The idea of cooking for a large group of people can be quite daunting. Holidays especially invoke the kinds of gatherings in which large roasts and glazed hams are required to feed the masses. Worries spread from not having enough food, to burning the rolls, to spilling red wine all over the carpet just as everyone has sat down. Often the meat can cause the most anxiety, as people are usually the least comfortable cooking several pounds of the main protein. From cooking time and temperature, to seasoning and butchery, meat cookery is a skill that requires some effort.
Braising is without a doubt the easiest of the meat preparation techniques, and produces a moist product full of flavor. Defined by the Food Lovers Companion braising is “a cooking method by which food(usually meat or vegetables) is first browned in fat, then cooked, tightly covered, in a small amount of liquid at low heat for a lengthy amount of time.” This process allows the meat to stay moist while the cook has time to prepare the rest of the meal. Adding vegetables to the cooking liquid during the hour provides a side dish for the meal and the liquid becomes the sauce. Whether braising an eight pound leg of lamb for a large Easter party or a three pound brisket for a simple Friday night dinner, add braising to your repertoire and you will find yourself no longer worrying about the main entree. With more time on you hands you can focus the rest of the meal and try that tricky recipe you have been meaning to get to, or better yet socialize with your guests.
Braised Leg of Lamb
8 pound leg of lamb(I had the butcher removed the bone, wrap the meat around it and tie it up)
8 cloves of garlic, peels removed
3 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 yellow onion, halved and sliced thinly
1 small can tomato paste 6 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 cup dry red wine 2 bay leaf,
2 rosemary, 3 thyme stalks
4 medium size parsnips, peeled and sliced quartered
15 baby carrots
20 new potatoes
20 red pearl onions, peeled
1. Remove lamb from the refrigerator one to two hours before you are cooking to allow the meat to room temperature.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cut small slits downward into the lamb in sporadic places, pushing the garlic into the slits.* Season both sides vigorously with salt and pepper.
3. Place the roasting pan on the stove top on medium high heat. When the pan is hot, heat the oil in the pan. Add the lamb and sear one side until browned, five to seven minutes. Turn over and sear the other side. Remove from roasting pan.
4. Turn heat down to medium and add the sliced onion to the roasting pan. Cook the onion until translucent and soft, then add the tomato paste and cook one minute more. Add the wine, stock, and herbs. Bring liquid to a boil. Add the lamb back to the roasting pan. Cover the pan tightly with tin foil. Place the pan in the oven.
5. Roast for two hours(make sure the liquid is simmering, the temperature will depend on your oven)
6. Remove pan from oven and add the vegetables. Place the pan back on the stovetop burners and bring the liquid back to a boil. Tightly cover the pan with tin foil and place the pan back in the oven for an additional hour.
7. Remove lamb from pan and strain out vegetables. Reduce the liquid for 20 minutes, skimming the fat from the top. Thinly slice the lamb and arrange on a serving platter. Serve with the vegetables and the sauce.
*This tip and many others found on this post and throughout the website were shared by my good friend and culinary confident Jessica Largey, a true gem of a friend and a gift to the gastronomic world.