We watched an incredibly inspiring presentation by David Burke at this years Star Chefs ICC. It centered around lamb and with a special emphasis on dry aged lamb. The idea of dry aging lamb had not crossed our mind before so this was particularly interesting. He shared his technique, which involved dipping the meat in a brine for a quick saline bath. He mentioned that he would season larger cuts of lamb with spice mixes, which, when they were trimmed off the meat would become a spiced lamb jerky. Did I mention that he ages his lamb in a refrigerator lined with Himalayan salt blocks? We jotted notes during his demonstration and then let the ideas simmer in the back of our minds for while before we set about aging some lamb ourselves. We took a lamb shoulder and rubbed it with a spice paste enriched with black cocoa. Once we coated the meat, we cold smoked the shoulder for 4 hours and then set it on a rack set over a bed of salt in our refrigerator. Every day we turned the shoulder allowing it to dry slowly and evenly, concentrating the flavor of the lamb and allowing the aromatics to penetrated the meat. Beneath the crust in the sterile environment of the lamb shoulder the meat was slowly being broken down by the lamb's natural enzymes.
The result was a silken, almost waxy meat, smooth on the palate, with intense flavor and intensely aromatic with a combination of spice, smoke and age. We removed the meat from the bone, rolled it and seared it in some lamb fat we had on hand. After is was cooked we served it with the leaves and tender stems of the last of the mitsuba from our garden. It was delicious. This first foray into the dry aged lamb has us looking for both the refrigerator space and the patience to work with more combinations, using different cuts of lamb and aromatics to really explore the possibilities of this process.