‘Roast Chicken’ comes to America


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‘Roast Chicken and Other Stories,’ the 1994 cookbook by Simon Hopkinson, founding chef of London’s Bibendum restaurant, has long been known in foodie circles as a great cookbook, but when the British magazine Waitrose Food Illustrated named it ‘the most useful cookbook of all time’ in 2005, it really took off.

Now there’s an American edition (Hyperion, $24.95). When a copy landed on my desk on Friday, I picked it up ... and had a hard time putting it down all weekend. The book is organized by Hopkinson’s favorite ingredients (Anchovy, Brains ... Eggplant, Lamb, Parmesan), and the writing is wonderful. For instance, Hopkinson writes that he loves Welsh lamb, adding: ‘I love mint sauce, too. And red currant jelly. And crisp fat from a shoulder (the best-tasting roast meat I can think of, save beef) that has been cooked for several hours, until the meat is of such melting texture that it can virtually be eaten with a spoon. Further pleasures from roasts such as this include squashing second helpings of roast potatoes into that half-congealing mixture of lamb fat, gravy, and mint sauce . . . don’t try and tell me you don’t know what I’m talking about.’


How can you not trust someone who can write that? Not to give away the ending, but in the veal chapter, Hopkinson writes, in a headnote to a recipe for roast shin (stinco in Italian) that the shin (shank to us Americans) is his favorite cut of veal ‘by far.’ Did I have to run out and buy one? Uh, yeah. I had the butcher prepare it the way Hopkinson suggests -- cutting through the anklebone, releasing the tendons and allowing the meat to shrink down the bone while roasting and ‘ ‘collect’ at one end.’ Then I followed his fabulous recipe for roast shin of veal, which you’ll find by clicking below on ‘Read more.’

-- Leslie Brenner

Photos by Leslie Brenner

Simon Hopkinson’s Roast Shin of Veal (adapted from ‘Roast Chicken and Other Stories’)

Have your butcher trim a veal shank and saw all the way through the bone at the thin end. Bring it home and make deep incisions all over with a small knife, and poke into them sliced garlic (4 cloves) and rosemary (two sprigs). Season the shank all over with salt and pepper, then rub a little flour all over. In a heavy-bottomed roasting pan (I used a shallow Le Creuset braiser), brown it all over in 6 tablespoons butter and 6 tablespoons olive oil on top of the stove. Transfer it to a 375-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes, basting occasionally. Pour out most of the fat, pour on some white wine, turn the oven down to 325 degrees, and roast for another 1 1/2 hours, ‘topping up with splashes of white wine now and again when needed.’ Transfer the shank to a serving dish and keep warm. Put the roaster back on a burner, ‘stir and scrape around to make sure that any gooey bits are lifted from the bottom.’ Taste for seasoning and add a little water if it’s too salty or strong. To carve, hold the ‘handle’ of the bone and ‘carve downward in chunks, rather than thin slices.’ Pour some of the deglazed sauce over the meat.