Cooking should be a family affair. I have many wonderful memories of cooking with my family as a child and even still today I cook with both my parents, my sister and my fiancee and her family quite regularly. It preserves family recipes (as well as creating a new generation of them) and presents opportunities for bonding that no other activity can offer.
My half-sister is working on a Girl Scouts of America badge for some kind of international food thing. I didn’t catch the details but she basically had to prepare four dishes and present one to her troop. We brought her a pile of cook books that traversed a pretty broad range and she settled on one of Parisian cooking by Ina Garten. To be up-front, I’m not a fan of Ina’s show or her uppity Hampton’s approach to food but in the spirit of the project, in my love of my homeland’s cuisine and because the recipes my half-sister selected were designed to produce a well formed three course meal we’ll let my distaste for the Barefoot Contessa go, for now.
For never having selected dishes to put a meal together, created a shopping list and led the provisions expedition in the market or really cooked more than the basic boil water or toast bread experience in the kitchen it was inspiring to see how well she did with all of it.
The meal opened with lovely cheese puffs. These are a fairly simple cheese based dough recipe that are then baked with an additional covering of cheese. Next, to provide something of substance for my vegetarian fiancee she selected and made a version of gratin languedocien or more accurately it was aubergine gratin (eggplant in grated cheese) and then for a meal for the omnivores of the house there was the roasted lamb with beans. Although typically the rule of thumb is you follow the recipe exactly as provided the first run through and then create your own experiments once you have the technique we decided to substitute a little due to all the sous chef’s experience and her personal preference for black beans over white.
The lamb is a pretty straight forward cooking experience which I’ve documented here based on our variance in the prep creating a wonderfully perfumed and beautifully cooked piece of lamb that will render even the most skeptical carnivore in awe of it’s juicy, full flavor. If you want to stick to the original recipe you can look it up on Ina’s site or the Food Network, I’m not going to bother transcribing it here.
boneless leg of lamb
chicken or vegetable stock
country style Dijon mustard
extra virgin olive oil
fresh cracked pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degree
Prep the rub by combining
Prep the lamb on a clean cutting board by patting dry and removing the mesh covering
with the open side down trim the excess fat as necessary, do NOT remove all the fat, you must leave some to ensure proper cooking
Mince the garlic and combine with rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper and mustard in a small bowl
Rub the flesh of the meat inside and out with the mixture, thoroughly coating and then allow to stand for 15 minutes or so. Meat should be cooked beginning at just below room temperature and NOT straight out of the refrigerator to ensure even cooking.
Place the mean open side down in the roasting pan
Clean and coarsely chop the onion, celery and carrots and add them to the roasting pan
Add a little bit of the stock to the roasting pan, just enough to cover the bottom with about 1/4″ of liquid
Combine additional garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt, pepper and mustard with some stock and keep warm
Roast for about 1 hour 15 minutes ensuring there is enough liquid in the pan, add the above combination as necessar
Check for doneness after the first 75 minutes. This should bring the internal temp to about 130 which would be rare. Continue cooking for additional donenes, do NOT over cook.
Remove from oven and let rest covered for 10-15 minutes, do NOT cut the meat right away.