to your most important guest.
The older a sheep gets before slaughter the more that flavor develops, and in some countries the gaminess is actually prized. Once you reach the mutton stage, the meat will have a significant Gama flavor that is not very far off from deer or elk.
The pepper and garlic in the marinade will lend the lamb some additional flavor, though don't expect it to be particularly garlicky or peppery. Having said that, if you come across a pocket where the lamb was studded with garlic or pepper, that will be significantly more flavored and is a nice treat to find while eating.
For the vegetables they have a delicious caramelized flavor that comes from the onion topping that is added to them. The carrots will be soft and sweet, with a caramelized onion exterior that lends them some depth and savoriness.
The Potatoes like the carrots will be savory, and they will also do well to absorb some lamb fat, making them absolutely delicious. Peel your garlic and onions, and roughly chop to a size that is manageable for your food processor or blender.
Add all the marinade ingredients to your blender/food processor and process into a fine paste. Prepare your lamb leg by trimming excess fat where desired.
Grate nutmeg onto both sides of the lamb leg making sure to get an even and light dusting over the whole thing. Around the 2.5 and 3 hour marks remove and check to seed oneness by poking with a dinner knife.
If your lamb shoulder or leg won't fit in the pan, you can cut through the joint of the shank to either remove it completely or just make it easier to bend The other night my cousin was having me watch some chicken thighs in a pan for her while she did other things.
A few days ago I commented on a thread in another food sub where the concept of secret recipes was being discussed. This idea doesn't stand in my family, where handwritten cookbooks pay homage to the chef and get past down through generations.
Today, I read this article and thought to share one of my family's recipes too. My grandmother left us long before COVID-19, but her peanut butter blossoms live on.