Behold, Heartlandia, a new cookbook from the husband-wife team behind Portland, Oregon, restaurant the Country Cat Dinner House & Bar. He heads the kitchen, and she’s the pastry chef. Needless to say, there’s a lot of love in this food. But when was the last time you saw a stuffed lamb shoulder that didn’t inspire a lot of love?
By the time summer ends, I’ve had my fill of fresh tomatoes and pole beans. That’s when I start craving the flavors and textures of fall dishes, like bread pudding and stuffing. Here, I feed my cool-weather cravings by stuffing an herb-crusted lamb shoulder with a rich bread pudding. This dish is especially great for entertaining during the holidays because it cooks up beautifully and provides you with an elegant centerpiece. If you aren’t comfortable butterflying the lamb shoulder yourself, ask your butcher to do it for you.
- 1 (4-pound) boneless lamb shoulder, butterflied
- 3 tablespoons ground fennel seed
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablepsoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon herbes de Provence (without lavender)
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground celery seed
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 medium celery stalks, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, peeled, trimmed and finely chopped
- 1 (1/2-pound) loaf crusty white bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and dried
For the bread pudding
Place the lamb shoulder on a cutting board and cover the top with three layers of plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet, pound it until it is 1 inch thick. In a small bowl, combine the fennel seed, salt, coriander, thyme, and chili flakes and whisk to combine. Liberally massage the spice mixture into the lamb shoulder to season all sides. Let the lamb shoulder rest at room temperature for at least 20 minutes or up to 1 hour to let the seasoning penetrate the meat.
In a large bowl, combine the eggs with the cream and whisk to combine. Add the herbes de Provence, onion powder, 1 teaspoon of the salt, the celery seed, garlic powder, and lemon pepper and whisk to combine. Set aside.
In a large skillet set over medium heat, warm the butter until it melts. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrot and celery soften and the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and set aside to cool for a few minutes. Add the cooled vegetables and bread cubes to the egg mixture and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Set aside.
When the lamb shoulder is done resting, arrange a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and place a roasting rack on top. Cut eight 8-inch strands of butcher’s twine and set aside. Position the lamb shoulder with the butterflied side up and with the long side facing you. Spread an even layer of the bread pudding, about 1 inch thick, over the lamb shoulder, leaving about a 1-inch border around the edges. Gently roll the lamb shoulder away from you, using even pressure while keeping the pudding mixture inside the roll as snug as possible. Continue rolling the lamb shoulder until you’ve reached the end.
Position the roll seam-side down. Starting at one end of the roll, about 1 inch from the end, slide a piece of twine under the roll and tie the string very tightly around the lamb. Repeat the process with the remaining strands of butcher’s twine, spacing the ties equally along the roll.
Once the roll is tied, place it on the roasting rack and roast for 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours or until the top is nicely browned and slightly crisp. (If you stick a fish fork into the center of the meat and pull it out, the fork should be warm to the touch.)
Remove the lamb from the oven and let it rest at room temperature for 10 minutes. Cut off and discard the twine. Using a serrated knife, cut the lamb roll into 1/2- to 1-inch-thick slices and transfer to a large serving platter. Dig in.