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Potato Gratin

Gratin potatoes are rich and creamy and so always welcomed at special occasion dinners. Don’t go overboard with the nutmeg. As Chef Patrick O’Connell of The Inn at Little Washington likes to say, “If you can taste the nutmeg, you’ve used too much.” Two things are important to know for preparing this: do not begin by slicing all the potatoes at once and soaking them in water; they’ll lose their starch. Instead, slice and add them to the cream one at a time. And you can’t make this dish ahead of time, because the butterfat will separate when you reheat it.

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1 clove garlic, halved crosswise 3 cups heavy cream 1 teaspoon kosher salt Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg 6 russet potatoes, peeled and placed whole in cold water

Prepare the cream mixture: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Rub the inside of a 2-quart gratin dish with one of the garlic halves. Rub the inside of a large, heavy slope-sided sauté pan with the other garlic half and add the cream, salt, and nutmeg; bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

back and forth from tine to time throughout the process. As soon as all the potatoes are added, turn the heat off and spoon the sliced potatoes into the prepared gratin dish, maintaining overlapping slices as best you can. Pour any remaining cream over the potatoes.

Prepare the potatoes: Using a mandoline, Japanese slicer, or very sharp knife, slice 1 potato crosswise into 1 /4-inch disks. Add those slices to the pan with the cream mixture, overlapping them like shingles. This will help create a layered effect and keep them from sticking together in stacks. Repeat with the remaining 5 potatoes, gently shaking the pan

Bake the gratin: Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the gratin dish on top of it in case any cream boils over. Bake for 45 min- utes, until the gratin is golden brown and bubbling and a sharp knife inserts easily into the center of the potato slices. Serve hot.

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From Da’s Garden

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Roast Leg of Lamb au Jus with Herb Pesto

When I was very young, we’d go to Nana’s house for Saint Patrick’s Day. Nana, my father’s mother, was a very strong woman, the matriarch of the family. When I was ten years old, she took us to Dublin’s Phoenix Park to see Pope John Paul II. We walked all the way from her house to center city, a good hour-and-a-half walk. It seemed to me that all of Ireland was there, and it took all day to get there and back. As we were walk- ing home exhausted that evening, I remember Nana turning to me and saying, “I’m so hungry, I could eat the hind leg off the lamb of God.” Lamb, except for less expensive cuts like shanks, shin bones, or neck meat, was a special occasion meat in my family, reserved for days like Easter and Saint Patrick’s Day. One of the most vivid memories I have of growing up is sitting at the oval table in my Nana’s living room with her and Granda, the eight of our family, and anyone else lucky enough to have been invited for Sunday dinner’s leg of lamb. Occasionally, I’ll be out somewhere and catch a whiff of a leg of lamb roasting, and it takes me back instantly to my place at that table in another time. Too bad if I want to do anything about it, though; Meshelle hates lamb. She never lets me make it at home, but lamb remains one of my preferred meats. As Nana got older, Saint Patrick’s Day dinner shifted to our house. Mam would serve spring lamb with peas because they were the first green vegetables to be seen at that time of year. My version of them is “Marrowfat” Peas (page 172). There were always Roasted Potatoes (page 182), if not also Boiled New Potatoes (page 178) and Mashed Potatoes (page 181). Other nice accompaniments for this dish would be Glazed Baby Carrots (page 166) and Roasted Root Vegetable Purée (page 174).

1 (9-pound) bone-in leg of lamb, H-bone removed by your butcher

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tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2

teaspoons kosher salt

1

cup lamb demi-glace (page 244)

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herb pesto

1 /2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

6 cloves garlic, crushed

1 cup fresh basil leaves

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

leaves

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

leaves (see Notes on Herbs, page 64)

1 /2 teaspoon kosher salt

Roast the lamb: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the leg fat side up in a flameproof roasting pan. Rub it with the oil and season with the salt. Roast for 1 1 /2 hours, until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of the lamb (but not touching the bone) registers 135°F for medium rare.

Make the pesto: Meanwhile, place the oil and garlic in the bowl of a food processor or blender and pulse briefly. Add the basil and process until a

coarse purée forms. Add the thyme, rosemary, and salt and process briefly, until incorporated.

Add the pesto to the lamb: Transfer the lamb leg to a cutting board and spread 4 tablespoons of herb pesto over it. Cover the leg loosely with alu- minum foil and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Make the jus: Meanwhile, skim and discard the fat from the roasting pan. Add the demi-glace to the

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Special Occasions

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{Roast Leg of Lamb au Jus, continued}

pan and place over medium-high heat. Use a flat- edged wooden spatula to scrape up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Present the dish: Pour the jus into a small pitcher or gravy boat. Spoon the remaining pesto into a small serving bowl. Transfer the lamb to a serving platter and carve it at table. At about the middle of the leg, use a carving knife to cut a horizontal wedge the width of the leg and about 2 inches

wide, cutting at a 45° angle from both sides until you hit bone. Then cut thin slices from both sides of the wedge. Once you’ve carved as much meat that way as you can, grasp the bone and stand it on its end with one hand, using your other hand to cut slices off the leg. Spoon some jus over each serving and place a little pesto on the side. Serve with your chosen side dishes.

some jus over each serving and place a little pesto on the side. Serve with your

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my irish table

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