We are born knowing how to roast


Part of the crowd from Saturday’s party:  Chris, Ann, Paula, Sandy, Becky – other pictures appear throughout the blog

Monday:          Leftovers (pork chops and sausage in sauerkraut) with a Caesar salad.

Beet salad.jpg

Tuesday:         Beets Smashed and Seared with Chimichurri and Goat Cheese Crema


Wednesday:    Roasted Shoulder of Lamb with Smashed Vegetables and Greens


Thursday:        (Home-made, fresh) Pasta with fresh tomato sauce and anchovies


Friday:             Red Snapper in Yellow Pepper Sauce


Nancy with Paul who is having trouble moving beyond the Christmas Season

Saturday:         Dunnings Holiday Party


Hilda, Tom and Beez

Sunday:           Leftovers / Guacamole


Patsy, Dave and Gene

Tim and Gene.JPG

Tim and Gene

Barbara and Katie.jpg

Barbara and Katie

There is a notorious difficult passage from The Physiology of Taste which I would translate:

“We must learn to cook, but we are born knowing how to roast” – Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

I have always thought that this implies (1) that little boys and girls like to start fires and (2) that you don’t need me or anyone else to tell you how to roast.  That sounds about right.  But if you wouldn’t mind a little suggestion about what to roast, please sit down, stop being so huffy and French, and listen.

We had another full week of activities and I could see, with one of highlights of the year (the Dunnings Holiday Party)* coming up, to be followed by massive leftovers from the catering, that I’d have to get to work early this week roasting.  As it turned out, Whole Foods had lamb shoulder on sale, and I was rooting around in a cookbook I haven’t used for a while, Jamie Oliver’s, and remembering what a madman Oliver is, roasting over fires built in the woods behind his home, ‘whacking’ nice ‘knobs of butter’ into vegetable mixtures, cooking potatoes he’s just pulled out of the ground or eating peppers just pulled from their plants.  And, not really a surprise, I found that he had a recipe for roast lamb shoulder with smashed (sic) vegetables.  (Oliver cannot write a recipe without his characteristic enthusiasm thrusting into it.)

Take my word for it – this recipe, which produces a sort of pulled-lamb (think pulled-park) falling-off-the-bone unctuousness will please anybody, including those timid souls who imagine that they don’t like lamb.  And the smashed vegetables alone, will satisfy the plain palate, but with a twist – the rutabaga – that will teach that palate something new about how delicious a simple root vegetable can be.

The dish is also a tribute to the method – roasting – and how delicious a little fire and a little patience can render even a tough customer like lamb shoulder.

  • Note: It is impossible to remember all of the wonderful appetizers and desserts brought by our friends.  It was all outstanding, from Becky’s guacamole and Dave’s stuffed peppers, through the O’Sullivan’s champagne, to Nancy’s chocolate macaroons and Paula’s truly astonishing Pavlova.  I apologize for leaving out anybody’s contribution – but I was drinking and laughing and having too much fun with friends to pay close attention to the food.
  • You will note – see above – that we cooked our first home-made pasta this week. There is a softness  and chew to fresh pasta, that is unlike the dried stuff.  It is more filling and it cooks in 3-4 minutes.  I’m addicted.
  • You might also note the beet salad – it was the best meal of the week and we will be writing about it soon.


(From Jamie Oliver, “Jamie at Home”)

Total time for this recipe is about 5 hours.  It is not difficult, but does require some planning.  The lamb needs about 4 hours of continuous cooking.  About 30 minutes or so before the lamb is finished, you’ll cook and smash the vegetables.  And just before serving you’ll create a sauce with the pan juices and boil the greens.

For the lamb:

Ingredients:                                       Serves 6

1 (2 lb.+) Shoulder of Lamb (bone in)
1 bulb garlic, unpeeled, broken into cloves
1 large bunch of rosemary
Olive Oil


Preheat your oven to 450 F (or more, if you know that your oven burns cooler)

Slash the fat side of the lamb all over with a sharp knife.

Lay half of the rosemary and half of the garlic cloves on the bottom of a high-sided roasting pan.

Rub the lamb all over with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, then place it in the pan on tope of the rosemary and garlic and lay the rest of the rosemary and garlic on top of the lamb.

Tightly cover the roast pan and lamb with aluminum foil and place in the oven.

Immediately turn the oven down to 325 (again – adjust for your oven’s calibration) and cook for 4 (four) hours!  It is done when you can pull the meat apart easily.

Meanwhile, par-cook and prep for final cooking:



1.5 pounds of peeled potatoes cut into large chunks
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into small chunks
½ large or 1 small rutabaga, peeled and cut into small chunks
6 Tablespoons butter (no fair, skimping here)

Put the vegetables into a large pot of boiling and heavily salted water and boil hard for 20 minutes (until you can slide a knife into the rutabaga easily.)  Drain the vegetables and toss them back into the pot to steam dry while you smash them up with about 4 ½ tablespoons of the butter.  Season, then cover with foil to keep warm.



1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 cups hot chicken or vegetable stock (we used, and I would recommend chicken, unless you make your own vegetable stock)
2 tablespoons of capers, soaked, drained and chopped
Large bunch of mint, leaves picked.  (I prefer parsley here, the mint available in many markets can be have a harsh, bitter taste.)
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar

Cook the Sauce:

At this point, having removed the lamb from the pan and handled as noted above, put on a pot to boil water for the greens and pour off most of the fat from the roasting pan, removing any bits of rosemary.  Put the pan on the stovetop over medium heat and mix in the flour until cooked.  Add the stock, deglazing.  Add the capers, turn the heat down and simmer for a few minutes, then at the last second toss in the parsley or mint and mix in the vinegar and pour into a gravy pitcher.



1 lb. or so of greens – I’d suggest kale or chard, in which case tear the leaf into bite-sized pieces and chop the stems into a nice dice.  Jamie suggests white or savoy cabbage.

Toss the greens into the boiling water for 4 – 5 minutes to soften.  We used red kale and it didn’t take 3 minutes.  Drain and toss with the remaining ‘knob’ of butter and season.

Put the mash, the greens and the lamb in the center of the table or on the sideboard and serve.  As Jamie would say, “brilliant.”

4 thoughts on “We are born knowing how to roast

  1. Caroline, thanks for the recipe – we will try it.
    Dick – intend to learn mucho about tacos in Mexico with you guys soon
    Ann – you need to tell more people about your silent retreat experience. I haven’t laughed so hard ever about retreats.

  2. When are we going to see photos of some tacos, beans, and guacamole?

    On Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 5:50 PM, whatwecookedlastweek wrote:

    > Bill Stewart posted: ” Monday: Leftovers (pork chops and sausage > in sauerkraut) with a Caesar salad. Tuesday: Beets Smashed and > Seared with Chimichurri and Goat Cheese Crema Wednesday: Roasted > Shoulder of Lamb with Smashed Vegetables and Greens Thursday” >

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