Let’s call this an ode to my butcher. One of my most used hashtags is #ilovemybutcher. I love using locally sourced food and meat. Starting the process with a good butcher adds so much to the experience of cooking a great meal. So, while this blog post may seem like an advertisement, it’s not meant to be. It is simply to show my appreciation for a local company that goes the extra mile for its customers.
I grew up in a time where we had old school neighbourhood butchers. You know, the kind that take pride in their product and are genuinely interested in what you’re cooking AND your success in cooking it. My butcher in North Burnaby up until 4 years ago was Rocky’s Meats on East Hastings Street on “The Heights”. I remember one time about 6 or 7 years ago. I went in to buy some beef short ribs for a dinner party the next day. The butcher asked me what I was cooking and how I was seasoning it. He was excited about a giving me a cooking tip and then he cut and packaged up those beautiful ribs for me. I tried to pay by debit/credit machine, but the system was down, and I had no cash on me! I told him I’d come by later, when the system was back up, to pay for and pick up my package. “Absolutely not!” he said. He was emphatic that I take the ribs home and come back to pay for them in a couple of days because I had a dinner party to prepare! He didn’t know my name (although he recognized me as a frequent customer), but he was willing to trust that I would come back “some other time” to pay for a very expensive purchase! Of course, I was back in an hour after the system came back up. He was the epitome of the old-style local butcher/merchant. I’ve never forgotten that and talk about it often.
Back then, when I lived in Burnaby, I had Rocky’s Meats and various other meat shops, Italian and German deli’s to source from. I was also only a 10 to 15-minute drive to many specialty shops in Vancouver. But, when I moved to Langley 4 years ago, I struggled to find the specialized ingredients here that I was able to source in Burnaby…until I found Heritage Meats Gourmet. They have the same kind of old school service that I appreciate so much (thank you John and Chris!) and they continue to be my primary source of specialty and local Fraser Valley meats, poultry, European deli and “gourmet” items.
I haven’t tried the “the debit/credit machine is down” trick yet but I’s sure they’d find a way to accommodate a loyal customer! I won’t test that though!
Ok, now to the recipe:
I went in to Heritage Gourmet Meats Gourmet the other day to pick up a beef burger blend they had prepared for me before that I intended to grind myself. By the way, do that! Grind your own beef burger blend (brisket, short rib and sirloin tip)! YUM! While I was there, a prepared roast (Greek Stuffed Lamb Breast Roll) in the display case caught my eye. Now, I rarely buy prepared food even if it is fresh from the local butcher, but it looked really good and it would’ve been an easy meal to prep. I asked Chris, the butcher, what he thought of it. Turns out, he had just prepared it and I would be the first to try it. He seemed genuinely excited to hear what I thought of it.
So, this post is my response to Chris! I’m not going to post a recipe for this because I didn’t prep it the roast, but I’ll tell you how I cooked it and what I served it with.
I told Chris I would sous vide it but, in the end, I roasted it in the oven as most of the recipes I saw for sous viding a stuffed lamb breast roll called for 18 to 24 hours and I’m not in that place yet to commit to 24 hours for a cook…yet!
About the Roast:
Lamb breast is really the belly of the lamb. It’s a very thin piece of meat with a thick layer of fat along the whole surface of it. Rolled into a “roast” is the way to go for this cut of meat. That fat is a good thing…you don’t have to (or want to) eat it, but it adds so much flavour to the meat and keeps it moist and fall off the fork tender during a long and slow cook.
The roast that Chris gave me was about 2.2 pounds and was rolled with a Greek bread stuffing flavoured with rosemary and garlic. This was good because, as I said, lamb breast is a thin cut of meat with a thick layer of fat, so the stuffing adds some substance to small amount of protein. If you like a lot of meat on your plate, this might not be the cut for you, but we really appreciated the blend of meat and stuffing.
Note: Chris suggested 4 hours in the oven. I didn’t have time for that and the roast turned out fantastic, however, had I cooked it longer, the fat would have rendered down much better but I don’t think I missed anything by the shorter cook. I may try a longer roasting next time just to compare. Also, next time, I’ll start at a much higher temperature, say 425 F and drop the temp down to 300 F when I put the roast in the oven. Again, for comparison.
I pan seared the roll on all sides in a smoking hot cast iron skillet with a dollop of duck fat (because duck fat makes EVERYTHING EVEN BETTER!).
After searing, I placed it in a covered roasting pan, with a cup of white wine, as recommended by Chris the Butcher, my new best friend (because cooking with wine makes EVERYTHING EVEN BETTER!) and roasted it at 320 F for 2 and a half hours. At about 40 minutes to go, I added about a half dozen halved (lengthwise) shallots and then whole carrots at about 20 minutes left.
I accompanied the lamb with warmed naan bread and a lemony, garlicky Mediterranean potato dip called “Skordalia” that I found on Serious Eats (a favorite cooking site). If you want an alternative to tzatziki or hummus, this is an interesting and yummy recipe. We’ve been eating with naan or tortilla chips. https://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2016/09/skordalia-greek-garlic-potato-spread-dip-recipe.html
For wine, I paired a beautiful VQA Summerhill Pyramid Winery 2013 Reserve Barrel Syrah from Kelowna, BC. Oh man it was good!!
The meal was fantastic! I would do it again. Thanks Chris…as far as I’m concerned you should add your Greek Stuffed Lamb Breast Roll to the regular rotation.
YUM! That was awesome!