So I still haven't made casing sausages. I keep getting distracted, in this realm, by the surprisingly easy potted meats and country pates which just seem to have my name on them. This one appeared in the NYTimes Magazine recently, and caused me a little twinge of regret. The regret has to do with a certain churlish reluctance to share the generally under-appreciated qualities of the lamb neck bone.
I am a great fan of those wonderfully gelatinous bits of animal which were once such bargains (osso buco, shortribs, oxtails, etc.) and are now the darlings of chefs and foodies and cost as much as steaks. Only lamb neck bones are still cheap as chips, and I fervently wish for this to continue. An appearance in the NYTimes does not necessarily bode well here. Fate.
Unlike the pork rillettes I made not so long ago, this recipe calls for prodigious quantities of olive oil. The pork rillettes were delicious without that feature. I was torn. I decided to go with the recipe as written, but make only half of it. Which I did. It fit very nicely in my favorite (only) little Staub pan.
Adapted (halved) from Daniel Patterson, in the New York Times Magazine:
lamb's neck, bone in 2 1/2 lbs
onion, sliced one small
carrot, peeled and sliced one smal
thyme a sprig
fennel seeds 1/2 tsp
coriander seeds 1/2 tsp
black peppercorns 1/2 tsp
chili flakes 1/2 tsp
olive oil (approximately 2 cups)
Freshly ground black pepper.
A day ahead of time, season the lamb's neck with salt. Cover and refrigerate. The next day, preheat the oven to 225F. Put the lamb's neck and the vegetables, herbs and spices in a covered casserole fitting them snugly.Cover with olive oil. Cover and cook in the oven until very tender, about 7 hours.
Let the lamb cool in the pot until just warm, then pull the meat and fat from the bones and put it in the bowl, of your stand mixer. Shred the meat by hand and add 1/4 cup of oil.
Finely chop the cooked vegetables and add to the bowl. Mix on low until the fat is incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. With a rubber spatula, pack the lamb into little ramekins, leaving 1/2" on top. Cover with melted clarified butter or lard. In the alternative, pack into a plastic wrap lined bowl, or mold. Refrigerate for at least one day, preferably three, to allow the flavors to develop.
Remove the rillettes from the refrigerator about an hour before you plan to eat them. Either serve with a small spreading knife, or if you have molded it, unmold and slice. Serve with a salad or some crusty bread. Serves 6 to 8 for a lunch or starter. My smaller amount here made one mini- loaf pan, and one ramekin.
Verdict: Yes these are yummy, and very nice with the crusty bread and salad deal. They are not, however, yummier than the pork rillettes of the recent past. Since those were stewed in water, rather than buckets of olive oil, with no discernable flavor or creaminess deficit, I will be adapting that one to other meats in the future. I will not, however, let the fact that these are less than 100% health food prevent me from enjoying them for supper. Mustard and pickled onions are both very good with these.
The other rillettes recipe had a preferred alternative which involved veal stock, rather than water. I don't generally have veal stock around, and bones to make it with are in short supply in the places I generally shop. When I do see a few, I pick the up and put them in the freezer. Once I get enough to make some stock, I might give that alternative a try. We'll see.