I think families are extremely influential on an individual's eating habits. My family enjoys a relatively large range of foods and cuisines, but up until last year, I had never tried lamb. We would never cook it at home and, with my parents' warnings of its funky, animal-y flavour ringing in my head, I would shy away from it on menus.
Then last year, at a dinner party, I finally (hesitantly) nibbled on a lamb chop and enjoyed it immensely. Sure, the meat is more strongly flavored than chicken or pork, but when marinated and roasted just so, I was sold (and frankly, a little peeved that I had been missing out on something so tasty for so many years).
Now, lamb makes the occasional appearance at home. I find lamb (rib and loin chops especially) pretty forgiving to cook and it stays juicier and more tender than other types of meat. This is my new favourite way to prepare them.
A note on shopping: I haven't had much experience shopping for lamb. However, I learned that if you are looking for the classic frenched chops (with the bone running the length of the chop), look for rib chops. I ended up buying loin chops which also have the bone in, but it does not penetrate into the meat part as deeply, making for a less sturdy lamb "lollipop".
Recipe after the jump...
I bring odd souvenirs home with me when I travel. A tube of curry ketchup and a box of coconut "sheets" studded with raisins (to be eaten on toast) from Amsterdam. A little bottle of pandan extract from Singapore. Pearl sugar from Belgium. And, amongst other things, sheet gelatine from Barcelona. This last one is a bit strange, because sheet gelatine isn't even unique to Barcelonan cuisine. It's a little hard to find in North America and I'd never worked with it before, so I thought why not?
I finally used this gelatin to make a simple but sophisticated Italian dessert: panna cotta (or "cooked cream"). It's important to add just enough gelatin to make it set, but not so much that it's bouncy and flubber-like. Heavy cream is used to lend a silky, luxurious texture to the finished dessert. There are dozens of ways to flavour panna cotta, from simple vanilla to earl grey to rosewater. Since I had plenty of great blueberries to make a sauce with, I thought of the classic pairing with lemon.
Tips and recipe after the jump...