Aunt Bee’s Mayberry cookbook, 246pp.
by Ken Beck and Jim Clark, recipes edited by Julie M. Pitkin
Rutledge Hill Press, Tennessee, 1991
Cooking on page 132
Remember the ‘Andy Griffith Show‘? Remember Aunt Bee? How could you forget? It ran for eight seasons in the 1960s, and we all grew to know and love the cast of quirky characters.
Andy and Opie lived with their spinster aunt, Bee. She was a fine country woman who cooked up hearty vittles for her two ‘boys’ and anyone in Mayberry who dropped in at meal time. So it’s fitting that there’s an Aunt Bee cookbook.
My cousin-in-law, Wayne, bought his wife, my cousin Jean, this great book in an airport when he used to travel a lot for work.
We visited Jean and Wayne in Minnesota recently and I pounced on this, thumbing immediately to page 32. It introduced Ellie Walker, Mayberry’s pharmacist (played by actress Elinor Donahue), but there was no recipe. So I went on to page 132 and found a fine version of a roast leg of lamb. It was contributed by a Patsy Curtis of Charlotte, Tennessee.
This recipe is also a tribute to Andy Griffith who died early in July 2012. RIP Andy.
Roast leg of lamb (Andy’s favorite dish)
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 to 3 pounds potatoes, peeled and thinly slices
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
2 large onions, very thinly sliced
5 medium tomatoes, cored and sliver horizontally
2/3 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup olive oil
1 6 to 7-pound leg of lamb, trimmed of all fat
Rub a large 16 x 10 x 2-inch gratin dish with garlic.
Layer the potatoes in the dish with salt, pepper and thyme. Strew on a little garlic. Place the onions and tomatoes on the potatoes, and season with salt pepper and thyme. Add the white wine and oil.
Season the lamb with oil, salt, pepper thyme and garlic. Set on a rack over the vegetables and place the lamb on the rack. Roast uncovered for about 1 hour and 30 minutes to 2 hours, or until the vegetables are tender and the meat registers 130°F on an internal thermometer. To serve, carve the lamb into thin slices and put on a warm plate. Arrange the gratin around the lamb.
Serves 8 to 10.
How it played out
The only challenge with this recipe was finding a darn leg of lamb. I go through this every time I come to the USA. Why don’t people in America eat lamb?
We went to three or four butchers—all prophets of doom regarding the likelihood that we would find a decent/any leg of lamb. We drove all over the southeast part of the state and finally found a lovely New Zealand one at a Sam’s outlet. And it was only about $7 a pound.
Jean and I proceeded to make the recipe more or less as written, using a mandolin to slice the potatoes. Our only major change was to substitute rosemary for thyme (you work with what you’ve got, and I loved being able to use Jean’s homegrown tomatoes for this recipe).
Aunt Bee came up with the goods. I couldn’t have picked a better recipe to make on our last night in Minnesota.
I come from a long line of lamb lovers, and Jean’s family loves it too. The mere mention of lamb was enough to get everyone to the table, even those grown-up kids who prefer not to be seen with their parents. 🙂