March 2, 2008

Me, Anthony, and some grout

I’ve wanted to make this recipe for quite some time. The idea of sealing the casserole with“dough like grout” really appealed to me. It seemed rustic and primitive, like something a cook in Provence would do while chasing chickens out of the kitchen. Plus I love crafty, gimmicky techniques in my kitchen. Blow torches, hammers, screwdrivers, you name it, if it really belongs in a garage or an kindergarten class, I’m interested. Making a “caulking material” sounded messy and fun.

And, of course, Mr.Bourdain is one of my super heroes, of cooking AND writing. Such amazing talent with a veneer of derelict-ness that sends me into a tizzy. He’s like the Tom Robbins of cooking. My best friend can’t abide him – says he is “offensive”. Well, so? Really, does anyone like a "defensive" guy???

I love his books, his cooking, his travel shows.

His cookbook “Les Halles” is the only one I actually keep right in the kitchen. I look at it frequently, while waiting for something to boil, bake, or soak. It’s motivating. I’ve learned a lot from it, even without cooking the actual recipe I’m reading. I’ve made quite a few of his recipes, all tremendously good. But this leg of lamb…it just kept calling to me. I’ve always had a phobia of sheep. It stems from some Basque sheepherders, who were keeping their herd on my Dad’s field during the winter. They tricked me into eating some sheep’s blood soup. I was 10 years old and not quite ready for something that exotic. Plus, they told me they would cook my Shetland pony if I didn’t get moving. No wonder Spain is in such a pickle!

So, while in Costco the other day, buying the usual cart of crap I don’t really need (you know - 6 tires, a case of Starbuck’s Cappuccino, printer paper, a gallon of artichoke tapenade, and fleece socks) I looked at their lamb and there was a very nicely sized (about 4.5 pounds) leg of lamb. It was time to get over my fear of sheep.

Ok, Anthony, let’s do this thang!

I’ve adapted the recipe to the actual size of the leg of lamb I bought… Anthony’s meat is much larger. No bun intended. Oh please, someone grout my mouth!

“Gigot de Sept Heures” (Seven Hour Leg of Lamb)

1 leg of lamb, about 6 lb (mine was 4.5 lb)
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (kept that the same)
20 whole garlic cloves, peeled (that too…love the garlic)
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 small onions, thinly sliced (I used 1 medium sized onion)
4 carrots, peeled (I used 4 small carrots, but didn’t peel them)
1 bouquet garni (no cheesecloth in the hizzy, so I just threw the bay leave, thyme sprigs and parsley right in there)
1 cup dry white wine (I used a cheapo Sauvignon Blanc, cause I don’t drink a lot of white wine)

1 cup flour
1 cup water (this is the fun part…supposedly…more later!)

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Using a paring knife, make many small incisions around the leg and insert a sliver of garlic into each of the incisions. Rub the lamb well with the olive oil. Season lamb all over with salt and pepper. Place it a Dutch oven (I used my trusty orange Le Creuset) and add the onions, carrots, whole garlic, bouquet garni, and wine. Put the lid on the Dutch oven

2. In the medium bowl, combine the flour and water to form a rough “bread dough”, mixing it well with a wooden spoon. Use the dough like grout or caulking material to create a seal that connects the lid to the Dutch oven. Place the Dutch oven in the oven and cook for 7 hours.
3. Remove the Dutch oven from the oven and break the seal. Ideally, that leg of lamb will be “so damn tender that you’ll be able to eat it with a spoon”. (in Anthony’s own words!)

Ok. Everything went swimmingly until I mixed up the flour and water. Dough? What dough? It was like a thick pancake batter. I added more flour, but just couldn’t get it to behave in a way that would be appropriate to get a good caulk. Frustrated, I sealed the casserole with a double layer of foil, then placed the lid on top. Maybe someone has tried this with better success and can let me know what happened to my Play-Doh???!!!!

Also, decreased cooking time to 5 ½ hours. Came out perfect. Delicious. I really could have eaten it with a spoon. Very successful pot of meat!

I served this with smashed red potatoes (with their jackets and a little sour cream and butter), roasted green beans (tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper, 400 degrees for about 20 minutes) and a great little jalapeno-mint sauce to spoon over the falling apart lamb.

Jalapeno-Mint Sauce

2 tablespoons sugar
½ cup water
¼ cup rice vinegar
8-10 oz jar of jalapeno jelly
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Combine the sugar, water and vinegar in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Take off heat and whisk in the jelly until well combined. Stir in the mint and lemon juice. Refrigerate to cool and thicken slightly. Spoon over meat and potatoes. Yum.

