Leg of Lamb with Rosemary, Garlic and Currant Marinade

4 lbs leg of lamb 1 tsp sugar

½ cup red currants

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tbsp rosemary, minced

½ lemon, juice and zest

2 tsp salt

1½ tsp black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450°F

Cut away any large chunks of fat, membrane and tendons from the leg of lamb, then pat it dry.

Sprinkle the sugar over the berries and let them sit for a couple of minutes before crushing them with a fork. Add the garlic, rosemary, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper. Stir together then rub on the meat, making sure to cover every inch. Let the lamb marinate at room temperature for 45 minutes or in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours.

Place the lamb on an oven rack in a baking pan. Add 1 cup of water to the pan. Make sure the rack is high enough that the lamb is not sitting in the cooking water. Cook for 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350°F and let roast for 70 to 80 more minutes, or until the lamb’s internal temperature has reached 145°F for medium rare or 155°F for medium.

Let the meat rest for 15 minutes before slicing it. Make a jus from the collected juices by reducing them to half in a small saucepan and if you would like, add a little heavy cream to it right before serving.

Serve with roasted Potatoes and a green salad.

Susan’s Ham

Honestly I have no idea who Susan is, but her ham is delicious.

  • Ham
  • Whole cloves
  • Dijon mustard
  • Brown Sugar
  • Apple Juice
  • 8 ounces of figs
  • 8 ounces of prunes
  • 8 ounces of other dried fruits
  • Port

Score ham and press in whole cloves.  Cover ham with Dijon mustard. Pat with brown sugar. Baste with apple juice. Cook at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

soak figs, prunes and dried fruit in a good port while it cooks. Pour over ham and 1/2 hour more. Serve fruit and juice hot with ham.

Chicken Marbella

One of the recipes in The Silver Palate Cookbook published in 1981 was for Chicken Marbella, which was apparently the most popular dish at the Silver Palate. It ended up becoming a Shabbat dinner and Passover Seder staple throughout America.  While that may seem odd, it actually makes a good bit of sense. There’s a strong tradition of pairing fruit and meat in Jewish culinary history, and as a Jew Sheila Lukins was a part of this tradition.  Here is my riff on that recipe for a large group of people.

  • 4 chickens (2 1/2 pounds each), cut up
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1/4 cup of oregano
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup pitted prunes
  • 1/2 cup pitted Spanish olives
  • 1/2 cup capers
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup of good white wine

Marinate chicken with all but last three ingredients in the refrigerator overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Arrange in a single layer.  Sprinkle brown sugar, pour white wine around and bake for 50-60 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon transfer chicken, prunes, olives and capers to a platter.  Moisten with a few tablespoons of pan juices.  Sprinkle parsley over top.  Reduce pan juices and use as a gravy.

Mexican Shakshouka

Shakshouka typically is a simple and quick North African dish of eggs poached in a spicy stew of tomatoes and peppers.  Here is a riff of the classical dish with Mexican flavors.

  • 1 1/2 pounds sausage (Turkey sausage if you keep kosher)
  • butter
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 4-6 tomatoes, diced
  • salt, pepper, sugar to taste
  • cheese, typically cheddar
  • 8 eggs

brown sausage. Add peppers, onions and salsa.  Stir in tomatoes, salt, pepper and sugar to taste.  Place cheese slices on top to melt.  Break eggs over melted cheese.  Cover.

Passover Slow Cooked Brisket with Red Wine and Mustard

In honor of Passover I am offering the delectable version of brisket. To all of those of the Jewish faith Happy beginning of Passover. Of course this dish can be prepared anytime of year.  This version takes some time so plan ahead, it’s worth it.

