LAMB STEAKS WITH GREENS ("MEDITERRANEAN RIM")
Last night's Provence fish put me in mind to do something ethnically similar tonight, particularly with a quality Rhone red in the tasting queue. Fortunately, Marian Burros had just the thing in a recent New York Times, and with a quick harvest run in the garden and a bit of tweaking to turn her recipe into mine, we ended up feasting on a Mediterranean Rim lamb-and-greens dish with a symphony of flavors and touches of Provence, Sicily and maybe even Northern Africa.
Prepare the vegetables: Slice one finocchio (fennel) bulb into julienne strips and set aside. Wash well, remove tough stems and cut into small pieces enough assorted bitter greens (I used collards, mustard greens and Swiss chard) to make about four cups. Chop three scallions and two large garlic cloves fine. Peel the zest from one orange and mince it fine.
Brown three or four lamb-leg steaks (about 8 ounces) over high heat in just enough good olive oil to coat an iron skillet. When they're well browned and crunchy on the exterior, take them out of the pan, leaving the juices and chunky bits. Toss in the finocchio strips and toss-fry until they start to brown. Add the chopped scallions and garlic (and a bit of water if they start to stick) and continue stirring over medium-high heat until they soften. Pour in 1/2 cup chicken broth, one tablespoon fresh lemon juice and one tablespoon fresh orange juice. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and stir in the long- cooking greens (collards, mustard, etc.) just until they start to wilt. Stir in the minced orange peel and salt and pepper to taste. Put the browned lamb chops back on top of the greens, cover, and simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes. Lift lid, add the short cooking greens (swiss chard or spinach, etc.), and re-cover for five more minutes. Stir together 1/2 cup of bulghur wheat simmered covered in 1 1/2 cups chicken broth for 15 minutes and then left to stand off heat for another 10 minutes, plus last night's leftover Italian ciabatta bread.
It made a dinner-in-a-dish and a great match for the Paul Jaboulet Aine 1991 "Domaine de Thalabert" Crozes Hermitage, a robust, peppery red. I think an excellent beer match would be a Belgian abbey ale.