Monday, March 23, 2015

Slow Roasted Lamb with Garlicy White Beans and Kale

I like a lazy Saturday or Sunday, puttering around the house with no bigger plan than thinking about what I will cook for dinner.  A long slow roast infuses the kitchen with good smells, and most of the work is done by the oven while I curl up on the sofa with a good book.

This leg of lamb fits the bill.  Lamb with garlic is a classic combination and you can throw in whatever herbs you like but for me, rosemary is a must.  Here in Sweden, it is a bit challenging to get a leg of lamb with the bone.  I rarely see it at my local supermarket and have to go to the food halls if I want one.  While I normally prefer my leg with the bone, as I am a firm believer that the bone gives the meat a better flavor, I have found that the de-boned version has its charms.  The main charm being that I can liberally stuff it with garlic and herbs so that all of the meat is infused with flavor.

I decided to eschew the normal roast potatoes and veg for a simple side of brothy beans and kale flavored with more garlic.  The dish is based off a side dish that I had often in a little mountain restaurant in France near Perpignon where we used to have a small summer house.  I like to make the beans just after I put the lamb in the oven and then let them sit on the back of the stove while the lamb is cooking so that all the garlic flavors infuse into the beans. Then I just heat them up again while I am making the gravy.

Serves 4 to 6

Roast Lamb:
1.5 kilo leg of lamb without bone
1/2 head of garlic
bunch of oregano and rosemary
salt and pepper
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 165C.  Peel
and chop the garlic finely. Chop the herbs.  Rub salt and pepper all over the leg of lamb and inside the hole left by the bone.  Mix the garlic and herbs with a bit of olive oil.  Put the majority of the mixture in the hole and rub a bit on the outside of the leg.   Put in the oven and leave to roast for about 3 hours. The meat should be browned on the top and very tender.

juices from the lamb
two tablespoons capers, chopped
a slug of port or marsala
a teaspoon of cornstarch
a bit of water

This won't make a big jug of gravy, just enough for a tablespoon or two per person to moisten the meat. When the meat is done, lift it out onto a cutting board and cover with a piece of tinfoil and let it rest while you prepare the gravy.  If there is a lot of fat in the pan, you can tilt the pan and use a spoon to remove some of it. Use a spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan to get all the nice bits of carmelized juices into the sauce.  Put the pan on the stove if you can, or pour the juices into a little pot and bring them to a boil.  In a cup, put in a few tablespoons of water and a teaspoon of cornstarch and stir until the cornstarch is fully dissolved.  Add this to the juices and stir and cook until the sauce thickens a little bit.  Add the chopped capers and a tablespoon or two of wine. Taste and adjust the seasoning.  If it is too salty, add a bit more water and wine. Pour into a bowl and serve with the meat.

Beans and Kale:
2 cans large white beans
200 grams kale or other greens
1/2 head of garlic
small bunch of thyme
1 carrot
1 stalk of celery
1 onion
olive oil
1 vegetable bouillon cube
salt and pepper
about a cup water

Peel and chop the garlic.  Peel the carrot and chop finely.  Chop the celery and the onion finely.  In a pot, put on a stove at medium heat and add a generous slog of olive oil.  Put in the vegetables and saute for a few minutes, taking care not to let the garlic burn. While the onion mix is cooking, prepare the kale.  Cut the rib out of each leaf of kale and then cut the kale into pieces.  Open the cans of beans, pour into a colander, drain, and rinse with cold water.

Add the water to the onion mix, the bouillon cube, and the kale. Let it boil up for a few minutes until the kale softens.  Add the beans and stir gently so that you don't break the beans.  Put the lid on and let the mixure simmer for about 15 minutes.  Check for seasoning and add a slug of oil oil if you like.

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