Lamb is the most popular item at David Waltuck’s restaurant, perhaps because he is so enthusiastic about it. Lamb’s rich, sweet flavor enables him to experiment with Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and North African themes, since it shines next to strong seasonings such as garlic, rosemary, cumin, olives, lemon, saffron, and thyme. Here he creates a dish for the home kitchen in which a boned loin in rolled around a savory stuffing and served with a stock-based sauce. Most of the work--making the stuffing, stuffing and rolling the loin, and preparing the sauce--can be done ahead, just as it is at the restaurant; only the actual browning and roasting are left to finish the dish. Best of all, the chef who developed this dish will teach us how to make it.
Any meat dish begins with directions for your butcher. A loin of about four pounds has the best shape and the tenderest meat for the purpose. (You will want to get the bones, chopped, and the trim for sauce, and a couple of shank bones as well.) However, the loin end of a boneless leg of lamb will make a tasty, but not as elegant-looking version.
The fairly thin but intensely flavored sauce is the next step, and it is made by reducing wine, chicken or veal stock, and seasonings with browned lamb bones and browned vegetables. The brine of kalamata olives adds a surprising kick to the sauce.
The stuffing is simple: chopped fresh spinach, breadcrumbs, and merguez (a spicy lamb sausage). Waltuck tells us the two pitfalls to avoid here, and reminds us of of one important safety consideration.
Next comes the rolling and trussing stage (the photographs are very helpful here). Waltuck tells us how he trusses this particular dish, which yields prettier individual slices of lamb. Once trussed, the roast is thoroughly browned in a hot skillet and then roasted for a short time in the oven, producing a well-browned outer crust with pink, juicy meat inside.
Directions for serving--including slicing the medallions--follow, all given in detail. Waltuck likes to accompany the lamb with couscous that’s studded with tiny diced vegetables and parsley, and seasoned with saffron, lemon, olive oil, and cumin. Featured recipes: Lamb Loin with Spinach-Merguez Stuffing & Olive-Infused Sauce; and Couscous Timbale.