Comfort food | Buzz Blog

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Comfort food

Posted By on August 11, 2009, 11:45 AM

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When I lived in Argentina, I used to grill half a lamb, or a piglet – head removed -- over charcoal for five hours for Christmas or New Year’s Eve.---

I’d marinate the animal in red wine, rosemary, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper, the night before. At 4pm I’d stack some kindling around newspaper, light the latter, and build a mound of coal around it. I’d keep four mounds of ash-hot charcoal under the thickest parts of the lamb’s body and every half an hour feed more coals from an adjacent fire.

It was a gorgeous process, the smoke and smell of the cooking meat rising around me as I watched the beast drip fat through the bars to the coals below, my company a glass of Malbec or Merlot.

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This Sunday I returned to that spectacle, accompanying a friend, Amir Haskic, as he prepared and spit-roasted a year-old lamb for five hours. His is a more complex process than mine. He fixed the lamb tightly with wire and buttressing forks to a pole, which he then plugged into a cog-driven motor that gently turned it over the fire. Haskic learned to spit-roast animals as a child in the woods of former Yugoslavia. Back then, though, he had to hand-crank it for hours on end.

Once the meat was closing to falling from the bone, Haskic took apart the carcass and served butter-tender slabs of lamb to the guests. For me the day’s highlight was rubbing bread over the beast as it turned on the spit. This was fat-soaked manna from heaven, or bread and dripping as my parents called it when I was a child in England.

Haskic’s motto is “Simple is always best.” When I bit down on the fat-drenched bread I had to agree.

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