Perfect Appetizer for Fall
With fall right around the corner, thoughts of poolside parties and rosé give way to plans for cozy dinners of heartier fare served with glasses of sumptuous red wine.
This lamb recipe from Chef Richard Verhagen (Hurricane Kitchen - Paso Robles), is an appetizer that would be perfect for your fall and winter holiday entertaining. It's show stopping and delicious, yet easy to make, especially if you substitute store bought flatbread for the homemade. Let's face it, we all need little shortcuts here and there. No shortcuts on the wine, though. Asuncion Ridge Vineyards suggests pairing this dish with their 2015 "Salacious", a Rhone blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.
Seared and Roasted Leg of Lamb on Mediterranean Flatbread
(appetizer – serves approximately 50)
Preparing Lamb and Portobello Mushrooms (these should be prepared 1 day in advance and refrigerated)
one 3-4 lb. half-leg of lamb
portobello mushrooms (two 16 oz. packs of large mushroom caps or whole “baby bella” variety)
Montreal steak spice or pink Himalayan salt
1-2 tablespoons olive oil for searing
½ to 1 cup olive oil for marinade
red wine suitable for marinade
herbs de Provence
1 lemon, thinly sliced in rounds
3 shallots, peeled, cut in quarters
2 glass baking dishes or containers for marinating
cast iron skillet; or large skillet and separate roasting pan for lamb
roasting pan for portobello mushrooms
sturdy pair of tongs
Marinate lamb for at least 2 hours in red wine, olive oil, Worchestershire sauce, Montreal steak spice, and herbs de Provence.
Marinate portobello mushrooms in separate dish or container, using same marinade ingredients, for at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and sear the leg of lamb all over. This should take 2-3 minutes on each side. Use a sturdy pair of tongs to rotate the leg.
Place the sliced lemon rounds over and around the lamb. Add the quartered shallots around the lamb.
**If using a cast iron skillet, roast lamb directly in the skillet. If not, transfer lamb from skillet to roasting pan (add lemons and shallots to roasting pan).
Place the skillet (or roasting pan) with lamb in the oven and roast until a meat thermometer registers 135-140F for medium-rare; approximately 30 minutes.
Place marinated portobello mushrooms in a separate roasting pan, tent with foil, and roast approximately 30 minutes. This can be done at the same time the lamb is roasting.
Remove lamb and mushrooms from oven. Loosely tent the lamb with foil and let rest.
Allow lamb and mushrooms to cool, then place both in storage containers and refrigerate overnight.
Remove both lamb and mushrooms from refrigerator approximately one hour before serving, and slice each into an appropriate size for your appetizer. Neither should be heated before being served on the flatbread.
Preparing Mediterranean All-Purpose Flatbread
Makes 16 Flatbread
2 teaspoons (2 packets) instant yeast
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 3/4 cup (14 2/3 fl oz.) warm water (about 100 degrees, warm but not hot to the touch)
1/2 cup (4 fl oz.) warm milk (about 100 degrees, warm but not hot to the touch)
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
6 cups (29 oz.) bread flour -- keep 1/2 cup out and use as necessary.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, mix yeast, sugar, water, milk and 2 cups of flour until well combined.
Add another cup of flour, salt, and the oil. Continue to mix. Gradually add the rest of the flour reserving 1/2 cup. Continue mixing until a soft dough forms; dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl and be soft to the touch. Knead dough for 5-6 minutes, until soft and smooth.
Place dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, approximately one hour.
Divide the dough in half, then in half again. Out of each half measure out 8 pieces. They will be about 3 oz. each. Form each piece into a tight ball. Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and let the dough pieces rest for approximately 10 minutes -- this helps the dough relax, making it easier to roll out.
Work with one piece at a time on a floured surface. With a rolling pin, roll the dough from the center out. Turning the disc as you work. Roll the dough out to about 1/8-inch thick into a 6-inch circle. Cover with cloth as you work with another.
Heat a lightly oiled skillet to medium heat. When the skillet is hot, cook the flatbread for 2-3 minutes on the first side until it bubbles and puffs. Flip it over with tongs or spatula and cook on the second side until it is golden and spotty brown. Average cooking time for each side is 2-3 minutes.
Transfer flatbread to a plate and cover with a towel. Repeat with the remaining dough. If possible, use two skillets so the process goes more quickly.
Slice flatbread into desired size for service (approximately 3”-4” squares).
**Flatbread can be frozen and reheated if necessary. Let it cool and wrap each flatbread with plastic wrap. Gently reheat in aluminum foil in a low oven.
prepared basil pesto
crumbled feta cheese
Montreal steak spice
Assembling the Appetizer
spread basil pesto on slice of flatbread (approximately a 3” to 4” square)
lay 2-3 leaves of arugula over pesto
place a slice of lamb and slice of portobello mushroom on top of arugula
crumble feta cheese on top and add a sprinkle of Montreal steak spice