  • Brisket (about 6 pounds)
  • Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 6 carrots sliced into 3 chunks each
  • 4 large quartered onions
  • 6 ribs celery with the greens in 2-inch chunks
  • 5 cloves smashed and peeled garlic
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 tablespoons grated horseradish
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • Mushrooms (optional)

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Season the brisket with salt and pepper, don’t skimp on seasonings. Add a few tablespoons of the olive oil to a braising pan. Warm the pan over medium heat, then sear the brisket on all sides, this takes some time.  When the brisket is mostly browned on all sides, remove it from the pan and set aside. Searing the brisket is really optional, but it is traditional.

There should be enough fat rendered in the pan, but if not add a few more tablespoons of oil. Add 3 of the carrots, the onions, celery, and garlic and sauté for a few minutes, stirring and sprinkling with more salt and pepper.

Stir together the wine vinegar, wine, honey, grated horseradish, and mustard in a bowl, then pour the liquid into the pan and deglaze, gently scraping up any stuck bits with a spoon (preferably wooden). Simmer for about3 minutes, until the sauce is slightly reduced.

Return the brisket to the pot and add enough beef broth to just cover the brisket. Add the bay leaves, thyme, and parsley and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and put in the oven for about 4 hours. At the end of the fourth hour, add the remaining carrots, and return to the oven for one more hour.

Remove from the oven and let sit until the brisket reaches room temperature.  Cut the brisket against the grain into slices about an quarter of an inch thick.

When ready to serve, remove the fat that has accumulated on top of the brisket. Heat the liquid in the pan and reduce by half, then strain out the vegetables if you want. Return the cut brisket to the pan, heat, ladle the carrots on top, pour the sauce over, and serve.

Small Batch Sausage Making 101

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Step 1: The Spices

Your spices consists of the ingredients you will be using to flavor your sausage. Toasting and grinding your own spices makes a difference you can taste. Avoid ready made spice kits.

Step 2: Cutting

Cut the meat into uniform cubes that are smaller than the opening of your grinder. Remove blood vessels, tendons, or glands. Place the meat in a bowl large enough to allow room for mixing

Step 3: Marinating

Evenly distribute half of the spices over the meat. Using your hands mix well until evenly coated. Add the second half of spices and mix again. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours to allow the seasonings to permeate the meat.

Step 4: Chilling

Chilling both your meat and parts of the grinder helps to avoid grinding issues. After cutting and marinating the meat, be sure to refrigerate it for at least 2 hours so it is thoroughly chilled.

Step 5: Grinding

Begin by assembling the grinder following manufacturers instructions. You will need a wide bowl or container that fits easily under the grinder to catch the ground meat. Feed the meat into the tube, one piece at a time. Let the machine do the work rather than pushing too much meat through the grinder at once.

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Step 6: Mixing

Seasoned, ground sausage meat should be mixed thoroughly by hand for 1 to 2 minutes. This action ensures that the seasonings are evenly distributed throughout.

Step 7: Tasting

Scoop up about 2 tablespoons of the well-mixed farce and shape into a small, flat patty. Cook the patty in a small pan over medium heat. Evaluate the taste and texture. If too dry add a small amount of ground fat. If the seasoning Is too weak, add more salt or spices. If too highly seasoned, add a small amount of unseasoned ground meat and ground fat. It is much easier to add salt and spices than it is to lessen their intensity.

Step 8: Stuffing (Optional)

Stuffing takes practice. Don’t be discouraged your first few batches . They will still taste great. Natural casings are the processed lamb, pork, and beef intestines used for casing sausage and salami. Before they can be used, they must be rinsed thoroughly in several changes of cold water. Once rinsed, they can be stored in water in the refrigerator for up to about 5 days.

Remove a length of soaked casing from the water.

Turn the crank so that the lid presses gently onto the top of the meat, forcing just ½ inch (12 mm) of the meat out through the nozzle. This helps to eliminate air pockets

Pull the end of the casing over the edge of the nozzle, then knot the end of the casing.

Place your thumb and forefinger around the end of the nozzle to regulate the movement of the casing.

