Stevens takes you by the hand, and guides you through each recipe. She gives a mouthwatering description of the dish, advises on ingredient selection, and provides detailed preparation instructions. The recipes range from the simple, such as World's Best Braised Cabbage
, to sophisticated dishes like Breast of Veal Stuffed with Sausage and Red Pepper, to classics such as Coq au
Stevens teaches you how to braise properly, and how to layer and concentrate flavors. The results are shockingly good. I say "shockingly" because the end products taste like so much more than you thought they would.
One thing I have always, always disliked is lamb. The smell of it. The thought of it. But Master Chow loves it, and I am not a veggie-Nazi, even though I don't eat meat. What people choose to eat is their own business. I cook what he likes, just as I would cook vegetarian if my spouse preferred it. When I do make lamb for him, it is special, and I will pay a premium for organic meat that was raised humanely.
I decided, then, to treat Master Chow to his favorite, leg of lamb. And Molly Stevens provided the inspiration with her intriguing recipe for Seven Hour Leg of Lamb. It was easy to prepare, and the results were extraordinary. "What?" you say. How could someone who hates lamb know this? Precisely because I don't like it. When it was done, I picked a little charred bit to see if it was any good, and I practically swooned to the kitchen floor. Unbelievable.
No, it's not enough to convert me to carnivorous ways, but what does that matter? Master Chow said it was the some of the best lamb he'd ever had.
The meat was so tender, you could cut it with a spoon, just as Molly Stevens promised. The depth of flavor was tremendous, with no gaminess. The vegetables were tender and flavorful. Serve this to guests and they will believe you studied at the Cordon Bleu.
Try this recipe. You will not be disappointed.
Seven Hour Leg of Lamb
From "All About Braising," by Molly Stevens
Recipe abbreviated to save on typing
One 6 to 8 pound bone-in leg of lamb (mine was about 5 pounds, so I braised it for 5.5 hours total instead of 7 to 8 hours)
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth (I used wine)
2 cups stock (I used beef)
2 bay leaves
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, or 2 teaspoons dried
15 garlic cloves (yes, 15), peeled and smashed
1 cup chopped canned peeled tomatoes, juices reserved
8 golf-ball sized yellow onions, or onions making up a total of 2 pounds
6 carrots, cut crosswise in half, and then halved lengthwise into fat sticks
6 medium turnips, peeled and halved (smaller turnips are better than huge ones)
Heat broiler on high.
Trim lamb of excess fat, and if there is a dry, whitish parchment layer, remove that. Be gentle about the fat - don't dig into the meat. You want to leave a thin layer of fat. Season lamb with salt and pepper and place in roasting pan.
Slide the lamb under the broiler until the fat begins to sizzle and the surface of the meat takes on a brown speckled appearance, about 5-10 minutes. Turn the meat by grabbing the bone with a dish towel, and broil the other side for 5-10 minutes. Transfer lamb to a baking sheet.
Turn down oven to 275 F, and place rack in lower third of the oven.
Pour excess fat out of the roasting pan, being careful not to discard the brown bits and juices. Set pan over one or two burners set on high, add the wine, and bring to a boil. Boil until the wine is reduced by about half, about 5 minutes. Add stock, bay leaves, thyme, garlic, and tomatoes with their juice, and bring to a boil.
Return lamb to roasting pan, lower heat to medium high, and bring liquid back up to a simmer. Scatter the onions, carrots, and turnips around the meat. Cover pan with heavy duty foil, and place lamb in oven. Braise for 5 to 7 hours (it will depend on how much meat there is), gently turning every two hours using two large slotted spoons. The meat will be falling off the bone.
If you are worried your oven might run hot, or that the meat might cook too fast, turn the oven temperature down to 265 F the first two hours (this is what I did).
Carefully transfer lamb to a serving dish. Don't worry if everything falls apart at this point! Skim juices of fat (or use a gravy separator), discard it, and bring juices up to a simmer. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed. Spoon sauce over meat and vegetables. You will not have to carve the meat - it will be that tender. Simply provide a serving spoon!