Thursday, April 30, 2015

stuffed sheep's leg

Stuffed sheep's leg

Page 170 book 2 recipe # 69 To braise a stuffed leg of whether whole

Get a leg of the good sort described above and beat it with a bat until it separates from  the bone in the middle of it, then carefully draw out that bone which is the hollow bone, leaving the knee pad there. Along with the bone remove some of the flesh and beat that with an equivalent amount of pork fat, marbled prosciutto and garlic cloves, adding in pepper, cinnamon, beaten herbs and a few raisins and saffron. Turn the leg inside out and slash the inner flesh here and there, being careful not to cut through to the skin. Splash the flesh with rose vinegar and sprinkle on pepper, sugar and cinnamon.Then turn right side out again and stuff it with the mixture, sew it up with cord, and put it into a stewing pot which has beaten pork fat in it and enough meat broth to cover the leg; add in verjuice, common spices, and prunes and dried visciola cherries. Seal the post so that it cannot breath, and set it to cook over a low fire for two hours. When it is done, serve it hot with the cord removed and that broth over it.
If you want to spit -roast it,  when it is stuffed half-cook it by boiling, take it out, let it cool lard it with very small bits of pork fat, and mount it on a spit. Cook it as you do roasts. You can also cook it in an oven, after it is full of the same mixture used to stuff it when stewing it, putting in less broth. You can also put it raw on the spit.

What we did:
I purchased a leg of sheep (I asked for whether but the lady said lamb when I picked it up, so I am not sure which one I actually got) It was roughly 2 kg with the bone in.
I placed it in a large ziploc bag and  beat it with a "bat" (my french pin) for about 20 min. I could have beaten it  longer and next time I need to  pay closer attention to the ends. Much of the tissue did disconnect from the bone  but for speed we used a knife to cut it the rest of the way off the bone. It easily turned itself inside out while removing the bone.
Trim off piece that can not be stuffed , about 4 inches of the top, this is the piece you will grind up to use as stuffing. Do not throw away the bone, use it to make the stock.

Cut the "extra" meat into 1" pieces and slightly freeze to make it easier to mince (grind or use a food processor).
Turn the leg inside out, I sprinkled my leg with branntweinessig and rose water, then lightly sprinkled it with pepper, cinnamon and sugar.
For the stuffing I used what I had on hand: Next time use:
2 1/2 tsp pepper                    2 Tbsp
50 gm 8 herb mix (frozen but thawed) 150 gm
380 gm meat (cut from the top of the leg, skin removed)
240 gm fat   (beef fat)
1 tsp cinnamon            2 tsp
20 gm of raisins
1/2 head of garlic                    1 head
200 gm schwarzwald ham

Notice there is no salt, I boiled the bone in a pot of salted water and the ham provided more than enough salt for the dish. This made more than enough to stuff it well! So well I couldn't even think of sewing it shut and so just tied it with string to help keep the stuffing in.
I used my enameled cast iron dutch oven in the oven. But first heated it up and seared the outside of it on my stove, added the broth to half cover and covered and placed in my oven. I had pre heated it to 200c and forgot to turn it down, so there it cooked for 2 hrs undisturbed and then sat covered for 20 min - 1/2 hr before I sliced it. It was very tasty!!!

Notes and next time:
The taste was great! though next time we will boost the herbs, garlic and spices some :) The meat was just on the edge of dry but not quite there. I will reduce the temp and the cooking time down to about 170c for 1hr 30min - 1hr 45 min, sheep can have a little pink. I am looking forward to making this again!

Post event and "again" notes:

The upping of the spices was perfect for me but maybe scale back a little on the Garlic to 3/4 of a head. Depends on how large the heads are, how much you like garlic and how pungent they are.

The fat used should be equal to the "extra meat" that is cut off to be used to stuff the leg. You can even go a bit over though I wouldn't go too much.

Lower temperature and a shorter cook time did the trick and it was still tender and moist!

A bug hit many people talked about.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

It is done...

All the build up... all the planning... and the hustle and bustle ... and it is done

KWDS 11 was a fantastic event, smooth running and pleasant. While I spent most of my time in or around the kitchen I did get out to see some of the dancing, particularly the Masque. It was lovely and from the sounds everyone was making it was really enjoyed by all.

My concern though, was the food and the kitchen and what I have to say on that and that is "I dropped the ball, and it bounced!"

The food was good, filling and in most cases enough to more than enough.

I am going to use this space to talk through my problems first and then get on with the good stuff. Recipes will come in follow up posts.

We had our first hiccough with the first dinner some chicken legs were missed in the confusion that was the walk in and so in the end I think a few people went without. So what did we do... thinking we had cooked them all? Bought extra the next day for dinner... yup, we had those leftover too :/

Peas, mushrooms and pears, oh my!