So, I’ve conquered my fear of lamb….this was an amazingly simple and astoundingly delicious rehabilitation. I just want to figure out how to do the damn grout!


Peter M said...

I reall should finally by his did look rustic and delicious inside.

Heather said...

I was just thumbing through my copy last night! He has no buerre blanc recipe, funny. Then again, he admits to not being that great at making it.

It's a great read, though (I'm actually modeling my own cookbook after Tony's).

Jenny said...

Another great post girl!
I've never done much research on Anthony Bourdain, but have heard so much about him I'll probably go check him out!

The recipe looks fantastic!

I was cracking up at your costco cart, sounds too similar to mine. So many odds and ends!

Catherine Wilkinson said...

Yes, you should! If for no other reason then his crazy writing! His recipes are fairly simplistic in execution, but great depth and complexity in flavor. He's hilarious.

Bourdain is great. You're writing a cookbook? Can't wait! How's the finger?

Yes, Bourdain. You'll love his recipes. Especially if you have "fear of meat", as I do. His instruction has been very helpful.
I need to cut up my Costco card. It's out of hand. Do you know how much toilet paper we have?????

Emiline said...

I love Tony! I don't have this cookbook, but it's on my list.
This lamb is impressive. Jalapeno-mint sauce? Mmm.
I have a fear of cooking lamb, too. My dad bought some last year at Sam's (By the way, I buy those cappuccinos too) and it smelled really bad, so I'm afraid of it now. I think it was just bad meat.

Karen said...

Hi Catherine - I'm glad you visited my blog and now I can do the same...

I have a little thing for Mr. Bourdain, I admit.

He does that bad boy/sensitive artist thing so well. Come to think of it, that's how my husband won me over!

This looks like the per-fect thing to do with a Costco leg of lamb. What a feast.

Cakespy said...

Woo! Sounds like a hot date to me! Except wouldn't his cover image just stare...and stare.. ;-)

congrats on challenging yourself with this recipe--looks like the outcome was fantastic.

Heather said...

I made a lamb shoulder last night that was this tender. Thanks for the retarded cat story, Catherine! It does go well with mah meds. The finger is getting better. It doesn't throb any more!

Birdie said...

Anthony is one of my favorite chefs too! He is so daring.

Thanks for your good wishes on the Bays English Muffin Win. I now have a new favorite salad!

Bellini Valli said...

This slow cooked lamb would make the house so fragrant and homey. I bet the meat just fell off of the bone:D

Catherine Wilkinson said...

I've seen the lamb light! No more fear! Bring on the sheep!

Thanks! I love your blog, so well-written! Someday, maybe we'll meet at an..event!

I'll take Tony anyway I can get him! What a muffin!

You are healed, sister!!! Praise the cat!

I hope you have lots more wins! Like I said, that was a hard one to win! Props!!!

Jeena said...

Hi there my name is Jeena and I have started a food recipe forum that I thought you would like to join here Click here for food recipe forum

I would love to see you on there to chat about food and cooking you can talk about anything you like and start your very own topics. :-)
or see my main food recipe website Jeenas food recipe site

Hope to see you soon


Jeena x

Catherine Wilkinson said...

just missed your comment! It DID smell wonderful! A very comfy dish, really very easy, even with the grout missing!

Tracy said...

I agree with you about Anthony Bourdain. I love his writing. I've been eyeing his cookbook for ages but haven't heard of anyone who actually cooked from it. This sounds interesting and adventurous ... I've never cooked lamp.

Zen Chef said...

1 cup flour and 1 cup water sounds awfully wrong. No wonder you ended up with a pancake batter. haha. It should be more like 1 cup flour for 1/2 cup water. Maybe a misprint. Anyway, it looks delicious! I can smell it from here. :-)
I made a braised lamb shoulder yesterday, moroccan themed. Delicious too. I will post it soon.

Catherine Wilkinson said...

That's a "good investment" cookbook. Lots of good basic technique (especially with meats)..I love his writing. Not for the faint of heart, tho!

I know, what a goof I am! I should have known, but if Bourdain writes it, I believe it! Misprint, for sure! Maybe I'd try that trick again, but the foil worked just fine. Can't wait to see your braised lamb shoulder!
I'm all into sheep now!

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"The Dish" by Catherine Wilkinson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.