This meal was all about balance. i have gone on at some lengths about the trinity of protein, starch and vegetable but while keeping to those precepts, this meal transcended, becoming almost a single dish in the balances of flavors and textures. the lamb, soft, delicate and hot from the oven. the potatoes, crispy exterior with a moist fluffy interior. and the juicy tomatoes, ripe with flavor from the bleu cheese. yes, this was indeed a nice meal, complemented by a bottle of one of my favorite wines, casillero del diablo merlot. i’ll probably rant about this at some length in the future but simply put, as far as i am concerned, chilean merlot is the absolute pinnacle. but, before i digress further, let me detail out how i did what i did… i am going to follow the format of putting the dishes in the order i prepare them, firstly it will make sense if you want to follow along and make the same dishes and secondly i can mentally recall better when i go thru them as i made them.
i owe a debt of gratitude to Gary Rhodes for these, they are based off a recipe in one of his books and are always a favorite when we make them at home. they are made in three stages so not something you will pop out in 20 minutes but well worth the time. the outsides of the potatoes get nice and crispy while the insides take on a texture not unlike mashed potatoes. they go really well with just about any roast you would like. Start with 6 new potatoes, relatively small ones with a nice uniform shape to them. peel the potatoes and slice in half. drop these into boiling salted water until they just begin to soften. drain and set aside. mix a cup of flour with a generous three or four grinds of black pepper and salt. roll the potatoes in the flour and plan fry them in a shallow layer of oil until browned on both sides (turning once of course, they aren’t gonna brown if they are just sticking up in the air). do this in batches if needed so that you don’t overcrowd your pan and lose too much heat. after all the potatoes are browned, roast them in a 325 degree oven for around 45 minutes. just before serving, drop a 2 tbsp lump of butter into the roasting pan and shake to coat all the potatoes. cover and wait for the other dishes to be ready.
Tomatoes stuffed with Bleu Cheese and Bacon
In years past, i was fairly against bleu cheese. it did not appeal to me one single bit. however, because my wife likes it, i began using it in the occasional dish and slowly, it grew on me. i have to say that i like blue shropshire more than your standard blue cheese but alas, the rainy shores of England are a bit of a trip and i have to make due with what i have.
this is another of those ultra-simple dishes that will get people raving. easy to make with a real nice payoff. start by coring and excavating four tomatoes, beefsteak or any of similar size and shape. For me, it was a chance to use my melon baller for something other than taking up space in my cooking kit. turn them over to drain out any excess liquid but don’t stress yourself too much about it. in a medium mixing bowl, mix together 1 cup of panko bread crumbs, 5 oz of bleu cheese, 2 beaten eggs, 4 minced cloves of garlic, 3 crumbled slices of bacon (cooked of course) and season with salt, pepper and oregano. stuff this mixture into the tomatoes and set aside until your lamb is done. these go under the broiler for about 12 minutes which coincides pretty well with the amount of time you need your leg of lamb to rest before carving.
I have to be honest, it felt really strange to me that the main course of the meal was the last thing i starting preparing. usually, i would expect loving devotion throughout the day to the main course but for something as tasty as a leg of lamb, it really was a question of firing and forgetting. I went very minimal on the lamb because the point was to bring out the lamb, not show of the contents of my spice cabinet. i rubbed the leg with a bit of olive oil, sprinkled with salt, pepper and a bit of rosemary and then simply roasted it on a rack in a roasting pan until the internal temperature hit 150 degrees. start it out at 400 degrees for the first 15 minutes then back it down to 325. the approximate time is around 20 minutes per pound so my 4 1/2 pound leg took around about 1 1/2 hours and came out with a nice medium-rare texture. lovely if i do say so myself. after the lamb has reached the required internal temperature, remove from the oven and wrap in foil to rest for around 15 minutes before carving and serving.
Once again, Eddie joined me in this feast and welcome he is as he has decided to buy the adult beverages for each meal which is certainly fine by me. the reception was overwhelmingly positive, biggest impact on me was eddie saying that although he had eaten lamb dishes many times, this was the first time that he had actually tasted lamb. point for me in my opinion, thats exactly what i was going for, showcase the natural flavors of the prime ingredient.
thats it till next week but i wanted to drop a few teasers for those that are keeping count. cath, i plan on a grown up version of a meal that i made quite often late night in japan. also, you know who you are, i am considering working up a poached scallop served in a seawater reduction. the next meal is going to be my take on the all american bbq, what with the whole 4th of july thing. however, he says slyly, i may not leave the room to do it 🙂