Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Eve

Eastside Road, December 24, 2014—
CLEARLY ONE OF the Hundred Plates: Roast leg of lamb. And there is no simpler way to roast one, nor more festive, than this Gigot à la ficelle, leg of lamb on a string. Of course you have to prepare for it. I'm not sure how this gigot was prepped, but I suspect it was simply trussed and salted; I don't think I'd have done more than that. Oh: and a hole was drilled through the bone at its end, to run the ficelle through. Ordinary kitchen twine is all you need — the twine must be at least two-ply, as the roasting method depends on the string's natural tendency to twist.

And the string must be soaked: you don't want it getting hot and burning through, dropping the roast onto the hearth!
Drilling the bone. Note ullage in bottle!

Now it's simply a matter of tying one end of the string to the gigot, through the hole in the bone, and the other end to a nail in the mantel over the fireplace, letting the gigot hang a little above center, the fire well behind it. Obviously there'll be some experimenting to do to get the fire at the right degree of heat. And it's heat you want, not flames.

The gigot will probably begin to spin of its own accord soon after you've hung it. When it's spun as far as the string likes in one direction, darned if it doesn't stop, then begin turning back the other way. I don't know if it's true that faster spinning slows the roasting; it seems so to me, but this may be a delusion. In any case, it roasts on all sides. You may want to finish it on the grill.` \

You'll notice a pyrex baking dish below the roast, to catch the drippings; in the dish, blanched potatoes and onions, roasting in their turn before the fire.

All this was done by the neighbors down the hill. Eric is practised at this; he does most of the meat cooking in the family, outside in good weather, inside like this when it's cold or rainy — or, I imagine, he wants to socialize with the guests while cooking. Either way, the result is consistently delicious.

on the grill.jpgroast lamb.jpgtarts.jpg
Grilling the sausagesOn the plateServing the tarts

Afterward, the green salad, and cheeses, and then, back in the living room, the Christmas tarts: a fresh pineapple tart with almond pastry; a perfect nut tart. Egg nog with, as you may have noticed, Bourbon, brandy, and a float of dark rum…
Trebbiano, "'l Tresen", La Chimera (Chiomonte, Piemonte): crisp, spicy, floral, very interesting); Volnay-Santenots Maison Naudin Père et fils (Savigny-les-Beaune, 1962 (absolutely optimal, mature but luscious, deep and strong); Syrah, Unti (Dry Creek Valley), 2012 (nicely balanced, young, good presence and finish)

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