Crank the handle slowly to press the sausage meat into the casing. Release more casing off the nozzle as the sausage flows through the tube.

If an air bubble forms, prick the sausage casing.

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Basic Sausage Recipes:

Poultry Or Rabbit

3¾ pounds (1.7 kg) boneless, skinless poultry or rabbit

+ 1¼ pound (567 g) pork back fat

+ 2 tablespoons (1.2 ounces/34 g) fine sea salt

Lamb

3 pounds (1.4 kg) boneless lamb shoulder

+ 2 pounds (900 g) lean boneless lamb foreshank or hind shank

+ 2 tablespoons (1.2 ounces/34 g) sea salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

______ or

2½ pounds (1.2 kg) boneless lamb shoulder

+ 2½ pounds (1.2 kg) boneless pork picnic

+ 2 tablespoons (1.2 ounces/34 g) sea salt

Pork

4½ pounds (2 kg) boneless pork picnic

+ 8 ounces (225 g) pork back fat

______ or

5 pounds (2.3 kg) boneless pork Boston butt

+ 2 tablespoons (1.2 ounces/34 g) fine sea salt

Beef

5 pounds (2.3 kg) untrimmed beef chuck or brisket

+ 2 tablespoons (1.2 ounces/34 g) sea salt

____ or

3 pounds (1.4 kg) untrimmed beef such as chuck or brisket

+ 2 pounds (900 g) pork Boston butt

+ 2 tablespoons (1.2 ounces/34 g) sea salt

Breakfast Sausage And Seasoning

Basic Sausage Recipe:

Pork

Spices:

1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground cayenne

⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 allspice berry, ground

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Grind:

Medium

Garnish:

½ cup (30 g) finely chopped fresh sage

Casing:

Lamb

Farmer’s Sausage And Seasoning

Basic Sausage Recipe:

Pork

Spices:

1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon toasted and ground aniseeds

1 teaspoon ground cayenne

Grind:

Medium

Garnish:

1½ cups (360 ml) dry red wine reduced to ½ cup (120 ml)

2 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Casing:

Pork

Fennel Sausage And Seasoning

Basic Sausage Recipe:

Pork

Spices:

2 tablespoons toasted and ground fennel seeds

1½ teaspoons freshly ground pepper

2 teaspoons ground dried oregano

4 teaspoons minced garlic

Grind:

Medium

Garnish:

½ cup (30 g) chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons whole fennel seeds, toasted

1 tablespoon chile flakes

¼ cup (60 ml) dry white wine

Casing:

Lamb

Spicy Italian Sausage And Seasoning

Basic Sausage Recipe:

Pork

Spices:

3 tablespoons toasted and ground fennel seeds

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

4 teaspoons ground chile flakes

1 tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon paprika

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Grind:

Medium

Garnish:

2 tablespoons dry white wine

Casing:

Pork

Sweet Italian Sausage And Seasoning

Basic Sausage Recipe:

Pork

Spices:

3 tablespoons toasted and ground fennel seeds

1½ teaspoons toasted and ground aniseeds

3 allspice berries, ground

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon ground dried oregano

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Grind:

Medium

Garnish:

½ cup (30 g) chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

¼ cup (60 ml) dry white wine

Casing:

Pork

Poultry Cut Profiles: Foie Gras

Description: Foie gras is the fattened liver of either duck or goose produced by a special feeding process. Foie gras is a luxurious product at once velvety and meaty.  Duck and goose foie gras have always been considered a rare delicacy and are usually reserved for special occasions.

Meat Characteristics: Foie gras is smooth and rich with a subtle and complex flavor. Goose liver is delicate and unctuous; duck liver is rich and earthy. Goose liver is best for terrines; duck liver is best for searing.

How much should I buy: Buy as much foie gras as you can afford; a typical portion weighs 2 to 4 ounces.

