Spend less, eat healthier
| April 28, 2010 9:00 PM
A beautiful roast can turn a typical meal into a feast. But can it be part of a healthy diet?
The answer is yes, when eaten in moderation and when you know how to shop for and prepare the right meat.
No matter how you slice it, most meat is high in fat (especially the saturated kind). And as a rule of thumb, the more flavorful the cut, the higher the fat. Most markets post a chart with the nutrition facts for different cuts of meat, so start there.
Also, rather than buying pricey "prime" grades of meat, which have the highest percentage of fat (about 35 to 45 percent by weight), choose cuts labeled "choice," which are 15 to 35 percent fat. Even better, go for "select," with 7 and 10 percent fat.
Markets aren't required to use these labels, so when in doubt, ask the butcher.
Also, choose cuts that are less marbled, since all that marbling is just fat that even the most skillful butcher couldn't trim away.
Speaking of trimming, before you cook your meat, you'll want trim any visible fat. This takes a few extra minutes but will significantly reduce the amount of fat you end up eating.
This roast leg of lamb with a cherry and Port wine pan sauce starts with a cut of meat (the butt end of the leg) that when well trimmed is lean, yet has just enough fat to give it superb flavor. It's an elegant dish that can be on the table in about 40 minutes.
For a spring-themed plate, serve slices of this roasted leg of lamb with herb-infused, whole-wheat couscous and some steamed asparagus with a squeeze of lemon juice.
Leg of lamb with cherry and port wine sauce
Start to finish: 50 minutes (30 minutes active)
2 1/2 pound boneless, butt-end leg of lamb, trimmed of visible fat
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
1/4 cup Port wine or red wine
1/2 cup dried cherries
3/4 cup cherry juice
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce, or more to taste
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Use the salt and pepper to season all sides of the lamb.
In a large, ovenproof skillet over medium, heat the oil. Add the lamb and cook until well browned on all sides, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Place the skillet in the oven and roast the lamb for 20 to 25 minutes, or until an instant thermometer inserted at the thickest part registers 145 degrees (for medium-rare). Transfer the lamb to a carving board and tent with foil to keep warm.
Return the skillet to the stovetop over medium. Add the garlic and thyme and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the wine, scraping up the browned bits at the bottom of the pan. Stir in the cherries, cherry juice and chicken broth, then bring to a simmer.
In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and water. Whisk into the cherry sauce and stir until thickened. Stir in the soy sauce, adding more to taste, if desired.
Slice the lamb and transfer to a serving platter. Serve with the sauce.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 355 calories; 112 calories from fat; 12 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 121 mg cholesterol; 16 g carbohydrate; 40 g protein; 3 g fiber; 383 mg sodium.