Ficelle, a la [fee-SEL]: This is the French term for cooking food by allowing it to dangle from a string (la ficelle) in front of a fire. A technique often associated with leg of lamb, cooking a la ficelle is more work than cooking the meat in an oven—it should be basted regularly and carefully tended to ensure all sides are evenly cooked but not overcooked and dried out. The technique is valuable because the meat picks up extra flavor from the fire and it’s also a pleasure to behold a leg of lamb or a pheasant cooking slowly in front of a fire.
Our friends Pam and Bill hosted an annual dinner for a small group of friends and Bill, an intrepid cook, used this method of roasting meats by the fire--a leg of lamb, a pheasant, and a chicken. I chose this element today because of the festive nature of the cooking, a method of adding flavor to the meat that also includes everyone gathered in the process of the cooking.
Happy holidays to all--I hope they are bountiful and filled with good food and family and friends.