Last week, we acquired a new (“used” would be more accurate) kitchen appliance, a vintage Farberware open-hearth grill and rotisserie. Actually it is a replacement for the one I had in storage, which hurricane Sandy “washed” away a while back. I came across this one on e-bay while I was searching for something totally unrelated to cooking, which made me feel that fate brought us together.
The fact that this rotisserie cooks a hefty roast or whole chicken without any smoke and a minimum amount of heat and is easy to clean and store makes it perfect for a NYC-apartment kitchen, where smoke alarms are overly sensitive and space is at a premium.
The first food I cooked on this one is the same that I made on my last one: a roast boneless leg of lamb. Because I wasn’t sure if this used appliance would work, we didn’t take any photos of the lamb and its preparation until its final minutes of cooking. But after a little more than an hour of steadily turning over the glowing cooking element, the roast was a thing of beauty.
Lamb on the rotisserie
The recipe I used is by Joshua Bousel on Seriouseats.com and is relatively simple. That it uses only a marinade to flavor and baste the meat, as opposed to making holes in the meat for stuffing it with herbs and garlic, keeps the leg juicer during cooking on the spit. Basting it every fifteen minutes with some reserved marinade and a brush made from fresh herbs also helps. While the original recipe is for an outdoor gas grill/rotisserie, I adapted it for my indoor one.
Because we had plenty of meat left over from this 4.5-pound roast, I turned to one of my older cookbooks for a recipe. Published in 1967, a time when America seemed to rediscover serious cooking, Michael Field’s Culinary Classics and Improvisations is a collection of classic recipes for meats, poultry, fish, and vegetables, each of which is followed by a variety of improvisations for the leftovers from the classic dish. Many of these improvisations, like the one I chose for my leftover lamb, reflect America’s fascination at that time with international cuisine. Today, however, many may question these recipes’ authenticity or their ethnic accuracy. Yet one must remember that when Field wrote his book, a lot of the imported ingredients and spices we readily find today, not only in gourmet shops but even in supermarkets, were not widely available.
Field titled this improvisation for leftover roasted lamb, “Lamb in a Skillet with Fresh Tomatoes, Scallions, and Parsley in the Turkish Style.” I must confess that I cannot explain what is Turkish about this dish. Nonetheless, it has long been one of my favorites for repurposing a leftover roast.
In his recipe, Field calls for peeled, seeded, and cut tomatoes and provides instructions for peeling. However, while I cut and seeded the tomatoes as directed, I opted to skip the peeling.
Lamb in a Skillet with Fresh Tomatoes, Scallions, and Parsley in the Turkish Style (from Michael Field’s Culinary Classics and Improvisations)
2 cups roast leg of lamb cut into ¾- to 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut into julienne strips 1 inch by ½ inch
½ cup scallions, cut into paper-thin rounds (include some of the green stem also)
½ cup parsley (flat-leaf is possible), coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon lemon peel, grated
Combine in a small bowl the pieces of lamb, the chopped garlic, salt to taste, and the freshly ground pepper. Mix together thoroughly.
The seasoned lamb
Choose a 10-inch traditional sauté pan or any deep heavy frying pan attractive enough to bring to the table.
Heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil in the pan until it almost begins to smoke. Add the seasoned lamb and, over high heat, brown the pieces quickly, turning them with a large spoon or spatula for about 8 minutes, taking care not to let them burn.
The browned lamb
Toss in the tomato strips* and, stirring continuously, cook them for about 3 minutes with the lamb; they should be barely cooked through and should retain more than a hint of their original texture and freshness.
Lamb with tomatoes
With a spatula, push the meat and tomatoes toward the center of pan and surround them with the scallions and parsley, arranged in a ring. Sprinkle meat with the lemon peel and cover the pan tightly.
After adding the parsley, scallions, and lemon zest
Turn off the heat and let the residual heat in the pan warm the herbs through. Serve directly from the pan after about 5 minutes.
The finished dish
Lemon quarters are the perfect accompaniment to the lamb and French or Italian bread should be served to sop up the tomato and herb-flavored olive oil.
*Note: To prepare the tomatoes, drop them into boiling water for about ten minutes. Peel them at once and cut them into quarters. Run a small sharp knife under the pulp of each quarter and cut it away, leaving the thin outer shell of the tomato. Cut the shells into julienne strips and use the tomato pulp for other purposes.
As I said earlier, I skipped the blanching and peeling of the tomatoes to preserve their texture. I also added a bit of cumin to the initial seasoning of the lamb and, as may be seen in the photos, took some liberties with measuring the ingredients. Finally, rather than serving bread, I opted for basmati rice to sop up the delicious sauce.
Field’s book is out of print, but can be found used here on Amazon: Michael Field’s Culinary Classics and Improvisations, Creative Leftovers Made From Main Course Masterpieces, 1967.
Wine Pairing: A cru Beaujolais, Pinot Noir