This food blogging business has awakened many culinary interests that I always had but had never really put all the spirit into. Tracking down specific ingredients or deciding to finally make a recipe dog-eared years ago has me eating many elaborate dishes that I never took the time to do before. Collateral damage of the best kind. After all, who better than I to be the recipient of all the good stuff right? I think so too.
An average week now includes five or six unexpected meals or sweets or breads that never saw the light of day before. Yesterday I found lamb. My across-the-street supermarket doesn´t usually carry it, so of course I took it home. It was part of a leg of lamb that had been cut into rounds. Like steaks. Perfect.
During two years, I took cooking classes with the most adorable and amazing teacher. She taught mainly French cooking. It was a relaxed once a week affair where she and her staff demonstrated how to cook the recipes for that day and, after they were done, we all tasted every dish. A late afternoon spent with great food and other food lovers. I still ache for those moments sometimes. Great memories.
One night they did a 5 hour leg of lamb braised in red wine. It was so good. I never forgot about it. Since I couldn´t find the recipe; I remembered another similar one I had marked and set out to do it. It was different. And I adapted it a bit to what I had, and to the fact that my leg (the lamb not me) wasn´t whole. I used 20 garlic cloves, the orange peel and white wine I already had, cut the time to 3 hours and cooked it on the stove with a barely there flame; by that time I could cut the meat with a spoon.
I left it overnight and ate it today. I spooned off the fat that had solidified and reheated it. Succulent pieces of melt-in-your-mouth lamb bathed in a garlicky syrup. I roasted some carrots and butternut squash and sprinkled it with parsley. Very saint patrick-y.
SEVEN HOUR LEG OF LAMB
originally from Paula Wolfert via The Best American Recipes 2001-2002, by F. McCullough
Note: I wrote down the exact recipe in case you buy a whole leg of lamb. Ideal for a dinner party since it can be made in advance.
3 ½ quarts water
1 5-pound (2,3kg) whole leg of lamb, without the shank
2 Tbs vegetable oil, goose fat or duck fat
5 dozen plump garlic cloves, peeled
3 Tbs cognac
1 ¼ cups sweet wine, such as orange Muscat or 1 ¼ cups Riesling with a strip of orange peel
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
About 8 hours before serving, fill a 6- or 7-quart enameled cast-iron casserole with the water and bring to a rolling boil. Carefully add the leg of lamb and boil for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200ºF/95ºC.
Remove lamb and drain on kitchen towels. Discard the water. Heat the oil or fat in the casserole over medium heat until sizzling. Add the lamb and cook until golden brown on all sides. Tilt the casserole and use a bulb baster to remove some of the fat. Add the garlic and cognac and, when heated, ignite. Be sure to avert your face; the flame is huge. When the flames die out, add the wine, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover the pot with crumpled wet parchment paper or foil and a tight-fitting lid and set in the oven to cook for 6 or 7 hours, turning the leg once midway.
Remove the casserole from the oven and let it stand, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Skim off all the fat and reheat gently just before serving.