Monthly Archives: January 2012

A Joint of Lamb and a Joint Conspiracy

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“Less than an hour later, Charles and Andrew were able to discover for themselves that Wells had married an excellent cook.  Squeezed around the table in the narrow kitchen, tucking in to one of the most delicious roasts they had ever eaten was a most agreeable way of passing the time until the early hours… After he had finished his story, Charles asked the author why he had not gone on one of the expeditions himself [to the year 2000] if he was so interested in the outcome of that war of the future… But Wells simply stared at the joint of lamb with a mournful smile.”  From The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma

Of course, Wells doesn’t go because he knows that the war of the year 2000 is all just a scam.  Makes you wonder, if he has such strong moral fibers, how our heroic author could ever commit himself to the appalling melodramatic farce of sending Charles “back in time” on a fake time machine to kill Jack the Ripper before he could kill Marie and cover up the fact that nothing changes in the “present” with a glib lie about alternate universes. Where is your integrity, man?

Roast Leg of Lamb, Marinated in Red Wine (nothing is measured because I made this one up myself)

1 partial bone-in leg of Lamb

1 bottle of wine

Garlic

Onion

Rosemary

Salt and Pepper

Olive Oil

Toss a bit of everything into a brining bag with the leg of lamb (you can add water to ensure that the lamb is completely submerged) and leave it in your refrigerator for a few days.  If you wake up the day before you’re supposed to cook and discover that you have no gas in your stove, evaluate your next steps carefully.  I happened to discover my dilemma on the Friday before Christmas, and National Grid was not able to solve it for me until late on the Tuesday after Christmas, so I stored my lamb in the freezer for a bit.  Under correctly functioning oven circumstances, a day or two should suffice.  

When you are (finally) ready to roast your lamb, you can make a rub out of pretty much the same ingredients I’ve listed here (minus the wine).  Then roast your lamb at 450 for the first 2o minutes and reduce to 325 until an instant read thermometer registers it to your desired level of doneness.  I prefer my lamb rare, so I pulled mine out at 127 degrees.  Loosely tent the meat with foil and allow it to rest for 20 minutes or so.  It’s tired. 

Meanwhile, you can make a delicious pan gravy with the drippings from the bottom of the pan.  I learned a trick over Thanksgiving whereby you heat a roux of butter and flour and then add your pan drippings to cook it all together on the stove top.  

I also served some popovers (otherwise known as Yorkshire Pudding), some white truffle risotto, and steamed green beans.  The resulting Christmas dinner, though long delayed, was well worth the wait. I was so excited about the eating, I actually forgot to take a photo of the first plate.

I make no pretenses to this recipe being in any way British.  The idea of mint jelly by itself has never sounded too appealing to me and mint jelly on a good piece of lamb sounds even less so.  I’m sure that somewhere in the UK there is somebody who makes their lamb in red wine; I’d like to shake that person’s hand.

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Filed under Books, British Cooking, Cooking and Reading, Food, H. G. Wells, Literature, Recipes

Holiday Puddings, Pies, and Yet More Brandy Butter

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Here is a quick review of all the various British Holiday treats I added my brandy butter to.  The first is a mincemeat tart by Walkers (the same folks that make the shortbread).  They are a delicious mixture of raisins and currants and other dried fruits and like the plum pudding with no plums, they are mincedmeats with no meat.  They are very sweet and the crust is a  little dry, which is why I suggest adding a healthy dose of brandy butter on top.

Next up, we have the Marks and Spencer pudding.  I brought that to my friend Nicole’s house for Christmas Eve dinner.  I was meeting her parents for the first time and thank goodness the pudding was good, otherwise I might not have been invited back for New Year’s.  Nicole’s friend Robin, whose mother is British, took two servings and said it reminded him of his childhood Christmases in England.  I was later told, by Nicole’s father Richie, that he ate the leftover brandy butter “by the finger-full.”  All in all, I would say it was a hit.

Lastly, we sampled the Bryson’s Luxury Christmas Pudding, which is luxuriously flavored with Irish Stout and Navy Rum.  I served that at my house for Christmas dinner (on the 28th, because not having gas in your stove on the 25th is not an emergency, according to National Grid). It was the best of the bunch: moister and more alcoholic-tasting.  It went down with rave reviews to myself and my friend Mike; other guests declined, perhaps because Jessica knows that plum pudding used to be made with meat suet. (I believe, after a little research, that it was the beef suet that turned me off when I was cutting up the kidney for my steak and kidney pie.)  Most modern puddings are made with vegetable suet, whatever that is.

In order to accomodate all these puddings, I had to make a second batch of brandy butter.  This time I added a little vanilla, which I don’t suggest you try.  I didn’t think it was as tasty.

So, what did I do with all the leftover bits of puddings and tarts?  I chopped them up, added some leftover Panettone and baked it all into a bread pudding which I will be trying for breakfast tomorrow.

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Filed under Cooking and Reading, Dessert, Food, Literature, Plum Pudding