This weekend I was really in the mood for a Sunday roast. As I often do, I thought "Wouldn't it be nice if we had a roast every Sunday for dinner as they used to do in the Good Old Days?" (You may think these never existed, but they did. My grandfather had home-made soup and roast and at least three vegetables every day of his marriage, over fifty years.) Unfortunately, I'm incurably lazy. Instead of mopping the floor, cooking a roast or finishing the tiling project in the guest toilet, the Critic and I went out and played snooker and grabbed some sushi on the way home.
But the impulse remained, and so tonight I made one of those dishes that approximates a roast without actually obliging you to slave over a hot stove for hours.
The first part of the meal came from an old favourite of Nigel Slater's recipes: Roast potatoes with thyme, sea salt and lemon juice. Here is the recipe:
1) Wash a bag of baby potatoes and dry them.
2) Drizzle a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over them
3) Sprinkle with fresh thyme and sea salt. (Actually, I use this salt, which costs about a euro here in Paris and a staggering seven dollars in Chicago. I should get in the import/export business!)
4) Place in a hot convection oven at 200c/400f for about half an hour, or until they are brown and soft. (It depends on the size of the potatoes, obviously!)
Here is a picture of them before going into the oven. (For the after picture, see above.)
The next dish involved lamb. I used to think I disliked lamb, mainly because I was being fed mutton and told it was lamb. At least, that is my theory. Now I love lamb and can't make it often enough. (Literally: the Critic is convinced he doesn't like lamb because he, too, grew up being told the mutton he was eating was lamb. When I make it he likes it, but he will never admit he would like me to make lamb.) I didn't follow a specific Nigel recipe for this one, but as you will see I was inspired by him.
Lamb Cutlets à la Nigel Slater
2 big lamb cutlets (I get the ones without bones as one of us is fussy)
1 big fat clove of garlic, sliced
3/4 cup red wine
2 Tbs chopped fresh rosemary
salt and pepper
for the gravy
1 Tbs flour
3-4 Tbs water (as needed)
more salt and pepper
1 rounded tsp Caesar salad dressing, home-made
Marinate the lamb cutlets in the rest of the ingredients while you are starting the potatoes. When the potatoes are about 15-20 minutes from being done, put 1 Tbs olive oil and a little pat of butter in a frying pan and turn the heat up fairly high. When they start to froth, swish the pan to mix and slap the lamb cutlets into the pan. Turn up the heat to sear the meat. (Don't worry about the brown bits that will form on the bottom of the pan - they will improve the gravy.) When the first side is brown, flip over. Cook until the inside is pink inside, but not red (about fifteen minutes for cutlets about an inch/2.5 cm thick).
Remove to a platter and cover with foil. (This is the first time I have done this - usually I would just put in the oven uncovered to stay warm. But if a roast can rest why can't a steak? I don't know if it was the resting period or not, but the meat stayed moist and tender.)
Sprinkle the flour in the bottom of the frying pan and brown a few minutes. Add the marinade from the lamb and stir like crazy, scraping up all the brown bits from the bottom and sides of the pan. Add water as necessary to keep a good consistency. And then came my stroke of genius (if I may say so): remembering Nigel's recipe for lamb which called for putting anchovies in the gravy, and lamenting the fact that I was out of anchovies...I thought of the Caesar salad dressing in the fridge. Is there anything in the dressing I don't like? Answer: no. Is there anything that would taste bad with lamb? Answer: no. I tasted the gravy and before and after adding the dressing and I can tell you it was miles better afterwards, heavenly. It's a shame that a picture of meat with gravy never ever looks as good as it smells. Maybe I should have sprinkled some parsley on top to convince you.
Serve the above two items with fat slices of ripe tomatoes that you have sprinkled with a little salt and pepper and parsley. (I always try to have a nod towards healthy food somewhere in the meal.)
And there you have it: Sunday Roast Dinner on Monday and made in a little over half an hour.