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Grilled Lamb Steaks

Sadly you can't smell the onions...or the innocence. But they're both delicious.

Dear Chef Bourdain;

Maybe my lovely fiancee is on to something, with loving to devour any animal, and the more innocent the better. I think if I could find her a lamb that was voted “most innocent”  by the other lambs in its little lamby-school, she would think that was the most delicious lamb that ever lived. The thing is, she might be right.

Spring has sprung here in L.A., and surely this is one of the most beautiful places on earth at this time of year. The air is thick with blooming flowers and cool sea breezes. At night the jasmine opens up and perfumes every breeze. Particularly in my neighborhood of Venice, where there are so many quirky little cottages and houses, all of them with gardens where flowers grow with little effort – it’s a fine time to be alive.  And just now is when so many of these delightful little critters are born, gamboling innocently about the fields until such time as they’re konked on the heads and eaten. Sorry lamby-kins, but please believe, we really loved you.

All the hard work is done by those delightful little bastards, being delicious. Me, I just followed your instructions and marinated them overnight with some garlic, thyme and olive oil. Your instructions say to put the herbs and garlic on top, (after salt and pepper all over) and cover it with olive oil. I think, Chef, in the future, I’d rub the olive oil on and then add the herbs and garlic. Further, I’d like, triple the amount of garlic and double the herbs, because they were a little sparse on the meat.

Chopping up some onions and letting them sit with olive oil and seasoning to make a sort of crude relish was pretty nice. Other than that, you scrape off the herbs and put those steaks on a ripping hot grill. I was worried that the fairly thick steaks I got wouldn’t cook all the way through on the grill – usually I pan-fry and then roast in the oven. But it was plenty hot, and as you can see those steaks took some nice grill marks and finished quite perfectly. It was a little longer than two minutes on a side, but they were pretty thick. I can eyeball this stuff, I’ve grilled plenty.

The result was a fantastic, delicate lamb steak done medium-raw. And I could taste the innocence! Every happy, springing step in the meadow, every delightful frolic, right there in the steak. Here’s an odd thing though – each time I’ve made lamb for friends, there’s been someone at the table that has never had lamb before. How the…? What the…? I mean..? How do you go through an entire life without once having had lamb? I get that the tripe, boudin noir, even mussels, are a little out of the norm for Americans. But lamb? This blows my mind.

One thing though – I think the onion relish would have been better if it had been grilled alongside the lamb, and then served a little caramelized – but I’d want to use some oil other than olive. With a grill that hot, the olive oil could taste kind of weird if burnt – canola would do, though. Maybe the point is that the relish is warm but raw – but it was kind of rough around the edges to me. My lovely fiancee, on the other hand, was crazy about it, and took it from the plates of our other guests who didn’t eat theirs.

I have to confess Chef, I came into this not much caring for onions. They don’t really agree with my stomach, so unless they’re well cooked I tend to avoid them. But I’m a believer now – onions do magical things when you use them right, and see why they’re at the heart of a lot of your dishes. The savory smell while they’re cooking, the mix of sweet channelization and acidic crunch…what a vegetable!

This was a dead easy dish that was really delicious. Definitely a hit – especially with my innocence-consuming soon-to-be-wife. And speaking of soon-to-be-wife – I’m planning on roasting a whole pig at the wedding in May. (You’re totally invited, Chef – May 14th in Two Harbors in Catalina – be there!) I wish I had your help on that one, I’ve never roasted a whole pig before, and since I’m feeding 99 people (100 if you come, Chef…) if I fuck it up, it’s going to be an epic disaster. An island, with no other supply of food in easy reach – if the pig is fucked, the wedding is fucked, basically.

But hey – take a pig, add some flame, how can it not end up delicious somehow, Chef? I know you feel me.



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