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Potato Gratin

Gratin potatoes are rich and creamy and so always welcomed at special occasion dinners. Don’t go overboard
with the nutmeg. As Chef Patrick O’Connell of The Inn at Little Washington likes to say, “If you can taste the
nutmeg, you’ve used too much.” Two things are important to know for preparing this: do not begin by slicing
all the potatoes at once and soaking them in water; they’ll lose their starch. Instead, slice and add them to the
cream one at a time. And you can’t make this dish ahead of time, because the butterfat will separate when you
reheat it.

D serves 6 to 8 E

1 clove garlic, halved crosswise


3 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
6 russet potatoes, peeled and placed whole in cold water

Prepare the cream mixture: Preheat the oven to back and forth from tine to time throughout the
325°F. Rub the inside of a 2-quart gratin dish with process. As soon as all the potatoes are added, turn
one of the garlic halves. Rub the inside of a large, the heat off and spoon the sliced potatoes into the
heavy slope-sided sauté pan with the other garlic prepared gratin dish, maintaining overlapping
half and add the cream, salt, and nutmeg; bring to slices as best you can. Pour any remaining cream
a boil over medium-high heat. over the potatoes.
Prepare the potatoes: Using a mandoline, Japanese Bake the gratin: Line a rimmed baking sheet with
slicer, or very sharp knife, slice 1 potato crosswise aluminum foil and place the gratin dish on top of
into 1/4-inch disks. Add those slices to the pan with it in case any cream boils over. Bake for 45 min-
the cream mixture, overlapping them like shingles. utes, until the gratin is golden brown and bubbling
This will help create a layered effect and keep and a sharp knife inserts easily into the center of
them from sticking together in stacks. Repeat with the potato slices. Serve hot.
the remaining 5 potatoes, gently shaking the pan

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From Da’s Garden

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Roast Leg of Lamb au Jus with Herb Pesto
When I was very young, we’d go to Nana’s house for Saint Patrick’s Day. Nana, my father’s mother, was a
very strong woman, the matriarch of the family. When I was ten years old, she took us to Dublin’s Phoenix
Park to see Pope John Paul II. We walked all the way from her house to center city, a good hour-and-a-half
walk. It seemed to me that all of Ireland was there, and it took all day to get there and back. As we were walk-
ing home exhausted that evening, I remember Nana turning to me and saying, “I’m so hungry, I could eat the
hind leg off the lamb of God.”
Lamb, except for less expensive cuts like shanks, shin bones, or neck meat, was a special occasion meat in
my family, reserved for days like Easter and Saint Patrick’s Day. One of the most vivid memories I have of
growing up is sitting at the oval table in my Nana’s living room with her and Granda, the eight of our family,
and anyone else lucky enough to have been invited for Sunday dinner’s leg of lamb.
Occasionally, I’ll be out somewhere and catch a whiff of a leg of lamb roasting, and it takes me back
instantly to my place at that table in another time. Too bad if I want to do anything about it, though;
Meshelle hates lamb. She never lets me make it at home, but lamb remains one of my preferred meats.
As Nana got older, Saint Patrick’s Day dinner shifted to our house. Mam would serve spring lamb
with peas because they were the first green vegetables to be seen at that time of year. My version of them
is “Marrowfat” Peas (page 172). There were always Roasted Potatoes (page 182), if not also Boiled New
Potatoes (page 178) and Mashed Potatoes (page 181). Other nice accompaniments for this dish would be
Glazed Baby Carrots (page 166) and Roasted Root Vegetable Purée (page 174).
D serves 8 to 10 E

1 (9-pound) bone-in leg of lamb, H-bone herb pesto 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
removed by your butcher / cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 2 leaves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 6 cloves garlic, crushed 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons kosher salt leaves (see Notes on Herbs, page 64)
1 cup fresh basil leaves 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup lamb demi-glace (page 244)

Roast the lamb: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place coarse purée forms. Add the thyme, rosemary, and
the leg fat side up in a flameproof roasting pan. salt and process briefly, until incorporated.
Rub it with the oil and season with the salt. Roast Add the pesto to the lamb: Transfer the lamb leg
for 1 1/2 hours, until a meat thermometer inserted to a cutting board and spread 4 tablespoons of
into thickest part of the lamb (but not touching the herb pesto over it. Cover the leg loosely with alu-
bone) registers 135°F for medium rare. minum foil and let it rest for 15 minutes.
Make the pesto: Meanwhile, place the oil and Make the jus: Meanwhile, skim and discard the fat
garlic in the bowl of a food processor or blender from the roasting pan. Add the demi-glace to the
and pulse briefly. Add the basil and process until a
{continued}

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Special Occasions

109
{Roast Leg of Lamb au Jus, continued}

pan and place over medium-high heat. Use a flat- wide, cutting at a 45° angle from both sides until
edged wooden spatula to scrape up all the brown you hit bone. Then cut thin slices from both sides
bits from the bottom of the pan. of the wedge. Once you’ve carved as much meat
Present the dish: Pour the jus into a small pitcher that way as you can, grasp the bone and stand it
or gravy boat. Spoon the remaining pesto into a on its end with one hand, using your other hand
small serving bowl. Transfer the lamb to a serving to cut slices off the leg. Spoon some jus over each
platter and carve it at table. At about the middle serving and place a little pesto on the side. Serve
of the leg, use a carving knife to cut a horizontal with your chosen side dishes.
wedge the width of the leg and about 2 inches

E
my irish table
110

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