Sunday, October 10, 2010

Lamb with green beans and vinegar

I have made this dish before, a few times. I've never nailed it, although it has been delicious every time. Some times I have not had all shoulder, or it wasn't on the bone. Some times it has been too oily, or fatty, or I didn't have enough oil to brown the lamb, or the beans were not cooked enough.

Tonight it all came together.

First I got lamb still on the bone. As Marcella said to me on 22 June 2010:

"David, why all this anguish? I meant exactly I wrote, 3 pounds of lamb shoulder with its bones in, cut into pieces. Certainly we make stews with bones in, the meat attached to a bone has always been known to be the tastiest. Food is meant to be worked with and savored, not sipped through a straw. In reading your blog, I deduce that you are not browning the meat in hot enough oil. If you were, you wouldn't have to keep on replacing the oil. Bear in mind that I have cooked all of those dishes myself exactly as they are described. On your first try, follow the recipe literally without improvisations then make any changes you choose on subsequent efforts. I believe moreover, that you ought to be cooking a dish either from my directions or Giuliano's, not from a combination of both. I have no idea what "working a cracker" might mean. Is that Aussie talk? "

I got the butcher to cut it up. It wasn't in 2 inch chunks, but that didn't matter in the slightest. And I did follow the instructions to the letter. I measured the oil, which I normally wouldn't do, I even measured the onion (normally I take 1 onion to be about 1 cup). I browned the large chunks of meat well, seasoned it well, measured the vinegar out and didn't touch it for an hour and a half.

When I had a peak then the meat was tender but there was a bit too much liquid. I let it simmer off a bit, but didn't want it all to go as it is so precious.

It all worked. The meat was tender. The vinegar had transformed into a delicious sauce. The beans were cooked but still had some bite.

We used bread to mop up the juices and scraps of meat and beans. Marrow was sucked from the bone.

This is a stew Marcella says she is fond of in More Classic Italian Cooking published in 1978. Well, I am very fond of it now, some 32 years later. And so are my guests.

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