Jack’s First Birthday

A bit fuzzy in the morning but I’d been asked to help with the cooking so, no slacking. Wisely, Jack’s Mum and Dad managed to work in a grown-ups adult angle here so instead of having to make faces on iced milk arrowroot biscuits with jellybeans, I was given three legs of lamb.

I decided to do the butterflied shoulder… with them which would cut down on the roasting time and be easier on the barbie. If you saw me deboning the first leg you’d realise that butchers don’t deserve the verb “butcher”. The third one was better and I think the trick was to find the narrowest point of meat to bone and follow that, slicing and working the bone out. A bit of cutting here and there helps to flatten it out for a butterfly cut.

The marinade (olive oil; rosemary; parsley; thyme and garlic) and wrap in glad wrap is a great trick. The meat marinated for four hours before heading out to the barbie. Seared quickly on both sides, then each piece of meat put in a baking tray -kept off the bottom with some thick slices of potato and rosemary.

Problems started to appear. The barbie, even with the lid down just wasn’t getting hot enough. The top wasn’t roasting and, after 30 minutes, parts still weren’t close to being cooked. Half the problem was me opening the lid to have a look, but in a short cooking time you have to keep an eye on it and give it a basting with red wine and rosemary. I’d also explained to half a dozen people what I was doing and felt I’d built up some expectation that it wasn’t going to be a charred mess. The solution was to cut off the thicker bits and open them up; cook everything directly on the hotplate and then transfer what still needed cooking to the oven. Not smooth but it worked. Everything got a 15 minute rest under some foil. Meanwhile, no cornflour so just made a quick jus with the red wine, rosemary, beef stock and pan scrapings.

Butterflying the leg also has the advantage of being easy to carve. I carved up 2 legs in a couple of minutes ensuring it was perfectly rested, hot and ready to go. Could have picked a better time than half way through the second quarter of the Eagles game though. Bastards.

Doneness ranged from rare to medium, a little irregular, but offered a bit of choice. Other helpers came up with a whole ham, a heap of salads, roast vegetables, chicken drumsticks and 15 baguettes.

The lunch was great. Boozing continued, kids ran around in the vast yard. Young Jack proved highly amusing and I near as died with laughter as he got into the spirit of things with an I’m Jack Pollock, my paint is Heinz, and my face is my canvas routine.

Got a bit hungry later and discovered that the baguettes made by the Vietnamese baker in Kalgoorlie are excellent, and much later that the local pizza place does a good job with a crusty base and cheddar. Also lucky to have had the opportunity to try a bottle of 1990 Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet Shiraz. I was full of it by then and described it as “wrapped in a thin layer of water which dissolves to reveal sharp lasting flavours”. I was probably right but shouldn’t drink so much if that’s what I’m going to come up with.

All in all a fantastic day cheers to Jack for a top party and his folks Ash and Moo for giving him a hand – may it be the first of many.