Archive for May, 2009

About 5 hour lamb

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

Our apartment has been freezing at night for the last week or so.  It’s finally made me understand why there are doors on every internal doorway in the place – it’s so you have a better chance of corralling the draughts that whistle in round most of the window frames.  But even sitting on the couch with at least one and in most cases two closed doors between me and the external walls of the building, I still shiver.  So I am getting all old-school and sewing draught snakes, and in the meantime cooking depths-of-winter dinners, despite the fact that I sit outside in the sun at lunchtimes in shirtsleeves.

Yesterday afternoon we picked up a small leg of lamb, which I cooked last night in an ad-hoc way, vaguely based on gigot de sept heures and modified to suit the time and what else we had in the house (it had been a disorganised and ramshackle kind of shopping expedition). I browned the leg in oil in the Le Creuset on the stovetop, then added (for a 1kg leg) 1 can of tomatoes, very roughly chopped, a couple of cups of stock, and a large glass of red wine.  Also four golf ball-sized onions peeled and halved, four large carrots peeled and each cut into three or four pieces, two fresh bay leaves and a sprig of rosemary.  Put the lid on, then into the oven at 190 C (clear sign that I wasn’t thinking about what I was doing), realised OH SHIT about an hour later and turned it down to 120 C, at the same time turning the leg over in the pot in the hope of miraculously reversing whatever drying had occured by submerging the part that had been above the waterline during the initial roasting. Left it cooking for another 3.5 hours, then pulled it out to see the results.

The liquid had reduced by about two thirds to a shallow bath of delicious juices with a concentrated flavour of the vegetables, wine and lamb. The onions had come apart, and the carrots were braised to silky softness but still holding their shape perfectly. A butter knife sank into the lamb all the way to the bottom of the pot with no effort.  We ate it, lamb, vegetables and broth, in shallow bowls, together with bread from Chouquette spread with good butter.  It was delicious, and we weren’t cold anymore.

Pot liquor

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

I have THE BEST pot of black bean chili on the stove right now.  It needs another 20 minutes or so of cooking but I just had to share the excitement immediately.

I threw ingredients in more or less at random but somehow it has coalesced into my perfect chili.  I think the secret is pot liquor.  I love that phrase (being a fan of liquor of many kinds). It’s the liquid that remains in the pot after cooking the beans.  In this case, I cooked up a big load of black beans this afternoon, and their liquor was smooth, matte,  the colour of melted dark chocolate, and, critically, very tasty.

When it came time to make the chili, I fried a couple of roughly chopped onions until they were golden and soft, added some chopped garlic, a teaspoon or so each of chili powder, cumin powder, cumin seeds and smoked paprika and cooked another couple of minutes until aromatic, then added a tin of tomatoes, about 5 or 6 cups of the cooked drained black beans, a couple of cups of the reserved pot liquor, and two fresh bay leaves.  I am currently in the late stages of simmering it for an hour, adding spoonfuls of pot liquor as necessary to keep it at the right consistency.  Shortly I will eat it in soft tacos with vegies roasted with chili and cumin, and guacamole.  I am sure I will make disgusting moans of enjoyment while doing so.  Can’t wait!