For those of you who were not here with me yesterday, the story begins like this...
"It was the best of lambs, it was the worst of lambs, it was the fat on flesh, it was the lean on meat, it was the epoch of marbled fatty glory, it was the epoch of not one ounce, it was the season of spring, it was the season of winter, it was the spring of hope for a perfectly roasted leg, it was the winter of despair over disappearing sauce, we had everything before us, we had...well...everything still before us (I got nothing here, the tables were both full of magnificent food), we were all going to direct fatty lamb heaven, we were all going direct (I so fought the urge to write directly. I did. directly) the other way, the lean way.
There was no king with a large jaw or queen with a plain face but there was a kosher lamb with a large bone and lots of nice marbling on the throne (well, platter actually) of our royal home, there was an organic lamb with plain, unmarbled meat on the throne (well, platter actually) of our royal chalet. In both places it was clearer than crystal to the lords (well, us, but we can be lords, and ladies, of course) of the homes and chalets (to be honest I think it was just me but whatever) that things in general were settled for ever (forever!).
Pardon? say you? What in the heck am I talking about? you ask?
Well, I have a tale of two lambs. I have a lesson learned.
Which brings us to today.
And to a tale of the first:
A short story, in a slightly warmer (only slightly, like five degrees or so) time, the sun had set and we were all sitting around a table (surprise, I know) merry and boisterous. Wine was flowing, fat was, well, also flowing but being absorbed by previously mentioned free flowing wine so all was right in the bellies of babes. I ask you now, to imagine yourself innocently preparing your salad in the kitchen, smiling at the laughter you can hear coming from the other room, thinking how lovely and civilized it all is, when all of a sudden you hear what sounds suspiciously like tribal chanting. Intrigued, you come out of said kitchen, with said salad in hand, to the following scenario: your very carnivorous (except for one highly amused vegetarian) lovely guests, sitting around the table with glinting bloodlust in their eyes, fists pumping in the air and chanting:Pilo! Pilo! Pilo! Turn to your left and you will see see Pilo, still not quite converted to complete caveman perilously teetering on the edge of am I really going to rip my bare teeth into this meat? ...Then all of a sudden, just as civilized reason is starting to win and Pilo's hand is inching down comes: Do it for the blog!! Pilo! Do it for the blog!!And so dear readers, as these things go, that is all the convincing he needs and Pilo's chance of remaining city human vanishes. Laughter bellows from the crowd and in one fluid swoop, Pilo picks up the whole leg, ravenously mashes face to meat, rips off a piece and I tell you my dear friends, it is a thing of beauty. The crowd roars! The fistspump! Pilo! Pilo!
Notice the stance ...
|Photos have been darkened to preserve dignity ...|
A tale of the second:
A very short slightly fragmented, perhaps rambly with a possible curt end story in a slightly colder (only slightly) time. Up north nestled in a magnificent chalet, were thirteen lovely people (us, totally lovely us) five hours into a memorable, veritable New Year's feast. Artisan cheeses formed abundant mounds, pates burst out of their ramekins, breads lasciviously displayed themselves in baskets, cinnamon and sage scented sweet potatoes beckoned passers by, green and black olives lived harmoniously in one plate, brown butter parsnips pleased palates (ahaaaa
That, was when the sauce disappeared.
It was the horrible scent of charring meat that alerted us. So we followed the nose (always trust the nose, the nose knows - ahaaaa another good one yes?) and immediately went to the oven. The sauce dear readers, was completely gone. Literally. Vanished. Pouff. Into thin air. Before my very eyes. Now the day before I had purchased a lovely lamb leg from a small organic farm in Eastern Quebec (well I actually purchased it from the butcher but they purchased it from a small organic farm in Eastern Quebec, from Steve, I'm making the Steve part up, but not the rest) it looked beautiful. I was super excited so you can imagine how said sauce disappearing incident was really freaking not good! Ahem. So there we stood, oven mitts on, puzzled and pissed. What was a girl to do other than take out the leg mid way (I totally took it out with my oven mitts on) and wash the pan mid way, then, well, put it back in, drizzle with fat and curse the lean gods. Which we did. (Not to worry! all was good in the end! see below text between the **'s)
A lesson learned:
All lunacy aside dear readers, lamb needs fat. Ours was too lean and there was nothing no fat to bind the sauce. When you buy, if you are going to a new butcher, ask them if the lamb they are selling you is their usual stock, if so does it have enough fat or does it need reinforcement? If it is not their usual stock, ask if it has been checked for leanness and if so how it compares and again, do you need to reinforce it. If you have a leg that is more lean than usual there are several ways to reinforce it. You can top the leg with slices of boar bacon (my favorite), you can cut little pieces into the bone and actually place chunks of lamb/pig/lard fat into the meat or, if you are feeling a little nutty, go ahead and baste your leg regularly in duck fat. Fat fat fat!
**names have been changed to avoid incrimination**
**contrary to the title (I took creative liberty) the second lamb was far from "worst" it was lovely. lean lovely.**
Time to dish.
Lamb (fat fat fat) leg with white wine & juniper berries
Here is what you need:
- 3 garlic cloves , crushed
- 3 rosemary sprigs, leaves picked and chopped
- 1 tsp black peppercorns , crushed
- 3 juniper berries , crushed
- olive oil
- 1 whole leg of fatty awesome lamb
- white wine for the marinade and for the sauce
- zest of one lemon
Here is what to do:
- 375 on!. Now, combine the garlic, white wine, rosemary, peppercorns and juniper together with enough olive oil to make a paste. Then rub it all over your lovely lamb and marinade overnight. Take it out the following day and let it come to room temperature. Into the pan it goes to roast for about 1 hr 45 mins. Resting time. Let your baby snooze wrapped in foil for at least 30 mins. This will give you lamb that is still slightly pink in the middle.
- Now, pour off as much fat from the pan as you can, then place the pan on a direct heat, scraping all the awesome bits. Pour in the wine, up to a boil and reduce scraping the pan with a wooden spoon. When ready, smother your lamb in it.
Phfew. I'm totally done.