Monday, October 31, 2011

Lamb on a Spit

First of all, let me say right off, you don't have to roast this leg of lamb on a spit, which most of us, I would hazard, don't have unless you happen to be someone who spends $5,000 for a gas barbecue grill.
We had an electric broiler with a spit when I was growing up. It was about two and a half feet long and about 18 inches high. My mother got it out on Sunday evenings for our standard dinner of broiled chicken, white rice and spinach. She seasoned the split chicken halves by ladling a spoonful of bacon fat over them, and shoved them in the broiler, where they sizzled and popped. Occasionally, I remember whole chickens or possibly Cornish Game Hens rotating before my fascinated eyes.
But anyway, you don't need a spit to cook this excellent recipe for lamb, and that's according to Hewlett, not me and my winging the recipe. I confess, this dish was actually produced by a guest cook on the blog, to whit, my husband. We had invited people to dinner on the Saturday night before Halloween over a month earlier. The chief guest and his wife got tangled up in a whole series of National Public Radio functions, so we had to quick phone around for more invitees.
I had fully intended to be the chef, and then found myself taking a sudden trip to Worcester, Massachusetts, and driving back on Saturday afternoon in the snowstorm. I normally choose shellfish for these dinners because the fish section is endless. ( If you don't like fish, don't expect it to get any better when we finally get through New England somewhere about 2015. The next region is the South, and it's full of fish too.) However, we had a leg of lamb in the freezer and I had relatively little cash in my bank account, so leg of lamb it was. Which was actually a good thing from my husband's point of view. It's bad enough giving a dinner party where you can't eat the main dish. It's worse when you have to cook something you can't eat.
Now, you don't need a spit for this recipe, but you do need time. This is a three days before recipe. Or at least that's what it says. I think ours marinated for Friday and Saturday. It also takes one hell of a lot of wine. My husband used up two bottles of Two Buck Chuck red (Trader Joe's generic red wine) from the party the night before the wedding.
The guests loved the meat, and so did we. They did not seem to love the sauce, or perhaps in the flood of conversation about hiking, children, Waterbury, Connecticut and our religious origins, they didn't notice it. Anyway, it was untouched all evening.

Lamb on a Spit

1/2 cup plus two tablespoons olive oil
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 shallots, finely minced
1/2 cup finely minced celery
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
4 bay leaves
6 sprigs parsley
2 whole cloves
1 clove garlic crushed
6 cups dry red wine or dry white wine
2 cups wine vinegar
2 teaspoons thyme
1 six pound leg of lamb, boned and tied
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat one-half cup of the oil and add the carrot, onion, shallots and celery. Cook, stirring, until onion is wilted.
2. Add one tablespoon salt, the peppercorns, bay leaves, parsley, cloves, garlic, wine, wine vinegar, and one teaspoon of the thyme. Simmer slowly thirty minutes. Cool thoroughly.
3. Pour the marinade over the meat. Let stand three days in the refrigerator, turning occasionally.
4. When ready to roast, drain the meat one hour before cooking, reserving marinade. Rub meat with remaining oil, remaining thyme and salt and pepper to taste.
5. If the spit is used, roast the lamb to the desired degree of doneness, basting occasionally with a little of the marinade. The time will depend on the intensity of the heat and proximity to the fire. If the meat is to be roasted in the oven, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the lamb in a roasting pan and roast, basting occasionally with a little of the marinade, fifteen to twenty minutes a pound.
6. When the meat is cooked, a sauce may be made with the drippings. To do this, pour off the fat and stir into the drippings, bit by bit, butter kneaded with equal parts of flour. The sauce should be thin. Makes 10 servings.

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