Monday, May 15, 2006
When in London ...
Must Have Mutton
OK, ok ... before I get lambasted by my Londoner pals whose tables would be graced by nothing but the finest, most tender spring lamb, let me correct myself:
When in London, one must have the succulent lamb.
Mutton, of course, is the flesh of an adult sheep that can be tough at times. I've also been told that in slang terms, mutton (as in "mutton dressed as lamb") is a woman past her prime who sadly dons the trendiest wear for twentysomethings from TopShop, H&M, and the like. Mutton is second only to my favorite bit of new slang learned so far on the trip: Chav. A Chav is defined as someone sporting "white trainers and fake Burberry." It follows in the line of naff.
Needless to say there were neither chavs nor muttons present Sunday evening at the Barbican where Charles Kassouf and Katie Barry prepared a gorgeous leg of lamb to serve as our Sunday roast. Nothing could be more delicious or fitting for our springtime visit to England.
Roasted Spring Lamb
Sauteed Savoy Cabbbage
Roasted New Potatoes With Herbes de Provence
Roasted Butternut Squash Rubbed With Harissa
Cannelli Bean and Bell Pepper Salad
Freshly Baked Pita Bread
The Kassoufian Method for Succulent Spring Lamb
Score the leg of lamb and rub in 1/4 cup olive oil, 3 cloves of minced garlic and minced fresh rosemary. Broil in oven on high heat, 200 C (450 F), until the top flesh carmelizes nicely with the embedded herbs. Turn the heat down to 170 C (300 F) and roast "slow and low" for approximately 1-1/2 hours. When it's done, the lamb should reach an internal temperature of 140 C.
Charles' Homemade Pita Bread
(Adapted from The Joy of Cooking)
Combine in large bowl (or bowl of heavy duty mixer):
3 cups bread flour
1-1/2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/4 cups room-temperature water
Mix by hand or on low speed for about 1 minute to blend all ingredients. Knead for about 10 minutes by hand (or with dough hook on slow to medium speed) until the dough is smooth, soft, and elastic. Add flour or water as needed; the dough should be slightly tacky, but not sticky.
Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and toss it once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
Punch the dough down, divide equally into 8 pieces, and roll the pieces into balls. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. If you do not have a pizza or baking stone, place baking sheet upside down on an oven rack to serve as hearth.
On a very lightly floured surface, roll out each ball of dough into a thin round, about 8 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick. Spray the stone or baking sheet with a mist of water, wait 30 seconds, then place as many dough rounds as will fit without touching directly onto the hearth.
Bake until the dough puffs into a balloon, about 3 minutes, wait 30 seconds, then remove each bread to a rack to cool. If you leave the breads in the oven too long, they will not deflate to flat disks.