Lamb featured on springtime menu

April 6, 2013 8:29:18 PM PDT
Curtis Gamble is like a lot of ambitious chefs these days, working with farmers directly. In the case of his lamb farmer, it's led to some unique creations on his springtime menu at Bread and Wine, located in the Irving Park neighborhood.

"Because we take a lot of off cuts from him like kidneys, liver, lamb heads, he's able to work with us and bring in more premium-style products," said Gamble.

Like lamb shoulder. Gamble slow-cooks and stores it in its own fat, eventually shredding it into a bowl, along with garlic, salt and chives, for a classic rillette.

"Well I'm gonna cure it, then I'm gonna slow-cook it in fat and let it sit, let it bloom is what they call it, for like two weeks. And then we pick the shoulder, season it really, really lightly, and then we cut it into almost like - for lack of a better term - Spam-like planks and then pan-fry it," he said.

It's served with dollops of foamy goat cheese, tart pickles and ash chips.

"We're big fans of bread and butter pickles so we're like let's pickle some turnips to get that mustard flavor in there. So we have your classic combination of lamb, goat cheese, mustard and then that ash cracker that's on it was kind of just us having a little bit of fun," said Gamble.

He also combines lamb with goat, to make a silky-soft pate.

"We just developed a very classic, French country pate; gave it a little bit of a new school twist, making our own mustard with egg yolks and mustard powder; compressed apples, pickled mustard seeds," he said.

Pasta sheets are rolled out, eventually formed into giant, oversized ravioli, stuffed with shredded lamb. The cooked rectangles are dressed with a rich, earthy pan sauce and some root vegetables, plus a garnish of even more pickles and crunchy shards of homemade pretzels.

"All those earthy tastes, all those mustardy kind of tastes from the rutabaga they all kind of come together in a little bit of a unique way," he said.

So even though Easter is over, remember Springtime means lamb for a lot of chefs, along with asparagus, morel mushrooms and ramps, which I'm pretty sure you're going to be seeing here at Bread & Wine over the next few weeks.

Bread and Wine 3732 W. Irving Pk. Rd. 773-866-5266