GREEK-ITALIAN LAMB WITH ORZO
I played around in the kitchen a little tonight and "fused" a Marcella Hazan recipe for a casserole-roasted lamb leg with memories of the succulent lamb with orzo from Uncle George's taverna in Astoria.
Worked out pretty well, although even two hours' cooking time didn't really bring the lamb to the falling-apart-tender stage of country Greek or Italian fare; it was fine, but I don't think even three hours would have hurt. This is NOT rare meat ...
It's startlingly easy: Put a 2 1/2 or 3 pound chunk of lamb leg, bone in (either shank or butt half) into a dutch oven, and add 1 cup dry white wine, 1 carrot minced fine, 1 celery stalk minced fine, 1 small onion minced fine, two smashed garlic cloves, a sprig of fresh rosemary; 1 teaspoon juniper berries; 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper to taste. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer slowly, turning the meat occasionally, for at least two hours.
Toward the end of cooking, the meat will have given off a moderate amount of liquid. About 15 or 20 minutes before the end of cooking, stir in 1/2 cup orzo, riso or semi di melone pasta, and continue to cook covered, stirring frequently, until the pasta is done.
This was delicious -- the pasta cooks up to absorb most of the liquid, making a rich and tasty side dish. The lamb, although (as above) it could have been even more tender, was already dark and rich, suffused with the flavors of the herbs and vegetables.
The hearty Languedoc red, La Copa Santa, made an excellent match.