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A Hefty Steak That’s Light Enough for August

Category: Food & Drink,Lifestyle

City Kitchen

Lean and meaty, a center-cut lamb leg steak is done in minutes, and makes a rustic-yet-elegant meal paired with an olive relish.

Compared with a whole lamb leg, which can be difficult to cook evenly, center-cut steak is simple to prepare.CreditKarsten Moran for The New York Times

It’s a shame Americans don’t eat much lamb, as in summer, it is especially delicious grilled.

Of all the various cuts of lamb, most can be made into chops. Some, like rib chops (from the rack) or loin chops (which look like miniature T-bone steaks), are expensive, but there are cheaper options, like shoulder and sirloin chops.

Among those reasonably priced chops is the lean, meaty center-cut leg steak. A thick slice with a round bone in the center, it is the easiest to prepare, especially compared with a butterflied whole boneless leg, which can be difficult to cook evenly and carve. Just ask your butcher to cut one for you if there isn’t one on display: She will happily oblige.

A quick marinade of garlic cloves, rosemary and olive oil deepens the dish's flavor.CreditKarsten Moran for The New York Times

Weighing about a pound and a half, and cut one-and-a-half- to two-inches thick, it is a hefty steak, sufficient for a few diners (or a couple of ranch hands). It takes only about 10 minute to cook over fairly high heat, over coals, on the stovetop in a ridged or flat cast-iron pan, or under the broiler. Simply sear it on one side until nicely browned, then flip it, waiting and watching for the juices to rise to the steak’s surface (a thermometer should read 125 to 130 degrees). For a juicy medium-rare, let the steak rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

It’s a good idea to season the steak well in advance of cooking. Be generous with salt and pepper, then shower it with roughly chopped rosemary, sliced garlic and a little olive oil, rubbing it in with your hands to coat well. Make that the first step, so the meat has time to absorb the simple marinade; at least 20 minutes, if possible. Then, prepare the olive relish, which isn’t difficult at all, since you’ll probably buy pitted olives: These days, they’re easier to find than olives with pits — even at the best supermarket “olive bars” — and certainly better than those flavorless canned ones.

Look for tasty black Niçoise or Gaeta olives and briny green Lucques or Castelvetranos. You can easily hand chop them into a chunky relish or use a food processor to pulse them into a rough paste. The recipe makes enough for leftover relish, which is great spread on toasted baguette slices and served with drinks; tossed with pasta; or served as a sauce with any kind of fish.

Tomatoes, warmed through on the grill, are an optional side.CreditKarsten Moran for The New York Times

Lastly, I found delicious, sweet medium-size tomatoes at the farmers’ market, so I grilled them briefly, just to warm them through. Finished with a handful of arugula leaves, the combination of lamb, olives and tomatoes made a satisfying, rustic-yet-elegant summer meal one recent evening. Paired with a chilled bottle of rosé, it was the perfect distraction from the muggy New York heat wave.

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