Yes, I admit it. I was trying to show off my cooking skills. To a lady.
No, I’ve made a fine roast mutton before, several times in fact, but I was cooking either for me, or family. And that’s very different from cooking for a lady.
A certain nervousness creeps in.
Any nervous state – unfounded or otherwise – is very difficult to deal with, leave alone comprehend why. Especially considering roast mutton is the showpiece of my culinary repertoire.
Hang in there boy, you’ve done this before. I calm myself.
T -28 hours and counting.
Rush to the meat shop, select a fine leg of mutton. Ask the butcher to trim the fat. Get home.
T -24 hours and holding.
Fret over the ingredients and marinade. Confusion reigns. Should I go the tried and tested route or …
T -22 hours and counting.
Take control of the ship. Plan readies in my head. Relax.
T -18 hours and holding.
Panic. Realize am out of Worcestershire sauce. Rush to grocery store to buy. The brand I want (Lea & Perrins) is not available here. Rush to another store, remind myself I am not a headless chicken. Find it. Buy it. Heave a sigh of relief.
T -15 hours and counting.
The mutton leg journeys into the refrigerator. It sleeps quietly as the marinade goes to work, flavouring it up.
T -4 hours and holding.
Wake up leg of mutton from refrigerator, let it come to room temperature. In the meanwhile, the veggies get prepped.
T -3 hours and roasting.
I’ve done my bit. Now do yours. Shower and shave in the meanwhile.
T -30 minutes and counting.
Remove foil from dish, allow the meat to brown. Steal another appreciative look at it. Pat the oven for its effort.
T -0 and hoping.
Take it out of the oven. Looks good. Very good. Even lady friend agrees. Heave huge sigh of relief.
T +5 minutes and sighing.
Well done my boy. Even though I say so myself.
Mutton (goat) leg, 1 kg approx; Garlic, 30 cloves; Peppercorns, whole, a handful; Cinnamon, 10 pieces, each about an inch long; Star Anise, 6 pieces; Rosemary, fresh, 15 g; Potatoes, 4 large, halved; Onions, 4 large, halved; Worcestershire sauce, 4 tbsp; Salt.
First, make deep cuts in the meat. Then sprinkle salt all over generously and rub it into the meat lovingly with your hands. Then stuff the gaps with rosemary, garlic, cinnamon and star anise. Finally, pour the Worcestershire sauce and make sure every nook and cranny is soaking in it.
Place in refrigerator and forget about it for 12 hours.
Remove from refrigerator and let the meat come to room temperature. Place the potatoes and onions around the chunk of meat as artistically as you can. Cover with aluminium foil.
Put in the oven and let it roast away for 2 ½ hours at 240 C. Then remove the aluminium foil and let the top brown for 30 minutes and the juices reduce.