Christmas Eve Lamb by Chef Aaron Brooks

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Looking for the perfect dish to make ahead of Christmas Eve? Creating a mouthwatering dish beforehand spares you the hard labor in the kitchen, allowing you to enjoy the night before Christmas. Chef Aaron Brooks of the Four Seasons' Edge Steak & Bar recommends a savory lamb dish that can be made up to two days in advance.

Aussie Lamb Leg Slow-Cooked for 6 Hours With Preserved Lemons (or Lemon Zest), Olives, and White Wine, Served With Creamy Polenta


1 pc boneless Aussie lamb leg (can be found at Costco, Whole Foods, Fresh Market, or Publix)

1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley

2 tbsp chopped fennel frond

4 garlic cloves chopped

3 filleted anchovies minced in olive oil

1 tbsp chopped rosemary

For braising:

1 bottle Pinot Grigio

1/2 onion peeled and cut in four

1/2 fennel bulb cut in four

2 celery sticks cut in quarters

2 carrots peeled and cut in thirds

1/2 cup green olives

6 cloves garlic

1 sprig rosemary

1 bay leaf

extra-virgin olive oil

sea salt

black pepper.

Procedure: Butterfly the lamb leg. Season the inside liberally with salt and pepper. Rub the garlic, anchovy, and rosemary into the inside of the leg. Layer the remaining ingredients -- preserved lemon, parsley and fennel -- inside. Next, roll the leg back up and tie with butcher's twine. Heat a cast-iron pot or Dutch oven on the stove to moderate heat. Add a liberal amount of extra-virgin olive oil to the lamb. Season the outside of the lamb with sea salt and pepper and sear each side of the lamb to a light brown. Once a nice crust has formed, remove the lamb and add the onion, carrot, celery, fennel, and garlic. Saute until golden brown. Place the lamb back in the pot with vegetables surrounding it. Pour the entire bottle of wine in and add the bay leaf, rosemary, and green olives.

Bring the pot to a very slow simmer and cook on the stovetop for 6 hours. Remove the pot from heat but allow the lamb to cool in liquid overnight. To finish the dish, remove cold lamb from stock, untie, and slice into 3/4-inch steaks

Place steaks on a tray and dress with a little extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt, and stock from braising. Place the steaks in a low-heated oven to reheat the lamb. Warm up the stock on the stovetop to strain it. Discard the vegetables but keep the olives. Reduce the stock by half and stir in olives, chopped parsley, preserved lemon (or lemon zest) and butter to thicken and even out the flavor.

Polenta ingredients:

1 cup fine polenta

1/2 cup yellow onion diced

3 cups chicken stock

2 cups water

1 sprig thyme

1 bay leaf

1 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

3/4 cup butter

3 tbsp mascarpone

Directions: Bring the chicken stock, water, onion, thyme, and bay leaf to a boil. Once simmering, remove the bay leaf and slowly whisk in polenta. Let the polenta come to a simmer; then transfer to a buttered oven-proof dish, cover tightly, and bake for 2 hours at 275 degrees. To finish, remove thyme sprig and season with salt, Parmesan, butter, and mascarpone.

Serve the lamb with a liberal amount of sauce and olives over creamy polenta.

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