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Spit Fire

June 22, 1995|DONNA DEANE | TIMES TEST KITCHEN DIRECTOR

"It's a traditional central European recipe: simple, mouth-watering, hearty and lots of it," says Budapest-born Tamas Vetro of this leg of lamb.

First, make deep two-inch cuts all over the surface of the lamb. Then roll up slivers of garlic in small pieces of bacon and insert into the slits. Now the lamb is ready to go on a spit. (Vetro uses an electric rotisserie, but it would also be great cooked over coals on a barbecue.)

There's no need to season with salt or baste with oil; the bacon provides both of these. All you need to do is brush the lamb occasionally so the melting bacon fat spreads over the whole surface. If the garlic and bacon start to pop out of the slits, just push them back in.

While the lamb roasts, you'll have plenty of time to bake peach cobbler and arrange an antipasto salad.

Vetro finds that when people smell the cooking lamb, they're usually so eager to eat it that he ends up carving the meat right from the spit. It's great served with good mustard and a hearty red wine.

MENU

Antipasto Salad

Anchovy Deviled Eggs

Leg of Lamb a la Tamas

Peach and Berry Cobbler

STAPLES

Mayonnaise

Dijon mustard

Lemon

Salt

Pepper

Capers

Oil

Celery

Olive oil

White wine vinegar

Orange

Italian herbs

Garlic

Sugar

Cornstarch

Slivered almonds

Flour

Baking powder

Butter

SHOPPING LIST

1 dozen eggs

1 (2-ounce) can anchovies

1 bunch parsley

1/2 pound button mushrooms

1 (15 1/2-ounce) jar pepperoncini in vinegar

1 cup mixed olives

1 jar sweet cherry peppers

2 cups Kalamata olives

1 (7-ounce) jar roasted sweet red peppers

1 (16-ounce) jar mild yellow pepper rings

1 red onion

3 tomatoes

6- to 7-pound leg of lamb

1/4 pound bacon

Lemon thyme

6 to 8 peaches

1/2 pint blueberries

1/2 pint half and half

GAME PLAN

1 day ahead: Prepare antipasto salad. Cook eggs for deviled eggs.

Morning of dinner: Make deviled egg filling, stuff eggs, cover and chill.

4 hours before dinner: Prepare lamb for roasting and put on spit to begin cooking. Prepare cobbler and bake.

30 minutes before dinner: Slice tomatoes and arrange on platter with antipasto salad and deviled eggs.

15 minutes before dinner: Remove lamb from spit to platter. Let lamb stand before slicing.

After entree: Heat cobbler slightly before serving.

ANCHOVY DEVILED EGGS

1 dozen hard-boiled eggs, peeled, chilled and cut in half lengthwise

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons minced anchovies

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons minced parsley

Salt, pepper

Capers

Remove yolks from eggs and mash in bowl. Stir in mayonnaise, anchovies, mustard, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

Place filling in pastry bag. Pipe filling into egg whites. Garnish with capers and remaining parsley. Cover and chill until serving time.

Makes 12 servings.

Each serving contains about:

120 calories; 290 mg sodium; 218 mg cholesterol; 9 grams fat; 3 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams protein; 0.01 gram fiber.

ANTIPASTO SALAD ORANGE HERB DRESSING

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

1/4 cup water

3 thin slices orange, quartered

1/4 cup chopped parsley

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon Italian herbs

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Stir together oil, vinegar, water, orange pieces, parsley, garlic, Italian herbs, salt and pepper in bowl.

Cover and let flavors blend until ready to use. Makes about 1 1/4 cups dressing.

SALAD

1 tablespoon oil

1/2 pound button mushrooms

1 (15 1/2-ounce) jar pepperoncini pickled in vinegar, drained

1 cup mixed olives, drained

2 cups Kalamata olives, drained

1 cup sweet cherry peppers, drained

1 (7-ounce) jar roasted sweet red peppers, drained and cut into 1-inch strips

1/2 (16-ounce) jar mild yellow pepper rings, drained

1 red onion, diced

2 stalks celery, sliced

3 medium tomatoes, sliced

Chopped parsley

Anchovy Deviled

Eggs, optional

Heat oil in wok or skillet. Add mushrooms. Saute until tender and lightly browned. Place cooked mushrooms in large bowl with pepperoncini, olives, Kalamata olives, cherry peppers, roasted sweet pepper strips, mild yellow pepper rings, diced red onion and celery. Toss to combine.

Pour Orange Herb Dressing over salad. Cover and chill until serving time. Flavor is best when left to stand overnight.

To make platter presentation, arrange tomato slices around edge of large platter and spoon salad onto center of platter. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Arrange Anchovy Deviled Eggs on tomatoes around platter.

Makes 12 servings.

Each serving, without Anchovy Deviled Eggs, contains about:

188 calories; 1,488 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 17 grams fat; 9 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 1.29 grams fiber.

LEG OF LAMB A LA TAMAS

6- to 7-pound leg of lamb

Garlic cloves, cut into slivers

1/4 pound bacon, cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces

Dijon mustard, optional

Make deep 2-inch cuts at regular intervals over entire surface of lamb. Roll 1 sliver garlic in 1 (2-inch) piece bacon and insert completely into lamb slit. Repeat until all bacon is used.

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