Lamb Shoulder with Red Chile Marinade and Cilantro Pesto

1 3-pound lamb shoulder, boned, butterflied, formed to a rough rectangle shape
red chile marinade
1 ancho chile, stemmed, seeded, halved
1 pasilla chile, stemmed, seeded, halved
1/2 tablespoon chipotle chile puree (canned)
1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted, ground
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
cilantro pesto
1 cup cilantro leaves, no stems
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 cup olive oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Heat a pan and add cumin seeds. Toast over medium-high heat, shaking the pan constantly until the seeds are fragrant, about 15 seconds. Grind the seeds in a coffee grinder or with a mortar & pestle.
  3. Set the ancho and pasilla chiles in a small pan. Place the pan in the oven until chile pieces develop a sheen—no more than 30 seconds. Cut chiles into pieces small enough to grind in a coffee grinder. Grind to a powder and mix with chipotle puree and oil. Set aside.
  4. Place the cilantro, garlic, pumpkin seeds, lime juice, salt, and pepper into a blender. Blend until the cilantro is minced. With the blender running slowly add oil so the pesto emulsifies. Set aside.
  5. Pound the lamb shoulder to a ½-inch thickness.
  6. Spread two-thirds of the cilantro pesto in a thin layer over the meat, leaving at least a 1-inch border. Reserve the remaining pesto for serving.
  7. Season and roll the lamb into a tight cylinder and truss. Rub the roast on all sides with the chile marinade; let it set out at room temperature for 1 hour.
  8. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Roast the lamb for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F and cook to medium, 135°F.
  9. Let the roast rest at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes, then slice diagonally, about ¼ inch thick. Serve with the remaining cilantro pesto and jalapeño preserves.

Chef:  great color to lamb, not overcooked, pepper sauce and pesto go great with the lamb and have nice plating.

Personal/Team: I don't normally like lamb, but I thought this was delicious. Perhaps one of the best dishes this quarter. Carving was challenging because the meat was so tender and it was hard to keep in the round shape with the pesto filling.

Lessons learned: We were hurried when plating and taking the time to gently plate the meat would have made it look nice. It also might have helped to have a tighter truss on the meat before putting it in the oven.