13 April, 2012

How to Debone a Leg of Lamb

Prepping lamb on the laundry table

The real kitchen pro knows he doesn't know everything. I didn't know how I going to make a roast out of a leg of lamb.

Leg of lamb

I did one a couple of years ago. That time I cleaned it up, studded it with garlic, and tied it up.

Leg of lamb prepped

Cooked it on a kettle,

MAC n lamb

and preto, roast leg of lamb.

Leg of lamb on the grill

For this dinner, I wanted a boneless roast so that I could get some big prime rib looking slices. I have de-boned my fair share of pork shoulders and hams, but I wanted this boneless roast to still look like a leg, so I hit the web.

I found this video "How To Debone a Leg of Lamb" from Kitchen Basics with the CIA. In this video the butchering instruction is great, but the resulting roast is not so attractive.

Then I found a slide show from the Washington Post, "Raise Your Game: Deboning a Leg of Lamb" In this presentation the instructions are rather lame, but the final product is inspiring.

I put together the two ideas to make up a roast.

lamb roast

I applied a rub of Coffee and lavender based on the Coffeehouse Hot Link then put the joint on the smoker.


Gentle apple smoke to an internal temperature of 122F and it's time to eat.


With the leftover shank, veg and mash, I made a pie.

Smoked lamb shank


Smoked shank pie.

With sharp knives, a measure of determination, and a twist of inspiration, just about anything is possible. If you have any questions, write.


04 April, 2012

The salsa is on the inside.

Chorizo Verde

Green Chorizo Recipe.

Chorizo is Spanish for sausage.


In Spain you say chorizo and you may get a dry sausage that's seasoned with their famous smoked paprika (Pimentón).

Marinating pork for chorizo

In Mexico, chorizo means fresh sausage made from pork marinated in a chile paste and cooked loose.

Huevos Rancheros

In America it's mostly known as the stuff that comes in plastic tubes that's salty, and greasy but tastes great with eggs.

There are places around Chicago that sell homemade chorizo, but this story is about making your own homemade chorizo at home.

I first wrote about Chorizo for a Cuisine of Mexico class I took at Kendall. I made chile pastes and described all the different herbs used to make a beautiful sausage. During the research I stumbled across a description of green chorizo. In her guide of the market at Santiago Tianguistenco, Diana Kennedy wrote:

"Chorizos are practically synonymous with the Toluca area...About twenty five years or so ago, green chorizos began to appear. There are some excellent ones, but because they are usually made in small quanities, they are more difficult to find. They are seasoned with herbs, greens, chiles, and sometimes tomates verdes. Many others are seasoned with commercially ground pumpkin seeds and spices, while those to be avoided at all costs are prepared in bulk in local packing houses, artificially colored and packed into plastic casings."

From this I was hooked, a green sausage! I had to make it, and it only took three years.

Chorizo Verde batch 3 after hanging a couple of days

I started thinking about chorizo verde again when I wanted a green sausage for St. Patrick's Day. I decided to keep my banger rooted in Irish flavors, so the Mexican verde would have to wait. Then I spied an account of a fruitless green chorizo quest in The Chicago Reader, by food writer Mike Sula. Touched by the writer's plight, I now felt it my civic duty to to come up with an authentic green chorizo recipe.

Canela, black pepper, bay

Recipe Construction

For this sausage my basic premise was it's coarse ground meat seasoned with a chile salsa (paste).

Here's the all star line up for the green paste:

poblanos y jalapeños


pepitas verdes


Other bit players include:



I could have included spinach or spinach powder, but it felt like a color crutch, besides, I wouldn't put spinach in my salsa verde. I also considered tomatillos, but I didn't think they contributed enough in color or flavor.

Chorizo Verde batch 1

I made four batches of Chorizo. For my first attempt I imagined an futuristic ultra-hip chicken chorizo. The pale meat made a nice palette for a green link, and playing on a riff from the Modernist Cuisine cookbook, I tried Xanthan Gum as a fat replacer


It tasted great, but the texture was that of scrambled eggs, Nice but not what I wanted for this chorizo verde. So much for being hip.

With pork shoulder back in the batter's box the next two batches were about process:


Added in green,


vs. marinated green.

I liked the effect of the "added in green" when I made the St. Patrick's banger, but it wasn't working here. Still not loose enough. Marinating in a green paste for 24 hours is the way to go.

Chorizo Verde

Per 1000g pork shoulder (you can use up to 20% fat too) cut into small cubes.

3 poblano chiles
2 jalapenos (or serrano for a zestier sauce)
3 bunches of cilantro (about 300g)
30g garlic peeled and chopped
25g pepitas (green pumpkin seeds) ground
17g Salt
2 fresh bay leaves, chopped (see notes)
7g black pepper, ground
6g canela (see notes)

30ml tequila or vinegar (see notes)

To make the salsa verde:


Blanch and shock the cilantro. Remove the lower stems and place leaves in the blender.

Roast the chiles till charred on all sides then remove stems and seeds. Put them in the blender with the cilantro.

Put the rest of the ingredients (except the pork) into the blender.



It's okay to add a little water to get thing going, but you want to keep it kinda thick. let the blender run awhile.

Pass the salsa through a strainer to rid it of any nasty bits. Toss the verde with the with the cut up pork and let it sit in the fridge for 24 hours.

The next day grind the green mix through a large plate. Stir to achieve a uniform pitch, then stuff into casings or roll in plastic. Let it hang in the fridge for a day or two and the green will deepen, especially in the natural casings.

Chorizo Verde batch 3

Chorizo Verde batch 2

Recipe Notes:

Fresh laurel (bay leaf) is a must. If you don't have your own tree (and you should) check Latino markets or your finer gourmet food shoppes, don't bother using dry, just do without, it's okay.

Canela. While most of the Western world is hooked on cassia, Mexico is one of the largest importers of true cinnamon from India. The nuanced flavor is worth seeking out again at a Latino market or at a spice merchant. Use you cupboard cinnamon if you must, but go easy on it.

Vinegar or tequila. Traditionally vinegar is a part of chorizo, and I made three batches with it at various percentages. I decided to make a fourth with tequila. I found the vinegar made the texture mealy, the acid hindered browning (the Malliard recaction), and not to mention it's pungent. I settled on tequila because it punches up the flavors without being overbearing.

I had a lot of chorizo verde on hand, so...

Pizza w/ caramelized onion, chorizo verde, yellow miso chantilly slick

I put it on pizza,

Chorizo verde hacis, eggs, mustard greens beurre blanc, radishes

had several renditions of chorizo hash and eggs,

Chorizo verde tacos

but it's simply the best on a tortilla.


Further reading:

Chorizo (rojo) by Saucisson MAC

My Mexico : a culinary odyssey with more than 500 recipes by Diana Kennedy. pgs.211-217

"The Elusive Green Chorizo" by Mike Sula

Recipes sources:

Green Chile Chorizo by Rick Bayless


Chorizo verde estilo Toluca from Chef Uri

For the really bored:

A paper on: Determination of some physicochemical characteristics from chorizo verde, a traditional sausage from Toluca, México,(In Spanish, PDF) (Abstract In English)

And finally, no Chorizo post of mine is complete without the Chorizo Song, by my friend, John Novak.