In the LA Times food section last week was a pair of recipes for the fabled seven-hour lamb, on the same day that shank portions of leg went on sale at How's market. It was obviously meant to be! says I. Okay, there were a couple of things that bothered me about the recipes, but they were from ANNE WILLAN, for Pete's sake! So she wants me to start cooking raw meat in a pot full of cold water - surely she would not lead us astray?
I really need to listen to myself more often...
Just to review some basics: placing meat in cold water and then bringing it to a boil is what you do when you want good broth, not when you want good meat. Covering the meat with water, hot or cold, is not braising, it is stewing.
I also should have looked elsewhere: the recipe in "La Cuisine de France" by Mapie, France's equivalent to "Joy of Cooking", calls for the meat to be browned in the pot in oil, then you add a mere 4 1/2 cups of hot bouillon, braise four hours at 250, put in some vegetables and braise another three. James Beard, whose recipe (in "The New James Beard") is called "Spoon Lamb", has us roast a boned leg with the bones and veges for an hour, then put into a covered pot with some wine and braise six hours at 200.
So we had a somewhat disappointing dinner - we managed to pick out the meat from the fattier parts, which had stayed approximately succulent - and now I have a bunch of vegetables I'll have to eat myself, as Mrs. O can't stand turnips or cooked onion, and tonight I'll turn the rest into a shepherd's pie. Live'n'learn...
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