The Lamb Post, The Lamb Post… :)

Say that title fast. Repeat it twice, or thrice. Hahaha. So here it is, the conclusion to this teaser on the whole roasted lamb. The finished roast wasn’t pretty, but it tasted pretty good for a first time experiment, and there were some lessons learned! :)

We had acquired the lamb before we had any specific “occasion” to use it… but it wasn’t that hard to scare up 14 friends and colleagues to an experimental lamb dinner, all willing “guinea pigs” of sorts… :) Nearly half a dozen of the guests also happen to to be blog readers (susie, wahini, artisan, joan and non-commenters). The casual setting was outdoors on the Zubuchon terrace, the table set simply with blue/white tablecloth and yellow roses. It had poured the night before so we had a tent on standby nearby, but the weather that evening was perfect. Lots of katol (mosquito coils) in the nearby bushes to ward off blood-suckers and roughly 60 candles and low wattage capiz lamps illuminated the setting.

If you recall on my previous post on the lamb, it had just gone been placed on the coals… here is another photo of the beast after about 3 hours of slow roasting. Frankly, everyone who saw it commented that it looked ugly, a bit alien-like, if not a stripped down version of an emaciated human. Unkind thoughts, but truly, it wasn’t pretty. Not like the tanned and glistening little truffle piggy roasting nearby… :) I guess the skinless nature of the lamb made it less than visually appealing, more primal… The lechoneros continued to baste the lamb every thirty minutes or so, trying to ensure that its skin was always glossy and moist, not dried out and in need of serious amounts of the animal equivalent of oil of olay…

I have a tendency to discombobulate our crew with these sudden unscheduled feasts, and I should make it clear that these seemingly “impromptu meals” actually require a LOT of work. If not for the folks in the kitchen, lechonan and waitstaff, there is no way we could do these “dinners” a la Marketman. We have great crew, and they are getting better every time we do another outdoor event. Here, the two large lechon trays made of unfinished acacia are laid out on the brick buffet table. At least 4-5 cooks/chefs ready the grill, a portable roasting pit is set up, three waiters are at the ready…

Charcoal fires were lit about an hour before guests were scheduled to arrive. I am not sure what kind of steroids this batch of charcoal were on, but there were serious fireworks, making for cool photos that Mrs. MM shot while I ran around doing last minute tasks…

…the sparks reached a good 8-9 feet into the air! In the foil packets are small potatoes steaming with a little bit of water and butter. They took less than 30 minutes to cook on this inferno. :)

Once the coals died down to more manageable levels, the crew grilled red and yellow peppers, large sweet onions, eggplant and zucchini slices, whole cherry tomatoes and thin slices of butternut squash.

The lamb had been removed from the coals near our lechon cooking pits, and transferred to a makeshift grill near the terrace, where dinners would gather for appetizers and drinks. This was just to keep it warm and “for show” when guests arrived. It was then transferred to the buffet where it rested for at least 20 minutes before carving. Guests started to pick at it while they were having drinks, and those first few pieces were absolutely delicious, if a bit undersalted. First lesson, salt GENEROUSLY. I thought I had salted a lot, but the meat can take more, I promise you. The lack of salt was not deadly, but clearly an area for improvement. The ribs were the best flavored pieces, having been internally basted with the aromatics swirling inside for 6 hours or so.

The roast lamb and pig were placed on the buffet. Here is a quick rundown of the other dishes, but no photos, unfortunately… Susie brought an Ottolenghi monggo and carrot salad with feta cheese. We had platters of grilled vegetables. Some roasted potatoes with butter and mint. A bowl of couscous with lemon and herbs. A greek salad with romaine, cucumbers, olives, onions, and feta. A starter of organic sea prawns with cocktail sauce. Several bottles of cava, a gift from guests, and some red wine and other drinks.

Diners lingered well into the evening, and the last guests left closer to midnight. But only after enjoying the wonderful desserts brought by Artisan Chocolatier — a blond fruitcake, a delicious pavlova with fresh fruit, and wonderful hand made chocolates! Artisan also left a frozen mango torte which I shared with crew the next day… thanks Susie and Artisan!

So the final tips on the lamb. It was good, and far better than I had expected for the first attempt. But it did lack a bit of salt. I also found it cooked a little too long… perhaps pulling it off an hour earlier would have been better. It dries out quickly once it cools, so eat it as within 30 minutes of coming off the flames, or re-heat small servings on a gentle fire if you like. Herb it GENEROUSLY. And while it may not be standard practice in Greece, perhaps concoct a dipping sauce of drippings and broth to ensure it is as moist as possible. Overall, I gave the lamb an 8.0 to 8.5 on a scale of 10. Readers who were at the dinner can chime in if they think I am being overly generous in my rating… :)


41 Responses

  1. whoah! there the post of the LAMB!!!!… looks so good and i can smell up here in Singapore the delicious smell (nagalaway na ako sa kanamit sa roast lamb) lol!
    as promised by MM, it’s Friday and the post for the Lamb is infront of me…. thanks a lot MM!

