Friday, March 4, 2016

HFF: Roasts

5. Roasts (February 26 - March 10) They’re a staple of the historic table, in many different shapes and forms and types. It’s also a cooking technique. Try a historic recipe for a roast, or a recipe that involves roasting, and tell us how it turned out.

I picked up a Lamb Belly at my butcher's yesterday. (My husband and I are trying to reduce the high-methane-producing animals in our diet - so beef and pig are out.) Never having cooked this cut, nor much lamb at all, I asked the butcher what she recommended. Apparently, some people roast it, some people braise it, some people fry it on high heat and slice it thin. Roast! Well, that caught my ear, as I had a roast challenge!

The only problem with this lamb roast is that it's not a leg of lamb -- which is the traditional lamb roast. A lamb belly is a wide, thin slab of meat. No biggie, I figure. I'll make a roulade-type thing and stuff it. And lucky me, but my whole meal wound up being recipes printed back to back!

Roast Lamb
A leg of lamb is usually sent from market wrapped in caul; remove caul, wipe meat, sprinkle with salt and pepper, place on rack in dripping-pan, and dredge meat and bottom of pan with flour. Place in hot oven, and baste as soon as flour in pan is brown, and every fifteen minutes afterwards until the meat is done, which will take about one and three-fourths hours. It may be necessary to put a small quantity of water in pan while meat is cooking. Leg of lamb may be boned and stuffed for roasting. See stuffing, under Braised Mutton.
Make gravy, following directions for Roast Beef Gravy on page 202, or serve with Currant Jelly Sauce.

Hmm, see stuffing under braised mutton?
1 cup cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup melted butter, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 tablespoon Poultry Seasoning, 1/4 cup boiling water.

Directions for gravy on page 202?

Roast Beef Gravy. Remove some of the fat from the pan, leaving four tablespoons. Place on front of range, add four tablespoons flour, and stir until well browned. The flour, dredged and browned in pan, should give additional color to gravy. Add gradually one and one-half cups boiling water, cook five minutes, season with salt and pepper, and strain. If flour should burn in pan, gravy will be full of black particles.
Well that looks like it'll be tasty. But let's cast our eyes over more of this chapter to make sure I picked the right recipe for tonight. Hmm, what's this "Lamb Bretonne"...?
Lamb Bretonne
Serve hot thinly sliced roast lamb with
Beans Bretonne. Soak one and one-half cups pea beans over night in cold water to cover, drain, and parboil until soft; again drain, put in earthen-ware dish or bean pt, add tomato sauce, cover, and cook until beans have nearly absorbed sauce.
Tomato Sauce. Mix one cup stewed and strained tomatoes, one cup white stock, six canned pimentoes rubbed through a sieve, one onion finely chopped, two cloves garlic finely chopped, one-fourth cup butter, and two teaspoons salt.

And thus, my whole meal was easily planned with back-to-back recipes.

The Challenge:
The Recipe: Lamb Bretonne (Roast Lamb, Stuffing, Beans Bretonne)
The Date/Year and Region: 1922 edition of The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book by Fannie Merritt Farmer, published Boston, MA
How Did You Make It: The alterations I made to the roast lamb were to a) make it a roulade (omg I officially hate tying up a round roast soooo much!) b) stuff it and c) instead of using a rack I used porcelain chopstick rests. I also never noticed the flour browning (I'm cooking at 350F), so I basted it with smaltz starting at an hour in.
The alterations I made to the stuffing were to use corn flake crumbs instead of cracker crumbs, and to use a mix of spices instead of poultry seasoning. (Oregano, Rosemary, Nutmeg, Cayenne)
The alterations I made to the Beans Bretonne were to use one pickled pepper snagged from a pickle jar and some red pepper flakes instead of the six canned pimentos.
Time to Complete: overnight soaking for beans, cooking beans for 2 hours during the day, and then 30 mins prep for beans and 2 hours cooking. 10 mins prep for lamb, 1 3/4 hours cooking for lamb. 5 mins cooking for gravy. Not very much ACTIVE cooking.
Total Cost: $9.90 for the lamb. Everything else was in storage.
How Successful Was It?: Pretty tasty! The lamb was tastiest with lamb + stuffing + gravy + beans/tomato sauce. It was a little too dry otherwise.
How Accurate Is It?: I'd say pretty accurate. All of my alterations are fairly normal ones.

And a final comment from my husband: We should make this again, but with an actual roast, not the stuffed one. And serve it with biscuits. Maybe cheesy ones? (*hopeful face)

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