As was previously announced I’m filling in for Tamara, our Doyenne of Digestibles, as guest food goddess for the next few weeks. So before I put on the frilly apron and the tiara, I just want to make a quick apology to Betty Cracker for today’s rain in central Florida. I washed and waxed my car last night, so this one is clearly on me.
We have three recipes for you tonight. I don’t have any photos of any of these preparations that I’ve made myself, so the pictures are from a keyword search.
A request came in for an Easter(ish) recipe, so first up is a roasted leg of lamb. The seasoning is simple and works for both bone in and bone out. For the bone out, I will be including Bessie’s Cornbread Stuffing, which is the only stuffing recipe anyone in my family uses. I’ll explain the name when we get there. You can stuff a bone in roast, but its much trickier/more difficult.
For those of you not into really game-y tasting meat, the fine folks at Food Lab explain that most of that flavor is in the fat. So eliminate most of the fat on your lamb roast and you minimize the game-y flavor. They also have a nice discussion of bone in versus boneless too. I happen to like the game-y flavor so I leave the fat on and I like the ease of preparation and stuffability of the boneless as well..
1 Lamb Roast (bone in or bone out at purchaser’s/consumer’s preference) about 10-12 lbs
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Finely chopped or minced garlic to taste
Rosemary to taste
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the lamb roast from its packaging, rinse off, and pat dry. Sprinkle with kosher salt, set aside, and allow to stand for forty minutes to pull out moisture. After the forty minute salting rub the lamb roast with the olive oil to create an olive coating. Sprinkle with kosher salt (don’t go to heavy as you’ve already salted the meat), freshly cracked black pepper, and the rosemary to taste. Rub the finely chopped or minced garlic all over the lamb roast. Please note/remember: if you have a boneless lamb roast do all of the seasoning on the inside too!
If you’ve gone with a boneless (bone out) roast, before you can roast it you have to tie it up (this post’s safe word, just in case, is “mutton”). Same thing goes if you’ve stuffed the hollowed out end of a bone in roast. Get yourself a good length of butcher’s twine, roll your roast into cylindrical shape, and tie it with the twine. Try to avoid letting the roast assume its natural tapered shape when rolling or you’ll get the wider, cylindrical end cooked just right and the narrower, tapered end overcooked and dry.
For roasting we’re going with Food Lab’s reverse sear. I liked it a lot when I did that standing rib roast back in December. Remember to let your seasoned roast sit at room temperature for a 1/2 hour or so to facilitate roasting. Take your seasoned, rested at room temperature, and twined lamb roast, place it on a wire rack or roasting rack above a catch/drip tray and place it in your 275 degree oven. You’re going to roast for 3 hours for medium rare, so start checking the internal temperature with a probe thermometer at the 2 and 1/2 hour mark. You’re shooting for an internal temperature between 125 and 130 for medium rare, and don’t forget the 5 degree cook over increase. So when the roast reads 125, pull it out and let it rest for 40 minutes. While the lamb is resting increase the oven temperature to 500 degrees. After the lamb has rested place it back in the oven for 15 minutes for the reverse sear. After 15 minutes remove the lamb roast from the oven and let it rest for 5 more minutes. Then just remove the twine, transfer to a cutting board, slice, and serve. I like to use the pan juices juices just as they are for au jus, so I don’t turn them into a thickened gravy.
If you’re going to stuff your boneless roast: after seasoning the inside, place as much stuffing as you reasonably can inside the roast and still roll it into a cylinder. You may actually want to put a little extra stuffing on the narrower end to even out the roast’s shape when rolling. After placing the stuffing inside the roast, roll the roast around the stuffing into a cylinder and then tie it off with the twine. Then simply follow the roasting directions above. For medium rare you’re shooting for an internal temperature of 125, though it may take a little bit longer to get the meat there because of the additional material stuffed inside the roast. And remember: when using your probe thermometer to check the roast’s temperature it is very important to not insert the probe through the meat and into the stuffing! You want to check the lamb’s temperature, not the stuffings. Finally, for the reverse sear at 500 degrees: you’re still only going with a 15 minute roasting time.
