Today’s PRF is brought to you by way of the great British Isles! I’m writing from London, where yesterday it poured a month’s worth of rain in one day. Time to cozy up in front of the fireplace and indulge in all those quintessential British autumn foods: chestnuts, cider, apples, brandy, thickly buttered toast with marmalade, clotted cream, apple-stuffed sausages and roasts of all kinds.
Today I’m attempting to recreate a recipe by the ingenious Mike Robinson, owner of the gorgeous Berkshire country pub, The Pot Kiln. The Pot Kiln is by far the most extraordinary pub I’ve ever visited. Nestled into the gently rolling Berkshire hills, it has a relaxed, friendly atmosphere despite the fact that it boasts some of the best food in England. They grow their own vegetables and animals right behind the pub, ensuring their own high standard of quality farming. However, starring on the menu are seasonal wild meats cooked to absolute perfection and hunted mainly by Mike himself (or so the foodie legend goes…).
I saw Mike make this on British TV a few years ago, but I can’t find a link to the original video or written recipe, so if any of you lovely readers have it, please post it here. I may be missing a few things here and there, but it came out beautifully when I made it according to the original recipe years ago, and it came out beautifully now.
Leg of lamb, bone-in preferred (weight can vary*)
1 bottle red wine
1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
8 oz (250g) butter, softened and ready to mix into a paste
1/2 cup Rosemary, chopped
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Chili flakes
*Because this recipe is a slow braise, the weight of your lamb can vary. The leg I used was 4 lbs (2 kg). I’ll give an approximate cooking time, but essentially it will be done when it’s easily pulled apart and tender.
Prepare your leg by thoroughly patting it dry, then sprinkling it lightly with salt and pepper. Set the meat aside, allowing it to come to room temperature.
Put the cool, softened butter (grass fed is by far superior) into a bowl, add the chopped rosemary, chili flakes, nutmeg and a few whirrs of freshly ground black pepper.
Using a fork, mash the anchovies into a paste. Don’t be apprehensive about using anchovies! Your lamb won’t taste fishy, I promise. Anchovies are the healthy, Italian version of MSG — a flavor enhancer, though unlike MSG they are natural and very good for you. They will deepen all the other flavors, heightening the savory experience. Add them to the butter and herbs, then mix well into a paste.
Slice your onion into 1 inch thick slices and use them to line the bottom of the pot. Set your roast on top of the onions, then using a spatula, smear the butter all over the top half, then turn it over and coat the bottom half until you have a lovely butterball in your pot. Taking care to miss the roast, pour in the bottle of red wine then tightly seal the pot with a fitted lid or aluminium foil.
Cook at 450F for 30 min in order to get the wine simmering. If it’s not simmering at 30 min, whack up the temp to 475F for 15 min and check again. Once a steady simmer has erupted, turn the heat down to 325F for 30 min, then check to make sure it’s still simmering. If the simmer is present, keep the temperature steady, if it’s deflated, turn it up to 350.
As you can see, the simmer is all-important. In my slow-cooking experience, a low temperature creates beautiful results, but only if it’s just high enough to thoroughly cook. On the other hand, if your gentle simmer more closely resembles a full boil at 325, turn your oven down to 300.
Leave for 3 hours, then check to see how it’s doing. If your roast is less than 4 lbs, it might be done around the 3 hour mark. If it doesn’t pull apart with minimal effort, leave it for another hour and check again.
Once you reach the gorgeous, pulling-apart tender stage, your roast is done! Go ahead and have a sneaky taste — not an anchovy in sight!
Cream-y Mashed Potatoes:
6-8 medium potatoes (try to avoid Russet Potatoes as they have the highest glycemic index)
Cream or Heavy Whipping Cream
Chop the potatoes into small pieces, about 1 inch squares. Boil in salted water for 10-15 minutes, or until soft. Drain the water, then add the potatoes back to the pot. The trick to perfect mash is to add a little liquid at a time until it’s soft and creamy but NOT wet or liquidy. You can add about 3 Tbsp cream to the potatoes to start, but then continue adding it in 1 Tbsp increments until the perfect consistency is reached.
Add 2 Tbsp butter to the cream, then mash as thoroughly as you can, stir in more butter and cream, mash, stir, add, repeat. When your potatoes are creamy and fluffy, taste for salt. I always find they need quite a lot of salt to offset the subtle sweetness of the dairy. If you’re feeling adventurous (Go on!) add 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg to your potatoes and stir through. I LOVE nutmeg in mashed potatoes. It makes an already comforting dish just that bit more tasty and reminiscent of cozy autumn flavors.
Nestle your tender lamb atop a mountain of mash, then sprinkle with rich bull’s blood mushrooms. If a roasted chestnut somehow found its way on to your plate, it wouldn’t be the worst accompaniment in the world….