3 couples came to dinner the night before my birthday, so I bought a bunch of good things and figured out how to put them together. I knew I wanted slow-cooked lamb shoulder, so that morning I put a 4-pound beauty into a big pot with the usual aromatics plus lemon, cumin, kombu, dried porcini, wine, soy, and vinegar and, once bubbling, put it in the oven for about 8 hours at 225˚. Then I strained the liquid, pulled the meat apart, and put it into a smaller pot with just enough of the liquid to cover and simmered it on the back of the stove for another 2 hours until it was time to eat it.
The first course was smoked trout that I made earlier, made as before into little soufflans but with the recipe tweaked a bit due to an egg shortage. They went with sautéed local oyster and shiitake mushrooms, shredded kale quickly tossed in a pan with oil and lemon, and a chopped radicchio/butter/wine sauce poured over all of it.
Next the lamb, on whipped parsnips with yogurt and truffle oil, and Danny’s roasted vegetables, with a dab of mint/rosemary/garlic chive pesto on top. And then pear tart, along with amazing local blue cheese and a Montbazillac that, for the money, is a worthy substitute for sauternes without breaking the bank.