Monday, March 1, 2010

Lamb Takedown!

If you've ever been to a concert at the Middle East, you're familiar with the process: line up in the restaurant, hand over your cash or ticket, get a wrist band (or not), then head down the stairs into the basement. What you're probably not used to, though, is the smell of lamb and spices hanging in the air.

At the Lamb Takedown, however, the smell of cooking meat was exactly what was to be expected. The evening featured 18 local amateur chefs who all proved that they had more-than-amateur skills with a huge variety of recipes. The plate above represents only about a quarter of the offerings, so clearly, only small bites of all the dishes was enough to fill me up.

For me, there were a few stand-out hits, a couple of misses, and some that were just not my style. I put my vote towards the lamb meatball, stuffed with a piece of feta cheese, cooked in a North African tomato sauce, and topped with tumeric yogurt, candied orange peel, and parsley. That meatball was all kinds of wonderful (and I'm not usually a big fan of meatballs), and the candied orange peel really made the dish stand out. I also loved the Moroccan braised shoulder with apricot couscous, the five-spice pulled lamb with pickled fennel and carrots (I could have eaten those pickles all night), the smoked leg served in a pita with summer fruit compote, and the perfectly-seasoned pulled lamb taco.

At the end of the night, there were awards to hand out. All the chefs gathered on stage, and Matt Timms, the evening's host, asked them to introduce themselves to the crowd, and then the prizes (including some much-coveted Le Creuset cookware) were awarded.

One of the judges, Adam Ragusea of WBUR, made a fun video - definitely worth a watch if you couldn't be there last night.

The winners of the evening (stolen from the Takedown's site):

People’s Choice

  • 1st - Aleks Strub: Lamb Bolognese with Rosemary Gnocchi
  • 2nd - Justin Manjourides: 5-Spice Pulled Lamb with Pickled Fennel and Carrots
  • 3rd - Matt O’Shea : Hammered Shanks- Cajun Spiced Lamb Shanks braised in Abita Turbodog with jambalaya.

Judge’s Selections

  • 1st - Justin Manjourides: 5-Spice Pulled Lamb with Pickled Fennel and Carrots
  • 2nd - Aleks Strub: Lammb Bolognese with Rosemary Gnocchi
  • 3rd - Jamie Saltsman: Smoked Leg with hand-picked fruit compote

Judge’s Honorable Mentions:

  • Aaron Foster: Lamb Ruben
  • Alex Rosenzweig: Georgian Style Barbecue

1 comment:

We Are Not Martha said...

This looks amazing! I'm so disappointed I missed all the lamb events!!

Good to see you on Fri... that bacon was AMAZING :)