Josiah Citrin's Dream Guest

Photo by Charles Park Photography, courtesy of Melisse

Dream Guest is a dineLA series that asks chefs and bartenders who they'd most like to see walk into their restaurant or bar, and what they'd serve this special guest.

Santa Monica native Josiah Citrin is a pace setter in Los Angeles’ gourmet dining scene. He is the chef/owner of highly acclaimed Mélisse in Santa Monica and co-owns contemporary Lemon Moon Café in West Los Angeles. In addition to his restaurants, he also published a cookbook, In Pursuit of Excellence, in October 2011, and remains an avid surfer.

Q: If you were to have any guest come into your restaurant who would it be?
A: Since my grandfather, who is dead, he never got to eat at Melisse. He ate at Jiraffe, but never Melisse, so I would like to have both of my grandfathers come in.

Q: What would you make for your grandfathers?
A:  I would make him a leg of lamb with flageolet beans because it’s something that we used to have on Sundays growing up. That’s for one grandfather. And the other grandfather, I’d just make him a great steak and potatoes — he was a simple eater, but I’d make it the best he’d ever had.


This is classic, old-style leg of lamb. My grandfather used to rave about how it was served and carved tableside in Paris in the old days, and this is my way of recreating that memory. Flageolets are considered to be the caviar of beans and are enjoyed often in France. They can be found at the farmers market in California in August, September and October. If fresh are not available, you may substitute dried flageolets.

Leg of Lamb

  • One 6-8 lb. Leg of Lamb, bone-in, trimmed
  • 6 garlic cloves cut in half lengthwise and germ removed
  • ½ rib celery, chopped
  • ½ carrot, chopped
  • ½ sweet onion, chopped
  • 6 ounces lamb bones or scraps
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • Fresh thyme
  • Sea Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Pierce the lamb and insert sliced garlic cloves into the holes. Smear the leg of lamb with the softened butter and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Let it sit at room temperature for 2 hours to season the meat properly.

  • In a sauté pan, roast the vegetables and lamb bones (or scraps) in a little olive oil. Add the fresh thyme. Transfer to a roasting pan.
  • Add the lamb leg to the roasting pan and bake for one and half hours (for rosé temperature), basting frequently with the juices from the vegetables. Remove lamb from oven and transfer the meat to a rack, cover with aluminum foil and keep in a warm place for 30 minutes to allow the meat to rest.
  • Carve the lamb and arrange the slices on a serving platter. Serve with the sauce and the flageolets on the side.
  • Sauce
  • 2 ounces Madeira wine
  • 2 ounces Port Wine
  • 2 ounces Sherry
  • ½ cup + 1 cup chicken stock

Strain the juices from the roasted vegetables into a sauce pan where the Madeira, port wine, sherry and half cup of chicken stock have been brought to boil and reduced by half. Add the remaining cup of chicken stock, bring to a boil and reduce by half again.  Put sauce in a gravy boat for guests to use at the table.

Flageolets Beans

  • 2 cups Fresh Flageolets or 1 cup dried cannellini beans, soaked in water overnight at room temperature
  • 4 to 5 cups plus 4 tablespoons vegetable stock
  • ½ carrot, peeled
  • ½ leek, white part only, washed well
  • ¼ sweet onion, peeled
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons butter
  • ¼ cup brunoise vegetables (made from 1 small sweet onion, 2 branches celery, 1 carrots and one white leek all cut into small dice and cooked with 4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil and 4 teaspoons unsalted butter)
  • ½ teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • ¼ cup diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons chopped shallot
  • 1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees

If cooking fresh flageolets, follow the directions after the overnight soaking process and cook until tender.
If using dried beans: Soak the beans overnight at room temperature. Remove any bean skins that are floating in the water. Strain the beans, put them in a pot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and remove any bean skin that is in the pot. Strain the beans and rinse with cold water.
Put the beans in 4 to 5 cups of vegetable stock, carrot, leek, onion, celery and bouquet garni in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 35 minutes. Season with sea salt and simmer until the beans are cooked through and simmer until soft. Remove the vegetables and drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquids. Discard the vegetables and bouquet garni. Set aside.

While the lamb is resting, combine the cooked beans and the reserved cooking liquid in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and heat through, add the brunoise and mix in 2 teaspoons of butter. Add the sherry vinegar, season to taste with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Add the diced tomatoes, shallots, parsley, chives and mix well. Keep hot.


Bone-in Rib Eye

  • One bone in rib eye, about 40 ounces.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Season the chop with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours.

For best results grill over real wood charcoal.

  • Place the meat on the grill and turn every 30 seconds for 15 minutes. Remove the meat from the grill and let it rest for 15 minutes.
  • Return the meat to the grill and cook again for 15 minutes, turning every 30 seconds. Remove from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Return the meat to the grill and grill for 10 minutes, turning every 30 seconds. Remove from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving.
  • Carve the chop and season with fleur de sel and fresh cracked black pepper. Serve with crème fraîche mixed with freshly grated horseradish and roasted fingerling potatoes.

Fingerling Potatoes
Peel even sized fingerling potatoes and roll them continuously in a sauté pan over medium heat so that they roast slowly and evenly to a golden color. Once they are golden brown, add pats of butter and sprigs of fresh thyme. Continue to roll in the sauté pan and add fresh chopped parsley at the end and distribute evenly.