We cook the books
by Sarah Alcock
Being a big fan of the Sunday lunch, Roast immediately jumped out at me. It's the new book from the super-successful restaurant of the same name in Borough Market, London, with head chef Marcus Verberne. When you think about Borough market, you think fabulous ingredients, and this book certainly makes use of them. Having looked through the book, it has a lovely feel of eating off the land, there are some interesting stories about where their meat and produce comes from, so it's a bit more than just a cookery book, you feel like you have access to the inner workings of the Roast mantra.
I was attracted to lots of recipes...
Duck with blood orange sauce; Gamekeeper's terrine; the pork cutlets, for example. I soon realised, though, that these recipes are for the more experienced cook with a well-equipped kitchen, or a person with access to a great farmers' market as some of the ingredients are seasonal and unusual, so watch out for that. A game butcher would help, too. I think the book would definitely suit someone with a passion for cooking who wants to improve their skills and impress their friends.
Good book for experts
The recipes are sometimes vague in certain areasand the complex ones no good for a beginner. Reading them, I felt you had to have an instinct for cooking but, as Marcus says in his introduction, the recipes are only a guideline and he encourages you to play around. Saying that, there is a great section at the back for 'basics' – the cocktails, desserts and cakes look wonderful.
I initially chose the duck recipe but realised blood oranges aren't in season, and I didn't have the right dishes. The Lancashire hotpot better suited my kitchen and skills. The dish took pretty much all of Sunday to cook because I made the lamb stock from scratch as the recipe said it made all the difference.
My homemade lamb stock...
Once the stock was ready, the rest was pretty simple and after almost two hours it was done. I served it up with some extra carrots and leeks, and a glass of ale. I had a great sense of achievement at the end, and there were clean plates all round!
The finished hotpot!
- FOR THE LAMB STOCK (1.5-2 litres)
- 3kg lamb spinal bones, chopped into pieces
- 1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- ½ leek, white part only, roughly chopped
- 3 celery sticks, roughly chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 10 black peppercorns
- 1 tsp sea salt
- FOR THE HOTPOT:
- 2kg lamb neck fillet, fat trimmed and cut into 5cm pieces, and the neck bones
- 100g plain flour
- 100g butter
- 3 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp chopped rosemary leaves
- vegetable oil, for frying
- 1kg large potatoes (Maris Piper or King Edward work well), peeled and sliced into 2mm discs
- 700ml hot lamb stock (see below)
- salt and freshly milled black pepper
- FIRST MAKE THE LAMB STOCK:
- Place all the ingredients into a saucepan and pour in enough cold water just to cover – if you add too much water, you will dilute the stock.
- Bring to the stock to the boil, gently simmer for 2 hours, skimming the surface regularly and topping up with a little cold water from time to time, just enough to keep the bones covered.
- Place the pan just slightly to one side of the hob – all the fat and impurities that rise to the surface will collect on the cooler side of the pan and can be skimmed off easily with a ladle.
- After 2 hours, turn off the heat and allow the stock to rest for about 20 minutes so any impurities will drop to the bottom. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve and discard the bones. Allow to cool before putting in the fridge.
- As the stock chills, any fat that is left will solidify on the surface. This can be lifted off and you should be left with 1½-2 litres of flavoursome stock. It will keep in the fridge for 5-6 days but can be batch frozen – use within three months.
- NOW MAKE THE HOTPOT:
- Preheat your oven to 200°C, fan 180°C, gas 6.
- Season the lamb neck with salt and pepper and place it into a large plastic bag (without holes). Add the flour and, holding the bag closed at the top, give the lamb a good shake to coat it with the flour.
- Remove the lamb from the bag of flour and put it in a shallow ovenproof dish.
- Melt 50g of the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat and cook the onions and rosemary for about 4-5 minutes until soft and translucent but not coloured. Season with salt and pepper, then scatter over the lamb in a layer.
- Place the potatoes in a large bowl. Melt the remaining butter in the frying pan and toss it with the potatoes, coating each slice and seasoning with salt as you go.
- Layer the potatoes over the onions, saving the neatest slices for the top layer. Slowly pour in the hot lamb stock to just below the top layer of potatoes.
- Cover the dish with foil and bake on the middle shelf of your oven for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 45 minutes or so, until the potatoes are crisp and golden. By this stage the meat will be tender and ready to eat.
- Serve with pickled red cabbage.
Coat the meat with the flour in a plastic bag, so simple!