This is one of my favorite cold weather dishes. It's deceptively simple for the amount of flavor, complexity, and soothing warmth it packs. The first thing you will notice is that there is no cheese. Trust me, you won't miss it. I like a waxy yellow or red potato for this. It holds on to just enough bite during cooking to create a pleasing mouthfeel, with the tender potato contrasting with the creamy sauce. The anchovies add an almost imperceptible salty earthiness, that brings together and balances everything out. If you don't care for them, leave them out. But if you opt to use them, I promise you will be happy with the results.
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Garlic
Like most people, I never liked Brussels sprouts, because the only ones I had ever tried were processed, frozen, or otherwise subjected to some preparation that made them soggy and bitter. Fresh Brussels, prepared simply, are nothing short of amazing. Choose small, fresh looking, appropriately green sprouts, uniform in size, either on the stalk or not, that look natural (no brown or yellow), and feel heavy for their size.
2 pounds fresh Brussels sprouts
3 slices of bacon
3 cloves of garlic -- minced
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Trim the sprout ends, and remove any blemished exterior leaves, until you end up with something that is tight and bright green. Cut a small X into the base end of each. Blanch in salted water until tender crisp (3-8 minutes.) If they are inconsistent in size, drop the larger ones first and the smaller ones a couple of minutes later. Remove from the water and set aside. Chop the bacon into large pieces. Fry until crisp. Remove and set aside. Remove and reserve for another use, all but 2 tablespoon of the fat. Lower the heat, add the garlic and saute gently until fragrant. Halve the larger sprouts if necessary to make the pieces roughly equal in size. Add back to the garlic and fat. Saute, turning only as much as necessary for even cooking, until heated through, with nice caramelized spots. Add bacon, toss gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Salt conservatively, the blanching water and bacon should give you pretty much all that you need.
Marinated Roast Leg of Lamb
4 large garlic cloves
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
leaves from 1 sprig rosemary
1 tablespoon black peppercorns cracked
Mash with a mortar and pestle, or blitz in a food processor until the components are coarsely broken down and blended.
4-5 pound lamb leg
My recommendation is to use a boned or "butterflied" leg. They come prepackaged that way in most of the larger grocery chains, or if you are fortunate enough to actually have access to a butcher, it's a request that they would be accustomed to. They are easy to handle, eliminate messy carving, and are more economical as you don't have to buy more per serving to compensate for the weight of the bone.
Cover the meat with the marinade and refrigerate overnight. You can either roast the leg flat or roll it, as if the bone were still there, and tie it. The roll will give you more of a "roast' appearance, but it will also increase the cooking time. The flat will give you a more rustic presentation, which is also nice. In my opinion, one way is no better than the other, it's a matter of personal preference. Roast at 375 degrees until an instant read thermometer reads 125 degrees for medium rare. The roasting time will vary based on whether or not the roast is rolled. I would figure 10 minutes per pound for a flat piece, maybe 20 for a rolled roast, and start taking temps at that point. Remove from the oven, tent with foil, and allow it to rest while you make the reduction. The temperature will rise another 5-10 degrees during resting.
1 cup tawny port
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon black peppercorns whole
1 tablespoon butter
Place first three ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Adjust to keep at a simmer until reduced to about 1/3 the original volume. Finish with the butter right before service. Serve with the lamb.
Butter a 9x9 baking dish generously. Begin placing the potatoes in the dish, building layers. Mix the garlic and anchovies with a little cream. Season each layer with salt and pepper and a little of the anchovy garlic cream. Pour enough cream into dish to barely cover potatoes. Bake at 325 degrees for 60-90 minutes, until bubbly and nicely browned on top