Dangerspouse Rides Again

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Nov. 27, 2013 - 2:33 p.m.

Sacrificial Lamb

Three or four years ago there was a big sale on whole legs of lamb at my local grocery store.

"Honey!" I said. "There are whole legs of lamb on sale at the grocery store!"

"That's great" said NewWifey(tm). "Go pick one up."

"I'll pick TWO up" I said. "I'll roast one, and there'll be plenty left over for sandwiches. The other I can cut into chunks and have fun playing with various recipes. And those bones will make tons of stock. Mmmmm, lamb and barley soup...."

"Great. Go get some."

So I did. I purchased the two biggest legs of lamb they had in the store and lugged them home caveman style, one over each shoulder.

I set one of the legs in the oven as soon as I got home. The other I de-boned, cut into portions, and stowed in the fridge for future fun.

When the roast was done I set it out to rest and prepped some veggies. I set a nice table, opened a bottle of wine, and called NewWifey(tm).

That's when I found out that NewWifey(tm) doesn't like lamb.

"What's this?" she said.

"Um...it's lamb."

"I hate lamb."

"You hate lamb? But...but...you told me to get some when I told you it was on sale!"

"Yeah, so YOU could eat it" she said. "I can't stand lamb. Nasty, greasy stuff. Blech. I'll just have the potatoes."

And she sat down and ate potatoes. And wine. Lots and lots of wine.

That was fine with me. I love lamb. I was secretly kinda begrudging the fact I was gonna have to share it with her anyway. I ate the entire leg over the course of three days, then turned the other portions into lamb biryani, Hunan lamb, lamb stuffed with apricots and pine nuts, and a galvanized steel tub of lamb soup, all of which carried me through another week. After which I wanted more lamb.

I loooooove lamb.

So I was overjoyed when earlier this week while picking up Thanksgiving provisions I saw they had whole legs of lamb marked down sharply for a 1-day sale. I rooted through the pile for the biggest one and lugged it home next to the turkey.

NewWifey(tm) was off visiting a friend, so I had the kitchen to myself when I got back. I decided just to simply roast the leg, because when all is said and done that is still my favorite preparation. I follow the old Galloping Gourmet method: low oven (300), with the leg right on the oven rack. No roasting pan, although you can set a pan on a lower rack - with or without veggies - to catch any drippings. You just salt and pepper the leg, insert some garlic slivers into slits if you want, dust the whole thing with some flour, and off you go. That is, by far, the best way I know to make a perfect, foolproof leg of lamb. Far better than the restaurant method I used to use where you start at a high temperature, then drop it down after a little while to finish. Slow and even makes a juicier, lamb-ier product.

After I put the lamb in the oven I headed back out again. I'd ordered winter tires for Stanley the Mighty WRX from TireRack.com and they were just delivered to my local shop. I had to get out there to have them mounted before the predicted ice tsunami descended on us. Since the lamb needed to roast for longer than I'd be away I figured I'd be safe. Off I went.

My local shop is awesome, but there was a bit of a wait when I got there because a lot of other losers like me had the exact same idea. So for about an hour I had to wait in one of those plastic waiting room chairs, thumbing through 2 year old issues of "Bow Hunter" magazines, until they called my name. No problem. Still lots of time to spare. The trip home took about 20 minutes. Plenty of cushion.

When I pulled into the driveway I saw NewWifey(tm) standing on the porch holding what looked like a black tennis racquet. There was smoke billowing out of the door behind her.

"Honey!" I said. "What's going on?!"

"Did you put some kind of roast in the oven?"

"Yeah. They had sale on lamb at Price Chopper and I picked one up. I threw it in the oven while I went to go get my tires change. Don't tell me it over-cooked in the time I was gone!"

"No" she said. "It didn't. But when I came home I thought I'd clean the oven so it would be ready for the Thanksgiving turkey. I put it on Automatic Clean, and 20 minutes later the entire house was filled with greasy smoke and I found THIS" and she waved the tennis racquet at me "inside the oven. AND IT WASN'T EVEN IN A PAN. The whole inside of the oven is now covered in black tar, and it stinks like a slaughterhouse in there!"

Hoo boy.

A whole leg of lamb. Ruined!


"Didn't you smell the lamb cooking when you came in? Didn't you check the oven before you turned it to 'Clean'?. I said.

"It ALWAYS smells like weird food in our house!" she yelled. "You and your stupid cooking "experiments" - I thought is was still the lingering stench of that mostrocity you made last night with the cod and the peanut butter and the Thai chilis. And no, I didn't check the oven. I was in too much of a rush because I have to clean the stupid house and do all the stupid cooking before your father arrives because your stupid work rescinded your time off and you're not going to be here to help me!"

I decided to cut my losses. That black tennis racquet looked like it could be swung at my head at any moment.

"Easy there, baby" I said. "I'll take care of the oven. It'll be sparkling and stench free before you know it. Just get down another bottle of Fabreze -" - we buy it by the case - "and I'll take it from here. You go have a drink or a bath or something and calm down."

It worked. She threw the carbonized leg down the side of the ramp into the flower garden and stomped back inside. I decided to leave it there for the bears...after only briefly considering scraping it off and trying to salvage some for myself.

Inside I scrubbed and scraped and sweated profusely for about an hour with my head and arms swivelling around the coal black interior of my oven, but I finally did get it clean. Then I ran the Auto Clean cycle, and this time - with no animal products sitting on a rack in the middle of the thing - it worked just fine. Opening all the windows, running all the fans, and emptying all the bottle of deodorizer helped the rest of the house, and by the time NewWifey(tm) emerged from the bath - and a bottle - you could hardly tell that I'd made anything more innocuous than a bowl of Cheerios.

"Check this out" I said, waving my arm around the kitchen. "Looks pretty good, huh?"

She looked around. She checked the oven, inside and out, and then sniffed around the house.

"I guess it's alright. Nice job. I didn't think you could pull it off that fast."

"I'm an old hand at burning stuff" I said. "Remind me to tell you some day about the time I accidentally dropped a 20 pound sack of sugar into a deep fryer."

She laughed and gave me a peck on the cheek.

"So you're not mad any more, right? I mean, we're all cool now?"

"Yeah, we're cool" she said.

"Great!" I said. "Because I actually bought TWO legs of lamb, and I can toss the second one in now without worrying about you messing it up!"

Lemme tell you, getting hit with a raw leg of lamb is just about as painful as getting hit with a charred one. I've gotta work on my bobbing-and-weaving skills if I'm gonna continue being the chef around here.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving/Chanukah everyone! Stop by if you'd like some lamb and turkey casserole.



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