Major Dags: Volume 2 (feat. Bean Hole Beans & Lamb Pinwheel Roast)

Welcome back to the segment on this blog that documents my “oopsie daisies”.  These are the meals that I thought would make great posts, and in the end they were either a complete failure or I forgot to take pictures.  You know, major dags.

I should quickly address my inconsistent blogging patterns lately.  Lotsa travel and not a lot of cooking recently.  In addition, I have a bit of a creativity block these days; when I am home for a weekend I stare into my freezer of crazy crap and cant think of anything to make.  So, once again, I will put out the call for requests.  If you read this blog regularly and you’ve wanted to see me attempt a difficult dish, please add the suggestion to the comments on this post.  I have a freezer full of all parts of cow, lamb, and pig along with some rabbit, pheasant, and venison.  Give me some ideas!  I don’t ask for much (aside from you patiently reading this crap and telling me how much you love it), so help me out please.

Anyhoo, this post will focus on two well intended failures: Bean Hole Beans and a Lamb Pinwheel Roast.

Bean Hole Beans

Last year on our camping trip in Maine I resumed my love affair with cooking things under the ground by attempting bean hole beans.  Relatively simple concept: mix all your baked bean ingredients in a big pot, stick the pot in a hole in the ground and build a fire on top.  In 18-24 hours, you should have baked beans.  Should have.

I started out by digging a small hole inside of our fire pit area and starting a small fire in the base of it that I intended to let burn down to a thick bed of embers.  The key adjective for the hole and the fire is “small”.

I know, I know, that's not a very deep hole.  But, I was missing both Mooman's shovel and Mooman so the digging was slow going and complaint-heavy.  Once I got to about the depth of the pot I gave it a good enough nod and walked away

I know, I know, that’s not a very deep hole.  But, I was missing both Mooman’s shovel and Mooman’s shoveling ability so the digging was slow going and complaint-heavy.  Once I got to about the depth of the pot I gave it a good-nuff nod and walked away

With the fire burning down, I started preparing the beans for cooking.  First step was to lay slices of salt pork in the bottom of a cast iron pot I stole from under my coworkers desk.

Dear Joe, when you asked me whether you could cook eggs in this freebie from a supplier, I knew that you weren't going to give it the life it deserved.  Not to mention that you still haven't noticed the it is gone and it has been 11 months

Dear Joe, when you asked me whether you could cook eggs in this freebie cast iron pot from a supplier, I knew that you weren’t going to give it the life it deserved.  Not to mention that 11 months have elapsed and you still haven’t noticed it is gone

On top of the pork I poured in a few pounds of pre-soaked beans and a mixture of onions, chopped salt pork, garlic, mustard, sugar, vinegar, maple syrup, salt, and pepper.

Anyone who has read the Momere's Baked Beans post knows these ingredients anywhere.  However, this turned out so sh*tty that I didn't want her name attached to them, so lets just pretend this is some crappy allrecipes.com recipe

Anyone who has read the Momere’s Baked Beans post recognizes these signature ingredients.  However, this turned out so sh*tty that I didn’t want her name attached to the final product, so lets just pretend this is some crappy allrecipes.com recipe

I gently stirred in about 6 cups of water trying to mix everything together without disrupting the bottom layer of salt pork.  Not my strong point since I generally only know one method of stirring which is to scrape everything off the bottom and stir until it looks like a whirlpool.  But I was careful, and it looked relatively familiar at the end.

I think this is best done in a back yard since this contained about 7 more ingredients than should be featured in a camping dish.  Maple syrup and mosquito ridden campground definitely don't go well together

I think this is best done in a backyard since this contained about 7 more ingredients than should be featured in a camping dish.  Maple syrup and mosquito ridden campgrounds definitely don’t go well together, plus I complained about my sticky hands until people got sick of hearing about them and went to bed

I wrapped the top with two layers of tin foil, then nested the heavy lid on before doing another wrap of foil over the top.  I was planning to completely cover this thing with sandy dirt, and nothing would suck more than even a tiny bit getting inside and ruining the batch.  Once I felt it was well sealed, I nestled it into the hole on top of the glowing embers from the fire.

Steamers and butter cooking on the grate, 'course.  How great is Maine, right?

Steamers, vegetable butter ball, and drawn butter cooking on the grate, ‘course.  How great is Maine?!?!?

Once the pot was well situated, I covered it up with a couple shovel-fulls of dirt and ashg from the surrounding fire.

