Lamb can be tricky to get right. Its gamy nature can easily be bungled by a sloppy preparation, but when cooked properly, it’s a sensory revelation. At the Gorbals (98 North 6th Street, Brooklyn; 718-387-0195) in Williamsburg, celebrity chef Ilan Hall and his adroit kitchen crew offer a mouthwatering, $33 course demonstrating how to knock lamb out of the park.
The first step is in the cut selection — Hall opts for the neck, which is padded in colossal chunks of tender meat. In fact, the portion is hefty enough for the dish to be classified as a shared entrée on the menu. To enhance the meat’s tenderness, the chef stews the lamb neck in a lengthy braise; what emerges is a football-size mass of fatted flesh that slides eagerly off the bone.
Solidifying the magnificence of the meal is the way in which the lamb is dressed before it hits the runway. In the Middle East, where lamb is a culinary staple, mint and yogurt have long served as preferred accoutrements. The Gorbals pays homage to this traditional preparation, while infusing its own spin: Instead of yogurt, a thick layer of creamy oats separates the meat from the plate; the buttery texture of the cooked grain helps blanket the lamb’s subtle gaminess. Augmenting the dish further is a savory red-wine reduction drizzled atop, which packages every bite with a robust juiciness while allowing generous flecks of mint to bind to the lamb’s outer crust.
The Village Voice is counting down to our Best of New York City issue in October. We’re combing the city every day, one dish at a time, to guide you to the most delicious food in NYC. These are our 100 Favorite Dishes for 2015, in no particular order, save for the top 10.
Here’s our countdown up to now:
#93: Almayass’s Mante
#75: Ippudo’s Pork Buns
#66: Pulpo at Toro