  2. What a feast! Gorgeous photos you got there,MM! I love my lamb roast with mint jelly.

  3. ooooh! so wondering how it tastes, MM! may be on your menu soon! i also love your place!

  4. At last! :D

    When I got to the part about the lamb looking like a skinned emaciated human… LOL!
    But lamb is one of my absolute favorite meats, so no matter how it looked I’ll probably wolf it down.:)

    Thank you for sharing the pictures with us, MM!

  5. ….. “perhaps concoct a dipping sauce of drippings and broth to ensure it is as moist as possible” … larding and/or barding might help.

  6. That is an awesome lamb!
    I guess when you roast lechons for a living/business, then a lamb would be no problem, i think!
    Now I’m Hungry!

  7. “Looking like an alien or emaciated human”….MM, you’re not helping…..for someone like me who is yet to become a fan of Lamb! :( However, that truffle lechon looked so good even from afar! And that’s an awful lot of candles you used but it did add a romantic ambiance to the place!

  8. Yehey, lamb post! Upon seeing the first picture, I also thought that the lamb looked like a decapitated tortured person, probably because of the angle of the picture as well as how the lamb was tied. Sorry, morbid! It sounds delicious nonetheless. Anyways, I’m sure upcoming posts would be about what to do with the leftover lamb.

  9. MM, I’m sure it was a great experience – both the cooking and the dining – but again, as I am wont to do when I see animals roasted whole hog, I feel sorry for the poor creature. :( Carnivore hypocrisy, I know, but I can’t help it.

  10. MM, forgive my ignorance… why do you say the lamb is skinless, unlike the roasted, golden pig that you also cooked?

  11. Cynthia, I think it is because lambs and goats and cows are actually SKINNED or their tough leathery layer of skin removed from the animal… hence the rather morbid look of them. Pig hair is removed, but the epidural or “skin” layer is left intact. Imagine a chicken roasted whole with skin. Yum. But imagine the same chicken de-skinned first before roasting… less visually appealing and less caramelization and taste… :) crabbychef, I know what you mean. ami, there were no leftovers, crew were all fed lamb as well, and it was wiped out. :)

  12. That third picture looks a little scary (can’t get the ’emanciated human’ remark out of my head).
    But in all honesty, your roast lamb looks goood. By the way, MM, have you tried ‘Kambing Guling’ during your time in Indonesia?

  13. MM, normally middle eastern lamb is eaten seasoned, wrapped in foil, placed in a charcoal filled pit, then buried. It may not be operationally compatible lechon style

  14. Wish I could have been there. You do need to salt lamb well, the salt seems to bring out the taste. I hope you saved the bones for stock. Well defatted, it makes really good soup, with vegetables, pulses, pasta, etc. but also boosts all other lamb- based dishes. Keeps really well in the freezer.

  15. PS What are organic sea prawns and where do you get them? I might be ignorant but I always thought sea prawns – ie not farmed – are organic, unless living in polluted waters of course…

  16. MM, your terrace is beautiful! I also like the capiz lamps, where did you get them?
    Even if the lamb look a bit atrocious I still think it looked delicious. But that’s just me, lamb is on the top of my favorite meats.

  17. Alas, the lamb post….I did try saying the title three times aloud….it sounds funny…LOL!

  18. I think people residing in Cebu close to Marketman and Artisan’s establishments are lucky, those called in to join their guinea pig panel fortunate, those elected to populate their guest lists privileged. Mrs. Marketman who snapped the photographs of the threads of light being spewed up into the night air like some feu d’artifice, imho, is an accomplished shutterbug.

  19. finally the lamb post, after yesterday’s cliffhanger.
    and oh my, pavlova with fresh fruits!!!! lamb + pavlova, very kiwi (new zealand)!
    can artisan post his pavlova recipe? MM, do you have a picture of it so I can drool over that too?

  20. Maybe a meat thermometer might work with the grill timing. Lamb is best at medium rare, which is around 130 to 135F.

  21. Love, love, love your lamb post. Whatever comes out of MM’s kitchen is worth the feast. Your simple gathering is very elegant MM. The table lights/candles compliment your table setting. And i like that you have the back-up lechon as another choice if in case one of the guests is non-lamb eater.

  22. As far my knowledge is I have not seen a whole lamb serve on Greek table on Easter. While the outside it roasting, they slice and serve while the rest of the lamb still go on roasting….

  23. Looks yum-o!!! Those are some lucky guests. :)

    Lovely photos of the charcoal “fireworks”. Those charcoal fireworks only come out with certain wood charcoals, I was told. I can’t remember clearly but I think charcoal made from acacia wood is one of them.

  24. MM, the finished lamb is not as visually appealing as a lechon but not a doubt in my mind that it was delicious! What is visually appealing is the beautiful Zubuchon terrace, I was curious if Zubuchon caters to private parties at the terrace?

  25. As a hiligaynon speaking bisaya, i did say the lamb post thrice and it came to me as the lampos which means to be stricken, hehehe. The lamb actually looks very yummy, just finished licking my monitor, hahahaha.

