Hudson-based food pro Colu Henry shares a mouthwatering recipe for crispy lamb from her new cookbook, Colu Cooks: Easy Fancy Food.
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This is my hot take on cumin lamb inspired by the many Szechuan restaurants I visit as frequently as I can. It’s clearly not authentic, but it sure does taste good and works well when I can’t pop down to Chinatown in the city for a quick fix. I like taking the leeks and celery to the edge of caramelization, giving them golden crunchy edges, but still keeping some of that celery snap. I serve this dish in leaves of vegetables such as cabbage, radicchio, or butter lettuce for scooping up the crispy meat, and alongside a bowl of steamed rice.
Crispy Lamb With Cumin, Leeks, and Celery
Recipe from Colu Cooks: Easy Fancy Food
2 to 3 Tbsp grapeseed or canola oil
2 medium leeks, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced
2 ribs celery, sliced ½-inch thick on the bias, plus ¼ cup roughly chopped celery leaves for garnish
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 chile peppers, such as cayenne, Fresno, or serrano, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
1 pound ground lamb
2 Tbsp thinly sliced green onions (green parts only)
¼ cup roughly chopped loosely and packed fresh cilantro (both leaves and tender stems)
Lime wedges, for serving
Leaves of cabbage, radicchio, or butter lettuce, for serving
Steamed rice, for serving
Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil and when it shimmers, add the leeks, celery, garlic, chiles, and cumin seeds. Season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks have softened and are starting to brown around the edges and the cumin seeds are aromatic, 5–7 minutes. Spoon into a large bowl and set aside.
If the pan looks dry, add the additional tablespoon of oil, and then add the lamb to the pan in one even layer. Flatten the meat with the back of a spatula or spoon and cook undisturbed for 5–7 minutes, allowing the lamb to get brown and crispy in spots. Season with salt and flip to ensure even browning, about 5 minutes more. Break into bite-size pieces with the spatula.
With a slotted spoon, transfer the lamb to the leek and celery mixture and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly. Top with the celery leaves, green onions, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.
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