Recipes: 'How to Cook Everything, 10th Anniversary Edition'

These recipes appear in How to Cook Everything: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food (Completely Revised 10th Anniversary Edition) by Mark Bittman, (Wiley, 2008).

Roast Leg of Lamb, Four Ways
Makes: At least 6 servings
Time: About 1 1/2 hours, largely unattended


The main recipe is classic and basic, but I prefer the wonderfully strong-flavored variations. You can also use any of these with boned leg — just cut the cooking time by about half. Other cuts and meats you can use: thick cuts of London broil or flank steak.

One 5- to 7-pound leg of lamb, preferably at room temperature

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 pounds waxy red or white potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks

4 carrots, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks

2 onions, quartered

1/2 cup chicken, beef or vegetable stock or water, plus more as needed

Heat the oven to 425°F. Remove as much of the surface fat as possible from the lamb; rub the meat all over with salt and pepper. Put it in a roasting pan and scatter the vegetables around it; moisten with 1/2 cup of the stock.

Roast the lamb for 30 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350°F. Check the vegetables; if they're dry, add another 1/2 cup of liquid. After about 1 hour of roasting, check the internal temperature of the lamb with an instant-read thermometer. Continue to check every 10 minutes, adding a little more liquid if necessary. When it reaches 130°F for medium-rare (125°F for very rare) — check it in several places — it is done (total cooking time will be less than 1 1/2 hours). Let it rest for a few minutes before carving. Serve with the vegetables and pan juices.

Roast Leg of Lamb With Thyme and Orange:
Omit the vegetables and stock. Mix the salt and pepper with 3 tablespoons minced fresh thyme leaves or 1 1/2 tablespoons dried, 1 tablespoon minced garlic and 1 tablespoon minced or grated orange zest. Use a thin-bladed knife to cut some small slits in the lamb and push a bit of the herb mixture into them; rub the lamb all over with the remaining mixture. If you have time, let the lamb sit for an hour or more (refrigerate if it will be much longer). Roast as directed in Step 2.

Roast Leg of Lamb With Garlic and Coriander Seeds:
Include or omit the vegetables as you like. Mix the salt and pepper with 2 tablespoons crushed coriander seeds (put them in a plastic bag and pound gently with a rolling pin, rubber mallet or like object) and 1 teaspoon minced garlic. Use a thin-bladed knife to cut some small slits in the lamb and push a bit of the spices into them; rub the lamb all over with the remaining spices. If you have time, let the lamb sit for an hour or more (refrigerate if it will be much longer). Roast as directed in Step 2, omitting the liquid if you choose to omit the vegetables. This roast is better closer to medium than to rare — about 135°F.

Roast Leg of Lamb With Anchovies:
Include or omit the vegetables as you like. Mix the salt and pepper with 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves or 1 teaspoon dried, 1 tablespoon minced garlic, 3 or 4 minced anchovy fillets (optional) and 2 tablespoons olive or anchovy oil. Use a thin-bladed knife to cut some small slits in the lamb and push a bit of the spices into them; rub the lamb all over with the remaining spices. If you have time, let the lamb sit for an hour or more (refrigerate if it will be longer). Roast as directed in Step 2, omitting the liquid if you choose to omit the vegetables. When the meat is done, transfer it to a warm platter. Spoon or pour off most of the accumulated fat from the roasting pan and put it on 1 or 2 burners over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup red wine or stock and 1/2 cup water and cook, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release any brown bits until the liquid is reduced to 1/2 to 3/4 cup. Carve the lamb and serve with the sauce; garnish with sprigs of rosemary if you have them.

Bread Pudding
Makes: 6 servings
Time: About 1 hour, largely unattended


There are few ways to use leftover bread that equal this. You can vary the recipe any number of ways, starting with different kinds of bread (whole wheat, challah, rye or cinnamon raisin) or day-old pastry (Danish, cinnamon rolls or muffins). Cut them into large cubes; you'll need about 3 heaping cups. Feel free to add chocolate chips, nuts or chopped dried fruit. Top the finished pudding, if you like, with plain or flavored whipped cream or vanilla custard sauce.

3 cups milk

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

Pinch salt

8 slices white bread, preferably stale, crusts removed if they are very thick or dark

3 eggs

Heat the oven to 350°F. Over low heat in a small saucepan, warm the milk, butter, 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon, 1/2 cup of the sugar and the salt, just until the butter melts. Meanwhile, butter a 6-cup or 8-inch square baking dish (glass is nice) and cut or tear the bread into bite-sized pieces; they need not be too small.

Put the bread in the baking dish and pour the hot milk mixture over it. Let it sit for a few minutes, occasionally submerging any pieces of bread that rise to the top. Beat the eggs briefly and stir them into the bread mixture. Mix together the remaining sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the top. Set the baking dish in a larger baking pan and pour hot water in, to within about an inch of the top of the dish.

Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until a thin-bladed knife inserted in the center comes out clean or nearly so; the center should be just a little wobbly. Run under the broiler for about 30 seconds to brown the top a bit if you like. Serve warm or cold. This keeps well for 2 days or more, covered and refrigerated.

Chocolate Bread Pudding:
In Step 1, melt 2 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate with the butter and milk.

Apple-Raisin Bread Pudding:
In Step 2, add 1 cup peeled, cored, grated and drained apples and 1/4 cup or more raisins to the mixture along with the eggs.

Rum-Raisin Bread Pudding:
Add 1/4 cup dark rum and 1/2 cup raisins to the mixture along with the eggs.

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How to Cook Everything

2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food

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