Bessy’s Cornbread Stuffing:
Bessy was a nurse that my Mother worked with when she first began her career as a Speech Language Pathologist. For my parents’ first Thanksgiving together my Mom reckoned she could handle the turkey, but needed a stuffing recipe and she got it from Bessy. We’ve been making it every since. This includes several Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners I did for friends while living in Scotland. The best part: it works just as well with a cornbread mix as it does with cornbread from scratch!
Enough cornbread from scratch to fill a 9X11 baking pan
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Crushed sage to taste
One large, sweet onion – chopped fine
Four large stalks of celery – chopped fine
2 Teaspoons of olive oil.
The giblets from a turkey or a large chicken – roasted and minced fine
Chicken stock to moisten the stuffing
Bake the cornbread. In a saute pan sweat off the onions in the olive oil. Roast and then mince the giblets. Crumble the cornbread in a big mixing bowl and add the sweated off onions, the finely chopped celery, and the finely minced roasted giblets. Add the kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and sage to taste. Mix thoroughly. Add just enough chicken stock to moisten the stuffing and hold it together. Once everything is combined and seasoned to your taste, stuff the lamb roast. Or a turkey. Or a chicken. Or place it in a roasting dish and cook it separately, which is also good for anything that won’t fit into the piece of meat or poultry you’re stuffing.
We now come to dessert. Since Purim is this Wednesday and Thursday, I thought we’d go ecumenical here on our recipe exchange and make hamentashen. Hamentashen are triangular filled cookies that are eaten by Jews on Purim. The arch-villain of the Purim story as related in the Scroll of Esther is Hamen. And the story tells us he wore a triangular (tricorne) hat**. So the tradition developed that eating cookies in the shape of his head gear of choice was a fitting way to celebrate his defeat. This recipe is from the 1976 Alliance Sisterhood’s Cookbook and is the one from Mrs. Ida Wargon.
5 Cups of flour (it doesn’t specify, so use all purpose. I suppose if you have a gluten issue, use gluten free****)
1 ounce of yeast
1 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups of warm water
Place the yeast in a 1/2 cup of the warm water in a small bowl. Let stand for 1 hour or until bubbly. Put flour and 1/2 a cup of sugar into a large bowl and make a well in the center. Place the slightly beaten eggs*****, 1/4 cup of the oil, and the bubbly yeast mixture. Start kneading, adding the remaining cup of warm water as you knead. When the dough is well kneaded and smooth, cover and let stand in a warm place until it doubles in bulk. Then knead the dough again, adding the remaining 1/4 cup of oil and 1/2 cup of sugar. Cover the dough and let it rise again. Punch the dough down and you’re ready to cut it out, shape it, and make the hamentashen.
Poppy Seed Filling Ingredients:
1 cup poppy seeds
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup of ground nuts (it doesn’t specify, I’d go with walnuts)
Poppy Seed Filling Directions:
Wash the poppy seeds very thoroughly and boil for a short time. Drain dry. Grind them in a coffee or spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle and add the honey and the egg. Mix well, add the ground nuts, and incorporate everything thoroughly.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the dough into 18 even portions. Knead each portion and roll it out to 1/8 inch thick. Roll them into rounds. Place approximately 2 tablespoons of the filling into the center of each round. Fold the edges over into the shape of a triangle (tri-corne hat) and pinch. Let them sit while the dough rises until double in bulk and then place them onto a greased cookie sheet. Brush with an egg glaze and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until light brown.
* Image found here.
**The Scroll of Esther does not indicate if Hamen was a very early member of the Tea Party.
*** Image found here.
**** I may try this and if I do, I’ll report back on the results.
***** I think this means you just rough them up a bit, but don’t break any limbs or rupture any vital organs…