Assorted Christmas carols sung by the Smurfs. No, I'm not kidding.
I'm cranky. It's Christmas Eve on the Gregorian calendar. I'm tired and jetlagged. My parents are out of town, taking care of Gran, who's been unwell (recovering well now, thankfully). So even though I don't celebrate Christmas on the same date (I observe 7th Jan), it's still annoying to be alone and tired on Christmas Eve. Can anyone blame me for being cranky?
So, taking Maria's advice (that's Maria from the Sound of Music, not some Filipino/Mexican maidservant), I'm remembering my favourite things, and then I won't feel so sad!
First thing that comes to mind is holiday food, and I'm reminded that I haven't posted my recipe for Roast Lamb with Hungarian Pickle Sauce yet, so here it is!
ROAST LAMB WITH HUNGARIAN PICKLE SAUCE
Now, I won't tell you how to roast a leg of lamb - you know how to do that already. Just make sure to stud it with lots of garlic before roasting. Rosemary is optional (I don't use it for this dish). Once the leg of lamb is done, remove from roasting pan and place aside for 10 minutes to cool down and allow the meat fibres to relax.
Naturally, the roasting pan will be full of lovely juices and brown sticky bits of pure flavour. What you do is put in a cup of hot water or wine, and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spatula/spoon to loosen those brown bits, and basically ensuring all the juices and stuff gets dissolved into the wine/water. This is called deglazing
. Boil till reduced by half. Reserve the liquid (strain it if the brown bits are really large, but I personally don't bother).
Now, for the pickle sauce, you'll need:
8-10 pickles/gherkins (2"-3")
handful of fresh parsley (if available)
handful of fresh thyme (if available)
2 tablespoons of dijon mustard
juice of 1 lemon
the deglazed juices from earlier
Finely chop the pickles and give them a quick cooking in the saucepan with a good amount of butter. Once the pickles are cooked, add the deglazed pan juices from earlier, and the mustard. Heat till bubbling nicely, then add the thyme and parsley, the lemon juice, and the cream. The ideal colour is a very very very pale yellow-green, almost off-white. The mixture may be thickened with a little cornstarch.
The sauce is surprisingly good, as the tartness of the pickle and the lift given by the mustard go very well with the richness of the lamb. It also goes well with beef, as I discovered the next day, attempting to use up the abundant leftover sauce. I'd like to see how readers like the sauce - do give it a go and let me know!