First with not enough mushrooms and then too much. Part of it was calculation and part of it was shopping error. The trouble was not finding enough and then the pie tins I had were smaller than average, so we had leftover filling for pies. Which people gladly enough ate. We were a little light on the mushrooms and leaks as a side dish though but were trying to conserve for the pies. We also sent a non kitchen member out for mushrooms without giving a specific amount to purchase and so we had leftover mushrooms.

Peas, I really have no clue. We ended up buying peas in 3 different stores and I think we really needed only to buy them at two. I believe that after one of the purchases they did not get marked off the list and so extra ended up being bought.

Pears, I never want to see a pear again! OK maybe just not for a bit. Both composts contained pears and we had a pear dessert. They need to make a gadget for peeling and coring pears! Mostly my complaint on pears is that we had to work with tons of them, and I cut my finger.

Pies, If I ever want to do more than 1 pie or more than 1 recipe that has paste per day again... SLAP ME! Seriously, I know they have an awesome oven but someone just beat me if I ever get that bright idea again!

Not everyone will show up for every meal! This includes feast! This was sort of a surprise.

Scaling up pudding is not something you should do! I think I may have discovered a problem with the recipe as well but that will require some investigation.

Now the elephant in the room and where I feel I dropped the ball. My health is not something i particularly talk about a lot, at least not outside of private conversation but I am going to talk about it now. I am about to turn 41, I am overweight and I have chronic pain issues. None of these things were a factor in the dropping of the ball. A few years back when my mom died it threw my body into "shock". Traumatic events can trigger (especially in women) hormonal changes. Well, I was hit with a change I wasn't prepared for, I was hit with the beginning stage of "the CHANGE", perimenopause. This affects my body in many ways most of which are not anything I will discuss here. I will discuss here the mental change that has happened.

I have dealt with depression all my life, my own and my mother's. What I only had an outsiders view of until now was anxiety. It seems one of the common effects of perimenopause is anxiety. This is what hit me like a ton of bricks. Had it been about the food, the feast or the general state of the kitchen I would have understood, I could have dealt better but it wasn't. I had confidence in my crew, in the kitchen and we were progressing really well! This was different, a closed feeling like I was continually being squeezed by some sort of constrictor I could see. Clothes that fit fine felt too tight, I felt like I couldn't breathe and worst of all I couldn't function.

It took a bit to put my finger on what was going on, at first it seemed I was just suffering from exhaustion. I hadn't slept well the night before due to not being able to get comfortable with what I thought at the time was a sinus issue. So I woke up tired and slow going but we got out and to the store and back in good time. I started to eat my breakfast and that is when the tightening started. No feeling of dread or panic but just a tightening. Due to circumstances shortly after this began I broke down and thanks to good friends I was able to get dressed and try to move on. I took a seat outside the kitchen and did only what they would let me. I spent my day in conversation as I had most of the day before, but to me I was dropping the ball. It was the BIG day and I should have been more helpful, I should have been doing more, I should not have been sick, and this is when the ball bounced. The kitchen staff took over and I was only there as a consult. I don't even remember cutting or chopping or peeling or anything, and like a well oiled machine it moved on. Everything was on time, everything was going smooth. It bounced!

The food was good tasting and what was supposed to be hot was hot, what was supposed to be cold was cold. Service was on time and friendly :) Ideas were exchanged and a lot of love as well.

A week and 2 days later I can look back at the bouncing ball and not say "I did that" but WE did that. I could not have done it without the awesome team I had and maybe partially they couldn't have done it without me, but I am pretty sure they could have because they did.

Friday, April 3, 2015

I can't art

It's true, I can't art.

I can not draw, paint, sew, sing, play an instrument or compose. I can not create anything that has a lasting beauty or value. What I can do is cook, redact and feed. I hope that what I do is seen as, making memories, creating atmosphere and nourishing the soul as well as the body. I create food and meals to try and enhance what is already around us, a beautiful hall, good company and immersion into another place and time. My hope is to supply those that are truly in the moment an opportunity to stay there, not to be jarred out of it by the mundane. It is a fine line where modern meets medieval and once the veil has been lifted it is hard to close the curtain again.

Often enough in the places discussions about my hobby takes place I have often heard how people want a good atmosphere. They encourage you to cover modern object, elevate clothing to beyond "ren faire" adequate, play period games and music but when it comes to food, they don't care and some are even against authentic (well as authentic as we can get) foods and recipes. Labeling them as yucky or weird before even giving them a chance. I plug away though endeavoring to make foods that are palatable even to the picky.

I can't art, it's true.