Table 33

Thanksgiving is upon us, good people.

I love a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Brined roasted turkey, a smaller funky bird to deep fry, and of course, all the fixings: mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stewed green beans, braised cabbage, Swiss chard, stuffing, gravy and cranberry sauce.

When I started cooking professionally in 1993, my first job was at the Hyatt in Cambridge, Mass. To my surprise, we offered meal service in all our restaurants and banquet halls on Thanksgiving. I was floored. Who goes out to eat on Thanksgiving? What in the name of tom turkey? Not only were we open, but we did almost 3,000 covers!

I will spare you the details of the amount of food we prepped and plated, but each year I was at the Hyatt, we improved our systems so that the food got better. I also learned that hotels in general were open every holiday. Wow. My parents would not even have taken me and my brother to a rock fight on a holiday, never mind to a fancy hotel.

In Reno, we close all of our restaurants on holidays. We could be open and make money, and although I am sure some staff would not mind working, I think being closed is the right thing to do. I have been known to cook up a turkey or two, but this year, if you are anything like me, you’re thinking turkey tacos and a few Cadillac margaritas (that is, margaritas made with Grand Marnier).

I have read so many great posts and recipes for turkey dinners, so for something different, I wanted to share a flavorful and healthful roasted lamb recipe. Growing up, before I worked holidays, we always had holiday turkey and lamb. My mother’s side of the family is Greek, so I have a thing for lamb. I think my great-grandmother Laura Vallery smiles down from heaven as she watches me make the lamb.

The dish is being served through December at my downtown Reno restaurants: Campo on North Sierra Street and Heritage in the Whitney Peak Hotel. The dish also appears in the November 2014 issue of Cooking Light magazine; you also can find it online at

Happy Thanksgiving and to the beginning of the holidays to you all.

“Table 33″ is an occasional column from celebrated local chef Mark Estee, owner of Campo and Burger Me, operator of Chez Louie in the Nevada Museum of Art and Heritage in Whitney Peak Hotel, and owner of Reno Provisions, a culinary complex opening Dec. 2 at 100 N. Sierra St. in downtown Reno.



Cook’s notes: Hands-on time: 1 hour and 30 minutes. Total time: 27 hours and 45 minutes. Harissa is a North African red chili paste. Look for it at Whole Foods Market, some Raley’s or Williams-Sonoma. Hot chili sauce, as noted below, can be substituted.

For marinade:

3 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons black pepper

2 tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted

1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted

1 tablespoon sweet paprika

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons harissa or hot chili sauce

2 teaspoons fennel seeds, toasted

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 (5-pound) boneless leg of lamb, trimmed

Combine first 8 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add 1 teaspoon salt to spice mixture. Rub spice mixture evenly over lamb. Re-roll roast; secure at 1-inch intervals with twine. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate 6-24 hours.

For roasting and jus:

4 cups water

Preheat oven to 375 F. Remove lamb from refrigerator; let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Place lamb on a wire rack; place rack in a roasting pan. Pour 4 cups water into pan. Roast lamb at 375 F for 1 hour and 45 minutes or until food thermometer registers 130 F. Remove from oven. Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes; cut across grain into thin slices.

Meanwhile, place drippings from pan in a small saucepan over high heat; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1 cup.

For onion-mint mixture:

1/2 cup finely diced sweet onion

1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

Combine onion and next 5 ingredients (through 1/2 teaspoon pepper) in a small bowl. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt.

For vegetables and serving:

2 cups shaved peeled parsnips

2 cups shaved peeled carrots

2 cups shaved peeled butternut squash

1 cup shaved peeled turnips

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, parsnips, and remaining 5 ingredients (through lemon juice) in a bowl; toss to coat. Serve vegetables with lamb. Top lamb with onion-mint mixture; drizzle with reduced jus. Makes 16 servings, each consisting of about 3 ounces lamb, 1/2 cup vegetables, 2 teaspoons herb mixture and 1 tablespoon jus.

Nutrition information per serving: calories: 311; fat: 16.8 g (saturated 5.5 g, monounsaturated 8.4 g, polyunsaturated 1.4 g); protein: 30 g: carbohydrates: 9 g; fiber: 3 g; cholesterol: 96 mg: iron: 3 mg; sodium: 329 mg; calcium: 57 mg.

Recipe provided by chef Mark Estee, as appearing in the November 2014 issue of Cooking Light. Recipe edited for house style by Food & Drink.

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