Wednesday, April 23, 2014
With cooler weather upon us appetites change accordingly. For me it’s time to take out the roaster and fill it with a great piece of beef, pork or lamb.
Roasts are so easy to prepare, and depending on the size they cook fairly quickly if you choose the high-heat method.
One of my favorite roasts is a leg of lamb, especially local pastured lamb, which is readily available at farmers’ markets. The lamb that I used for this recipe, however, was from Foggy Meadows Farm on North Haven Island. I had it in my freezer since late summer.
The 4 1/2-pound leg of of lamb has been studded with garlic and herbs, seasoned with salt and pepper and put over a bed of potatoes
One method of preparing lamb that I like is to roast it on a bed of potatoes. Slice the potatoes (peeled or unpeeled) thinly, layer them overlapping into a lightly oiled roasting pan and pour just enough chicken or duck stock over the potatoes barely to cover. Season generously with salt and pepper and put the prepared lamb on top.
To prepare the lamb stud it with cloves of garlic cut into slivers and sprigs of thyme and rosemary. To do this merely make slits into the lamb all over with a sharp knife and insert the garlic and herbs. Season the whole roast generously with salt and pepper. Any leftover chopped herbs should be sprinkled over the lamb. Rub with olive oil.
Roast the meat at 425 degrees for 30 minutes, and then lower the heat to 375 degrees. Roast until an instant read thermometer registers 135 to 140 degrees for medium rare. Don’t overcook the lamb otherwise it gets tough. Too rare and it’s stringy.
A medium-size roast (about 4 to 5 pounds on the bone) should cook in about 1 1/4 hours. Remove the lamb to a cutting board and allow to rest. Meanwhile generously sprinkle 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese over the potatoes and put back into the oven to finish cooking the potatoes and until the cheese is melted and forms a lightly golden crust.
The lamb is done, registering 135 degrees for medium rare; it's removed to a cutting board to rest and the potatoes are sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and put back in the oven to brown and crisp
The cheese-crusted potatoes--flavored with the lamb roasting juices-- are delicious
Carve the meat and serve with the potatoes. The rest of my menu last night was roasted delicata squash and a casserole of stewed tomatoes. For dessert, apple cobbler, filled with lots of local apples, was the perfect ending.
The roast lamb dinner includes the Parmesan potatoes, roast delicata squash and casserole of stewed potatoes with croutons
The recipe for apple cobbler with cinnamon-sugar crust follows
Prepare a pastry dough with 1 1/2 cups flour, pinch salt and 1 teaspoon sugar. Process in the food processor until mixed. Add 1 stick butter and 2 tablespoons lard cut into small pieces. Pulse 10 times in the food processor until the fat pieces are the size of small peas. Add about 1/4 cup ice water and process until the dough holds together. Remove to a floured board and form into two balls, one slightly larger than the other. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until needed.
Meanwhile prepare 4 apples by peeling, coring and cutting into thick slices. Put in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add 1 34 cups water, 1 cup sugar, l teaspoon cinnamon, pinch ground cardammon, allspice, cloves and mace. Stir. Bring slowly to the simmer.
Meanwhile roll out the smaller round of dough into a rectangular shape. Cut into 5 to 6 strips. Once the apple mixture comes to a lively simmer, add these strips of dough and simmer the mixture for 15 minutes, stirring frequently, making sure it doesn't stick. The liquid well get thick and syrupy.
Butter a small baking dish(about 1 quart size) and add the apple mixture. Roll out the second piece of dough to fit snugly over the dish, crimping the sides for an attractive border. Mix together a heaping tablespoon of sugar with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Sprinkle this over the top of the cobbler crust. Cut 2 to 3 slits for venting and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees or until golden brown and the inside is bubbling. Serve warm.
I came across this unusual cobbler recipe in an old soul-food cookbook; it's called crunchy cobbler not because the filling is crunchy but rather the crust is absolutely like crunchy candy dough. I've made some changes to the original recipe for what is an absolutely sensational cobbler
John Golden has written about food, dining and lifestyle subjects for Downeast magazine, the Boston Globe, Cottages and Gardens magazine, Gourmet magazine, Cuisine magazine, the New York Times and the New York Post.
In his highly opinionated blog, John reports on his experiences dining out all over Maine and his visits with food personalities, farmers and farmers’ markets throughout the state.