NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

March 27, 2013

Turn your holiday dinner inside out

As pesto, mint infuses meat as it cooks

The classic Easter or spring lamb often is served with mint jelly. And that’s fine, assuming you want to play it safe.

We decided to flip things. Actually, we didn’t so much as flip the dish as turn it inside out. Rather than relegate the mint to a condiment added at the table, we used it to create a vibrant pesto, which we then stuffed in a leg of lamb so it could infuse the meat with flavor during roasting.

And to stand in for the sweet and sour flavors of the mint sauce, we braised red cabbage right under the lamb. The result is an intensely meaty, flavorful accompaniment. If you still want a minty sauce, the reserved pesto can be thinned with olive oil, then drizzled over each serving.

The whole roast can be prepped ahead of time, then refrigerated overnight. The day of the dinner, just pop the whole roasting pan in the oven, and you’re good to go. If your cabbage or lamb begins to overbrown during roasting, just tent the pan with foil.

Orange and mint-stuffed lamb with sweet-and-sour cabbage

Start to finish: 41/2 hours (1 hour active)

Servings: 8

1 small head red cabbage, cored and thinly sliced

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup red wine

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Salt

Zest and juice of 2 oranges

1 bunch fresh mint, leaves only

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup grated manchego cheese

1/2 cup toasted cashews

Ground black pepper

3 1/2-pound boneless leg of lamb

3 slices stale or crusty bread

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Heat the oven to 300 F.

In a medium bowl, combine cabbage, onion, red wine, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, red pepper flakes and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Spread the mixture evenly over the bottom of a roasting pan large enough to fit the leg of lamb. Set aside.

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