Day 137: Smoked Lamb, Roasted Potatoes with Garlic, Lemon and Oregano, Roasted Chickpeas with Garlic and Chard, and Mojitos
I took so many photos today. Of the roasted chick peas and chard, of the lemon potatoes, of the smoked lamb on and off the smoker, and drizzled with a dark blend of Worcestershire, vinegar and molasses on our ciabatta buns. All in the idyllic setting of our friends’ airy backyard veranda. The photos were stellar, on account of the fabulous food and setting of course, but when I got home and downloaded them, they disappeared from my computer and camera. It’s likely that I did something in my sleepy stupor, but damn. It.
So yes, we went for dinner at Mike & Natasha’s, so that we could finally try out the smoker we kept hearing so much about. They smoked a leg of lamb, and let me tell you, it was fantastic.
When I heard lamb was in the smoker, I figured roasted lemon potatoes were in order – something I’ve been meaning to try, but never got around to. I searched epicurious for one (sometimes I’m too daunted by the sheer number of cookbooks on my shelves) and came up with a recipe for Roasted Potatoes with Garlic, Lemon and Oregano, excerpted from Aglaia Kremezi’s book The Foods of the Greek Islands. Definitely a keeper, although I may increase the amount of lemon juice next time.
I surfed on, seeking inspiration for something side-dishy to bring that went with lamb. I’ve been trying to revive a bunch of chard I bought last weekend in a glass of water on the countertop, but it is not responding well to treatment anymore, so I searched for something using chard and came across a recipe for roasted garbanzo beans and garlic with swiss chard, and thought I’d give it a go. Another success. As always, I changed it drastically, and if you follow the original recipe I don’t recommend doing it all in advance, as it offers as an option. The chick peas were wonderfully crunchy and soft when they were fresh from the oven, but hours later were a little pasty. Also, the recipe calls for far more olive oil than I think is necessary. You end up draining it all off anyway – and there’s no need for the beans to boil in oil. (The original called for 1 1/4 cups with the chick peas – I used about 1/3 cup.)
And fresh mint mojitos to wash it all down.
Roasted Chickpeas with Garlic and Chard
1 19 oz. (540 mL) can chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1 head of garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
2 shallots or 3 green onions, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
1/3 cup olive or canola oil
2 Tbsp. olive or canola oil
1 large bunch Swiss chard, center stems removed and leaves coarsely torn
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup vegetable, chicken or beef broth
Preheat oven to 400°F. In a baking dish or cast iron skillet, combine the chickpeas, garlic, shallots or green onions, bay leaves and oil. Roast for about 45 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice, until everything is golden.
If you used a cast iron skillet, pour the chickpea mixture into a bowl and set the skillet on the stove top. (Otherwise, pull out a skillet.) Drizzle with oil and when it’s hot but not smoking, saute the chard and garlic for about 5 minutes, until it’s wilted. Pour the stock overtop, cover and cook for another 10 minutes, until the chard is tender. Remove the lid and drain any excess liquid away.
Add the chickpea mixture to the pan, season the whole thing with salt and pepper, toss around (add a little extra oil if you need to) until heated through, and serve.
Roasted Potatoes with Garlic, Lemon and Oregano
3 lbs. Yukon gold or baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup olive or canola oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed or thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano, crumbled
1 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup beef or chicken stock
1/3 cup lemon juice
chopped fresh oregano (optional)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Spread the potatoes in a single layer in a 9″ x 13″ baking dish and pour the oil over them. Add the garlic, dried oregano, salt and pepper to taste and toss well to coat with the oil.
Bake the potatoes for 15 minutes. Add the stock, toss and bake for 10 minutes more. Add the lemon juice, toss and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more, or until the potatoes are golden and cooked through. If you like, sprinkle with fresh oregano.