Common Flavor Combinations: Allspice, apples, bacon, balsamic vinegar, black pepper, cloves, cognac, figs, grapes, mangoes, nutmeg, pears, port wine, raisins, shallots, truffles, white truffle oil.

Lamb Cut Profile: Leg of Lamb

Description: Leg of lamb is the most versatile cut of lamb and makes a beautiful roast. A bone-in leg of lamb is the most economical; one with the aitchbone (hipbone) removed.  Boneless leg of lamb can be stuffed or spread with a seasoning paste and then rolled and tied. A boned, rolled, and tied or netted leg is easy to roast.

Meat Characteristics: Leg of lamb is generally tender, though it is made up of different muscles.

How much should I buy: For bone-in leg of lamb, allow about ¾ pound per person; for boneless leg of lamb allow about ½ pound per person.

Common Flavor Combinations: Capers, cardamom, dill, garlic, ginger, lemons, mint, red wine, rosemary, shallots, tarragon, thyme, yogurt.

Pork Cut Profile: Pork Belly

Description: Pork belly is a flavorful cut that is popular in Italian, French, Chinese and more and more in Southern cuisines. A hot commodity on the futures market, pork belly is very tasty but can also be fatty. It may be braised, turned into soft, rich shreds called rillettes, turned into confit or made into a terrine. It is the cut from which bacon and salt pork are prepared.

Meat Characteristics: Pork belly is a very fatty, tough, flavorful cut.

How much should I buy: A whole pork belly weighs about 18 pounds, a skinless pork belly weighs about 13 pounds.  Allow 4 to 8 ounces per person.

Common Flavor Combinations: Bay leaves, caraway, cilantro, cinnamon, cumin, fennel, garlic, leeks, paprika, sake, soy sauce, star anise.

Seasoning Meat for Greens

“TOO MANY PEOPLE THINK MEAT, often fried meat, sits at the center of the Southern plate. Maybe it does today, but historically we ate large pieces of meat once or twice a week. The rest of the time, cooks used “seasoning meat” as a condiment—a means to round out a vegetable-and-grain-focused meal. Seasoning meat is usually pork, but never a fancy cut. Instead, it is every nook, cranny, nugget, and bone salted, smoked, or ground into sausage to lend flavor to pots of anything you can boil.”

~ Vivian Howard

Air-Dried Sausage: The seasoning meat of choice in Eastern North Carolina.  The tang and funk is unforgettable.

Smoked Pig Tails: An often overlooked option.  These little morsels will give off a lot of flavor especially if you have them split it half.

Smoked Pig Trotters: That’s pig’s feet to most of us.  Have the butcher split them in half so they give up their fat and flavor.

Smoked Ham Hocks: This is the seasoning meat everyone thinks of when making collards or other greens.  That’s for good reason As hocks offer flavor, body, and good-size chunks of meat.  It takes a long Cooking time to coax the flavor and meat out of these, but it’s time we’ll spent.  Oh and then the potlikker.

Smoked Neck Bones: These nuggets do double duty as seasoning meat and centerpiece.  They have a almost obsessive following that loves to gnaw at the luscious bits of meat.

Belly Bacon or Jowl Bacon: Bacon is typically made from the belly, but their cousin jowl bacon is fattier and more flavorful.  Both are a cured and smoked meat that can either be rendered in the pot before water is added or simply added with the water.  You might consider rendering half of it and then adding the rest with the water for a more complex seasoning.

Fatback: It’s just what it sounds like the fat from the back of the pig.  If you’re going to use it as seasoning meat first cure it in salt and treat as you would bacon.  It can also be used to make lard, but not as coveted as leaf lard.

Pickled Pork: A staple of Creole and Cajun cooking that is often added to red beans and rice.  Usually made from Pork butt or pork belly.

Smoked Country Ham: If you have a limitless budget this is an option. It lacks fat for the most part and thus won’t add as much flavor. A better place for it is as the centerpiece of a meal, on a biscuit or with grits. It’s up to you though if you wish to experiment.