My Three Favorite Spices

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Three of my favorite spices are Black Peppercorns, Garlic and Chiles (in this case hot Cayenne chiles from my garden). Join me for a brief journey and I’ll show you how to go from there, to here……

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For this Roasted Leg of Lamb I began by gathering my ingredients: a 5lb Leg of Lamb, Black Peppercorns, Garlic and Cayenne. Oh and I threw in a bay leaf for good measure. I don’t care for salt in most of my recipes but add it if you like. 

I put 3 Tablespoons of peppercorns, 5 cloves of garlic and 7 or 8 of the chiles in the mortar, as I began to crush the ingredients with the pestle the smells were intoxicating. If you haven’t used whole spices before I recommend doing so at lease once or twice. While it takes effort the tastes are stronger and the fragrances can be incredible. Not to mention it allows you complete control over the spice mix (i.e. heat level, no salt).

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It took about 10 minutes to get everything crushed into a paste. The peppercorns can take a little effort to crush. I wanted at least three-quarters of them crushed; I liked the idea of a few whole ones. As you work the spices they start out as individual pieces but you’ll know you’re done when the mixture begins to take on a paste like consistency.

I cut small slits into the roast and packed them with the spice paste. There 7 or 8 slits on each side (top and bottom) of the roast. I also filled all existing crevices with the paste. Then I smeared what was left over the top. I started the lamb at 400 degrees as the package suggested but that seemed a little to hot, so after about 45 minutes I turned it down to 385 degrees. How long you bake a roast depends on the size of your roast and how well done you like it. Mine went for almost two hours, a little longer than the suggested 20 minutes per pound. I always use a food service quality thermometer that can be calibrated. Each time I use it I put it in ice water and make sure it reads correctly to calibrate it. I took the roast out and let it sit for about 10 minutes before slicing it.

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While the roast was resting I put the Dutch Oven on the stove with all of the juices from the roast. Over medium heat I added 2 or 3 Tablespoons of flour and, using a whisk, stirred for several minutes while the flour cooked. Then I added a cup or so of red wine and let it continue to simmer until the liquid had reduced a little, maybe 5 minutes. And then Voila – Roast Leg of Lamb with Sweet Potato and Spinach Salad.

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Any kind of roast could be used with this recipe. You’ll already be making adjustments to the spice mix to suit your palate so… make it yours.

Until next time… Release YOUR Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!


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