|Preparation for meal|
Recently I read one of Michael Pollan's books, In Defense of Food, which criticizes how we in the West treat our food. His polemic is directed toward the very way food is produced; how we treat the animals that we consume, how we grow our vegetables, how the produce is handled, which chemicals are mingled with it, and last but not least, how and where we eat food. It is a very interesting and thought provoking read - it is much in the vein of his The Omnivore's Dilemma that I read last summer and is also considerable food for thought. We discuss these issues a lot in our household. My daughter, Valdís, who is 11 years old, is greatly interested in cooking and the way in which we treat our animals. We watched the film Food Inc together in few installments and have been pondering how things develop in the world of food - from seed to french fry. From egg to roasted chicken. There is a lot of discussion which surrounds the butchering of animals - how vegetables are grown on the other hand awakens fewer questions - but maybe they will arise in due time.
One of the things he mentions in the introduction of the book - in the Manifesto - hits the mark with me; you are supposed to eat food! Pollan also argues that you should of course watch how much you eat and that you should also place a rich emphasis on eating vegetables. I have to admit that sometimes I have troubles controlling the amount of food I eat, but I think that real food is served on my table - cooked from scratch and made from quality ingredients - and loads of vegetables. What Mr. Pollan has in mind when he speaks of real food really boils down to real produce, real ingredients, not some additive infested food that contains chemicals that no one understand and only god knows what look like! It is very interesting to observe the growth of the discourse surrounding food in Iceland; the increased call for organic produce and a general awakening concerning how chickens and pigs are "produced".
|Getting all into the pot!|
Alright, lets move on to the recipe of the day. It's as real as it gets! Real Icelandic leg of lamb, which one can nearly be consider as wild game as it roams the Icelandic tundra undisturbed for a large part of the year. Being let out into the mountains in early spring to be caught again and taken back to its farm.
On page 162 in Stéphane Reynaud's 365 Good Reasons to Sit Down to Eat, can be found a wonderful recipe, namely, the seven hour leg of lamb! I own a few books by this French chef; Rotis and Ripalles, both of which are tremendously appetizing books, but my favorite has to be Pork & Sons - devoted solely to pork. A great cook book!
Lovely 7 Hour Leg of Lamb with Proper Sauce and Oozing Cheese Gratin.
|Rub with plenty of salt&pepper|
|Slice down the potatoes|
After five and half hours it is time to consider the gratin. Peel a few potatoes, slice them thinly, and layer into an ovenproof dish which has been brushed with garlic oil. In between layers you scatter strong cheese, maybe a bit of cheddar, possibly blue cheese. When you have enough layers, pour cream over the lot, add a rich dose of salt and pepper, and then of course top with grated cheese, like cheddar or Edam, or any cheese that easily melts.
|Cheese - anyone not loving Brie?|
When the lamb is ready, let it rest for a few minutes while the sauce is prepared. Pour the broth through a sieve and allow to stand a cool down for a minute or two. The fat will rise to the surface which can then be easily removed. Next i made roux in a pot, 30 gr of butter, equal amount of flour. First you melt the butter and then you dust in the flour and it cooked for a few minutes as to minimize the flavor of the flour (it is good to remember that the longer you cook the roux the less it will work to thicken your sauce). When the roux is ready, pour the broth carefully into the pot - and stir vigorously. Nothing remains but to balance the sauce; a splash of cream, salt, pepper, and perhaps a nip of jam.
|The lamb was put on a serving platter|
Awaken the lamb from its stoic rest by sliding it under a piping hot grill for a few moments - so it will be crispy and appealing on the outside.
We drank the following delicious red wine with the meal: 2007 Peter Lehmann Futures Shiraz. I have been a fan of the wine from this producer for quite some time. I am still working my way through the wine we bought on our way back from Austria, where we acquired a number of bottles of this fine wine. Dark color, even thick. Aroma of plums, oak. Invigorating taste, dark fruit and oaky wine with a satisfying aftertaste.
I encourage you all to try out this recipe. It is a meal of superlatives - the flavor of the lamb is glorious - and the meat completely melts in your mouth. An unforgettable meal!
|The meat was so succulent and tender that it fell off the bone!|