Lamb and Cornish Game Hen Cook with Chef Nate Flaim
We recently had the privilege of cooking again with our friend, Chef Nate Flaim. Here’s his take on cooking on the stainless steel X Series smokeless fire pit, as well as the recipes he wanted to share with the Breeo community.
The X Series collection fire pit heats up quickly and evenly. It’s sleek, undeniably beautiful and something that will be used for a lifetime. Especially in the city, where you don’t want smoke but you want to cook outdoors with friends and family, it’s a perfect buy. Fun to use, hand crafted, and true to form, this fire pit is remarkable and pushes the boundaries on cooking creatively.
It’s important when you start to be cautious of how much fire is going and how long it’s been going before you cook. For example, when I put my lamb rack fat-side down on the SearPlate™ rim after the fire was going for about 45 minutes, the heat was too aggressive and I had to cool it down. Luckily there was snow around that I could place on the spot where I was searing to get that slow render I wanted. Using your hands and senses while you use the SearPlate rim and Outpost™ grill is imperative.
To me, the only way to know how hot the direct heat is is by placing your hand around the grill. When you do this, ask yourself questions like “Is it cooler on the opposite side?” or “When I splash water on the SearPlate rim does it immediately bubble and bounce off, or does it slowly evaporate?" Using this grill is not a turn-on, cook, turn-off kind of thing. You have to baby it and cook like you mean it. Though it’s not easy, it's something you’ll learn in time. It is an investment of energy and love. You have to give to it for it to give to you. That’s how fire works.
Once acclimated to the SearPlate rim and Outpost grill, it’s a wonderland of opportunity. You can hang, sear, render, slow roast, grill and braise with confidence.
I start by frenching the rack of lamb. You can ask your butcher to do this for you. It is basically removing the rib meat and connective tissue around and in between the bones. For technique purposes, it’s a nice skill to have but not always necessary.
Next, season the lamb a day before cooking, or if on a time crunch, at least a couple hours before. I use a high quality sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and I season generously. I then let the rack sit with fresh rosemary, thyme and bay leaves so all the oils and fragrances from the herbs penetrate the meat.
An hour before you plan on cooking, let the rack of lamb sit out at room temperature. You always want to cook tempered meat so the heat penetrates evenly.
When you are ready to cook, test the SearPlate rim by splashing water on it. It should evaporate in a couple seconds, not immediately.
Then you’ll start by rendering the fat from the rack of lamb. Lightly coat the SearPlate rim with vegetable oil, and lay fat-side down, checking the sear every minute or so to make sure it's not burning. The rendering of the fat should take about 15 to 20 minutes at a consistent, medium to low heat on the SearPlate rim.
Once you have a nice, even, dark brown from rendering and searing, flip over and place on the Outpost grill above the coals.
Next you’ll baste your lamb. Having a bouquet of herbs, such as rosemary and thyme, makes for a great basting brush. Let the herb bouquet sit in the fat of your choosing to flavor it in advance. I like using butter and olive oil while basting.
The lamb should slowly roast on the grill fat-side up for about 15 to 20 minutes to achieve an internal temperature of roughly 120 degrees.
When the desired internal temperature is achieved, let rest for half the amount of time that you cooked it. This keeps the juices inside the meat, and is the difference between a moist or dry rack, so be patient.
After resting, slice the rack in between the bones, lightly sear on the rim for a couple seconds, baste one last time and serve with the charred fennel condiment.
Charred Fennel Condiment
Start by cutting 1 bulb of fennel in half.
Season with olive oil, sea salt and black pepper and place the cut side down on the Outpost grill above the coals. You’re looking for some char here so don’t be afraid to let it get really dark.
Once the cut side is almost completely charred, flip over and repeat to achieve the same color. When done, scrape the char off using a spoon or a dull knife.
Mince the fennel and place in a bowl.
In the same bowl, add 2 cloves of minced garlic, ½ cup of chopped parsley, 2 sprigs of chopped mint, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and ¼ cup of chopped capers.
Add enough olive oil for a sauce and season with sea salt and black pepper.
Cornish Game Hen and Glazed Sweet Onions
These birds are small and really fun to cook. The flesh is less dense than a chicken, so hanging one around the fire to slowly roast works really well.
Start this bird by seasoning the inner cavity with sea salt and black pepper, and really rub it in the cavity.
In the same cavity, put ½ an onion, ½ a lemon, fresh rosemary and fresh thyme.
Then season the outside of the bird generously with sea salt and black pepper before you truss.
Truss the bird with a 3 feet of long strand of twine.
Put the bird breast up with the legs toward you and the wing tips tucked under the Cornish Game Hen. Place the twine under the breast, and pull up and over.
Knot the twine at the cavity where you stuffed the lemon and the onion. Then cross the twine at the end of the drumstick and knot tightly so the drumsticks are crossed.
To hang the bird, knot a separate strand of twine at the knot where the drumsticks are. You can tie this to the Outpost grill. Later on, you’re going to have to hang it from the other side, so at the strand of twine that is below the breast, tie another piece of twine and hang it from the Outpost grill. Roasting this bird will take about an hour or so. I always finish the bird directly on the Outpost grill grate above the coals to get the skin as crispy as possible. The internal temperature should read 160 degrees.
Let the bird rest.
While the bird is cooking, cut 2 small onions in half (root to tail), remove the peel and place the cut side down in a non-reactive pot.
Put the pot on the SearPlate rim and add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. You're looking for a slow caramelization of the onion, so keep the heat from getting too aggressive. It should take about 20 minutes to caramelize the cut side of the onion.
When the color of the cut side reaches a dark caramel color, add ½ cup of white balsamic vinegar, and reduce the vinegar to a syrup consistency.
Then add 1 cup of chicken stock and reduce to a glaze. It will coat the back of a metal spoon nicely when it’s done. When the desired consistency is reached, stir in 1 tablespoon of butter off the heat. This onion is sweet and savory, and pairs perfectly with this bird.
Season with sea salt to taste.
Charred Carrot and Butter Lettuce Salad
Look for smaller carrots here. Wash the carrots and rub the peel with a towel to clean off any dirt or sand.
Cut the carrot lengthwise.
Brush the Sear Plate with olive oil and lay the carrots cut-side down. You should see a slow sear start. When you sear these carrots, their sweetness becomes more lively and prevalent.
When a light caramel color is reached, place in a cast iron skillet with a knob of butter and fresh thyme. Melt the butter and coat the carrots with it for a couple minutes. Drain any excess fat from the carrots, and let them cool down slightly so they don't wilt the butter lettuces.
Once cool, place in a bowl with the butter lettuce.
Season with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, a whisper of white balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
If you desire cheese, ricotta salata is a great choice for this salad.