  26. I don’t mean to offend, but that looks like something out of Resident Evil. No seriously, it really does XD .

  27. I was right about the drying out part…hmm can it be soaked overnight for like a saline solution? So it actually would seep in the meat. Maybe pour in lard also with the basting liquid.. I might be going ahead, forgive me.

  28. KUMAGCOW, hmmm, brining lamb… I wonder. Beth234, hahaha, I know what you mean. scott, yes we do. There are three different “feasts” on offer, and range from roughly PHP750-1,200 per head (with a maximum booking for 20-24 persons only) depending on menu chosen… Please contact Zubuchon main office during office hours at 032.236.5264 and look for Beverly or Joan for more information if you are interested. We have not advertised it much before, due to unusually inclement weather in Cebu from November until recently… but with summer upon us, it is less risky to book an outdoor dinner. Shalimar, I can see why they would do that… and it would ensure moistness as well… Gerry, the greek style lamb is intentionally WELL, WELL DONE… they generally don’t eat their lamb rare. Frankly, I prefer it less cooked, and would opt for a rare leg of lamb rather than this version… sunflowii, not sure Artisan would be inclined, as he sells his goods. But there is a version or two on this blog (previous archives) if you are interested. It isn’t difficult to do a pavlova… footloose, yes, Mrs. MM has been an avid photographer since her teen years… :) tonceq, not likely, lamb is a bit pricey for most local pocketbooks. If lechon in Cebu retails at say PHP490, this kind of lamb would have to be at LEAST double that, and far more boney… Mary, capiz lamps from the flower market in Cebu. I used them with light bulbs (hanging) and with candles on the floor and tables. Josephine, a bit redundant to say organic sea prawns I guess, but essentially they are not pond or pen raised. Supposedly caught in deep sea nets, provided by a supplier to us… not sure where they were caught. I find they sometimes have a strong off flavor, but these ones were good. When shopping at markets, they are the slightly orange/pinkish ones, and can get tough when larger in size. My favorite shrimps have to be the white or putian variety, that have a sweet delicate flesh (not sure if they are sea or pond raised). Pond raised tiger prawns are my next choice, then the sea prawns last… Dan, yes, I have had goat in Indonesia, but can’t recall it with extreme fondness…

  29. was watching andrew zimmern yesterday – bizzare foods in morocco & he went to the back stalls where they are making roast lamb & i immediately thought of your experiment. From Culinate, here’s what they say about roast lamb in Morocco: ” The star of the show here is the mashwi, whole lamb slow-roasted in wood-burning pits. The mashwi vendors build large fires in deep cylindrical clay pots buried in the ground (think of tandoori ovens the size of Volkswagens). The lambs are strapped to logs, lowered into the ovens, and left for 12 hours. Then they’re pulled out, portioned, and sold on torn pieces of stiff thick paper used as a plate, sprinkled with cumin salt and paired with flat discs of soft bread. Heaven.”

  30. Hi MM,

    Here is a recipe for a salad/side dish I got to try from The Hellenic Republic here. It goes great with any roast/grilled dish.

    Cypriot Grain Salad
    (serves 8)
    1 bunch coriander shredded
    ½ bunch parsley shredded
    ½ red onion finely diced
    1 cup freekah (or cracked wheat/coarse bulghur wheat)
    ½ cup puy lentils
    2 tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds
    2 tbsp toasted slivered almonds
    2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
    2 tbsp baby capers
    ½ cup currants
    Juice of 1 lemon
    3 tbsp extra virgin olive
    Sea salt to taste
    1 cup thick Greek yoghurt
    1 tsp cumin seeds toasted and ground
    1 tbsp honey
    Blanch freekah and puy lentils separately in boiling water until both just cooked.
    Drain well and allow to cool.
    Mix the yoghurt, cumin and honey till combined.
    In a medium bowl place the coriander, parsley, red onion, freekah, puy lentils, toasted
    nuts, capers, currants, lemon juice and olive oil. Mix well, season to taste.
    Place into serving dish and top with cumin yoghurt.

    This is soooo refreshing, so delish and this amount would feed (as a side) easily 10-15 people, not the 8 that’s indicated.

  31. One of the best lamb dishes I’ve ever had is whole roast lamb done Xinjiang style. Xinjiang’s the northwestern region of China so it’s a mix of central Asian and Chinese tastes. Lots of Cumin and chili powder with some yoghurt to balance the gamey flavor of the lamb. Even better is you can get lamb bbq around the big Chinese cities in winter time. Love eating lamb bbq while walking around in winter :) <– Pictures of whole roast lamb Xinjiang style.

  32. MM, thanks for reminding me about your pavlova posts! i’d forgotten about them. back when i read them, i didn’t know how a pavlova would taste like. i’ve since had a taste and love it!
    btw, the kiwis (new zealanders) claim that THEY were the ones who invented the pavlova in honor of that lady with that last name who visited NZ. the aussies and the kiwis ‘fight’ over who really invented it. thought i’d give a voice to the kiwis since in your previous posts, people only mentioned the aussies.



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