Lamb Barley Soup

Lamb Barley Soup for 10:

2 lamb fore-shanks
2-lb lamb neck bones
3 Spanish onions
5 carrots
5 celery stalks
3 large garlic cloves
1 bottle red wine
2 quarts chicken stock
¼-cup vegetable oil
2 cans Muir Glen Whole peeled tomatoes (strained)
Salt and pepper to taste
½ -cup flat parsley

Last Monday, a friend came to Darien from Cooperstown, New York.  He brought a whole lamb for me, straight from a USDA approved slaughterhouse. All dressed out, it weighed 29 pounds.

The first cuts involved removing the head and the front- and hindquarters. It quickly became obvious that the yield would be limited. In my estimation, the animal would have been more useful at 40-lbs. But it was my job to maximize the opportunity that its life was to provide by celebrating every ounce of it on my menus.

The easiest decision was to create a center-of-the-plate celebration with the chops. Instead of splitting the chops down the backbone, I left it intact. I cut the loin chops, connected two to each other and did the same with the rib chops. The result was that they looked like a butterfly with wing extensions. The rib chops (for five orders) had wonderful frenched bones. The loin chops (for three orders) were smaller and more compact, resembling mini-porterhouse cuts.

The rest of the meat and bones from the main carcass and neck were braised with onions, celery, carrots, chicken stock and red wine. The stock was then made with all of the cleaned bones from the braise, together with the broth and more mirepoix.

In Sag Harbor, we celebrated the fire shanks and hindquarters as tacos, roasting each cut on its own and then shredding all of the meat and reserving the bones for stock. In addition to the legs, we also had the head at the Little Kitchen. It was roasted with the last leg and cleaned for the soup. Then, we used the same procedure that we used in Darien’s Estia’s American to create the stock.

To finish the soup, we roasted 4 cups of Muir Glen whole-peeled tomatoes for 30 minutes at 350°F. Then, we cut the tomatoes into smaller pieces. In a saucepan, we boiled 1 quart of water and then added 2 cups of raw pearled barley.  We let it simmer until it began to soften (5 minutes). The barley was then strained.

In a large soup pot, we combined 3 cups of mirepoix and 2 tablespoons of chopped garlic with  ¼-cup of vegetable oil. It was placed on a medium flame for 5 minutes and stirred occasionally. Then, we added 2 cups of red wine and 2 quarts of lamb stock, bringing it to a simmer. It was then followed with the tomatoes and all of the meat that was left over from other meals and from cleaning the roasted and braised second cuts (neck bones, lower ribs, etc.).  The mixture was stirred until it began to boil, and then was reduced to a simmer. At that time, the pearled barley was added.

At this point, the meal is ready to serve. However, it is better to remove the meal from the stove, place in a shallow pan and chill overnight. By doing so, the soup can be cleaned of fat the next day, seasoned with salt and cracked pepper and finished with ½-cup of chopped flat parsley.

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