Friday, August 17, 2007

Seamed good to me

Yes, I know that seems to be misspelled - but I meant it.
I had an excellent Restaurant Week meal last night at Pigalle (Charles Street South in Boston). The entree was described on the menu as follows:
Olive Crusted Leg of Lamb with Braising Mint Jus, Cucumber Salad, and Moussaka
But what I wanted to particularly bring to your attention was the way the meat had been cut and prepped before cooking. I didn't speak with the chef, but what I saw on my plate looked like they had employed a procedure I often use and which I regard as highly commendable.

They seemed to have seamed the lamb. This means that they dissected the meat from the leg of lamb to break it down into individual muscle bundles and removed from each any fat, connective tissue, and silverskin.

It is a labor intensive operation. But when you prep the meat in this way, each and every bite will be the tenderest and tastiest it can be. What's more, it will take the flavor of your spices more quickly and more deeply; and ultimately it will exhibit a greater clarity of focus than otherwise possible. Time/cost aside, the trade-off is that it will present much less of lamb's characteristic gaminess - a trade off that I find vary favorable. If you're one of those that particularly crave a gamy, sheep-y taste - don't bother.

If you have a real butcher, you can certainly ask them to prep your lamb in this way - and they'll probably accommodate you. But they will not do as complete or clean a job as I require. Nor will they get the yield that I go for. It's simply too painstaking and laborious a process to go through for any reasonable price. So if you're handy with a knife and have the time, I encourage you to try this yourself. The results can be startling.

And at Pigalle, last night - that entree was really very good. Not to quibble, but perhaps a bit saltier than necessary - but the lamb, and the eggplant were fantastic.

The other item I particularly enjoyed there last night was a dessert. A chocolate/coconut cream in a crispy shell affair. The depth, length, and extremely gradual unfolding of the chocolate and coconut flavors in succession were enchanting. Really good effect.

Bravo Pigalle

Caveat: Order a good bottle of wine. The Bordeaux we opted for - by the glass - was not what it should have been.

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