I was disturbingly anxious about whether these $8 worth of ingredients would be a success.  In hindsight I had to admit I need to start taking some of these cooking missions a little less serious

I was disturbingly anxious about whether these $8 worth of ingredients would be a success.  In hindsight I have to admit I need to start taking some of these cooking missions a little less seriously.  Also, that shovel is 7 years old, I have no idea why it still has a label on it

Once the pot was fully covered with earth/ash, we built another small fire on top and got a good bed of embers in place for the the cold night.  Followed that with another fire in the morning, more embers, off to the beach for a full day and back to the fire to uncover and remove the beans. Not nearly as difficult as the hogs head because it was buried shallower and had a handle.

This oven mitt had a real tough weekend but we still use it despite black burned marks from the fire.  I think that is mostly becuase I am incapable of throwing anything out that I still see a little life left in

This Le Creuset oven mitt had a real tough weekend but we still use it despite black burned marks from the fire.  I know that was a bit of a brand name drop, but I just wanted to reiterate/clarify/recognize that despite some steps in this process looking wilderness-y, I was just a suburbanite playing camping

With cameras ready and a nervous expression on my face, I peeled the foil away and removed the lid to discover… that it hadn’t cooked.  Maybe it cooked a little bit but not much, and certainly not enough to eat.  I was crushed.

Looked no different.  I was crushed and basically wouldn't speak to anyone for about fifteen minutes.  I am positive I made things uncomfortable and unpleasant for those around me, which is when Janet came in handy for a "Heyyyyy!!  Look at Janet! she is sitting and not doing anything and stuff! Awwww"  Forgot to mention Janet came camping

Looked no different.  I don’t think I spoke to anyone for about fifteen minutes.  I am positive I made things uncomfortable and unpleasant for those around me, which is when Janet came in handy for a distracting “Heyyyyy!! Look at Janet! she is sitting and not doing anything and stuff! Awwww”  Forgot to mention Janet came camping

I have a pretty good idea what I did wrong (of course I am a know it all even when I am wrong).  I am sure that there was supposed to be a consistent fire on top, but given that it was cooking for 18 hours+ I had some concerns on overdoing it and the same strategy worked fine for the hogs head three ears earlier.  I also think I needed a deeper hole with more embers that had burned for longer than the batch I used.  The hole itself wasn’t warm enough to start since it needed to almost preheat like an oven.

I need to take another crack at this and get my vengence.  On myself, I guess.  Sometime soon.  On to the next major dag.

Lamb Pinwheel Roast

I can’t remember the exact occasion for this one, mainly because I don’t date my photos well, but I think it might have been Mommy Ryan’s birthday.  I also think Tim was being bossy/cranky about what he wanted to eat because it was pre-ordained that we would be having a butterfly leg of lamb and deviled eggs.  Weirdo.

I thought a great idea with the leg of lamb would be to make a pinwheel roast, almost like a lamb porchetta.  Except this one would be stuffed with all of the awesome flavors Mommy Ryan used to pack into her lamb dishes.  Namely, Dijon mustard, rosemary, garlic, and lots of salt.  Decent idea in principle, but you know I will be bungling this somewhere along the way.  Lets start with the lamb.

Looks pretty identical to any deboned piece of meat shown on this blog previously.  Most similar to the duck from the turducken I think

Looks pretty identical to any deboned piece of meat shown on this blog previously.  Most similar to the duck from the turducken I think, but without the weird snorkel thing from that shot

My goal was to make some small slices in the meat so that it would be approximately the same thickness throughout and also spread out as flat as possible.  With that done, I started working on the filling.  Three key ingredients: rosemary, (green) onion, and garlic.

Yeah, it's been a while but that pile of raw garlic doesn't look any smaller.  Not sure exactly how I thought this was the appropriate balance.  Looks like a crap ton of rosemary too, actually

Yeah, it’s been a while but that pile of raw garlic doesn’t look any smaller.  Not sure exactly how I thought this was the appropriate balance.  Looks like a crap ton of rosemary too, actually

The onions, rosemary, and garlic went into a bowl with cubed staled bread, a couple tablespoons of Dijon mustard and mayonnaise and lots of salt and pepper.  The goal was to create a wet stuffing that would flavor the lamb from the inside out, but also mimic the lamb flavors we grew up with.

I have to admit that since it's been awhile, I totally had no idea what that green blob is in the center.  Upon further review, it is a blob of mint jelly which joined the party along with some additional brown sugar as well.  It's all coming back to me now

I have to admit that since it’s been awhile, I totally had no idea what that green blob was in the center.  Upon further review, it is a blob of mint jelly which joined the party along with some additional brown sugar as well.  It’s all coming back, coming back to me now.  Shout out to my girl Celine!

The stuffing was pungent, but I felt like I needed that to stand up to the strong flavor of lamb and there was a lot of meat.  Using the same process I used with the turducken, I pressed as much of the stuffing as I could into the lamb in an even layer.

Midday cooking in Tim's kitchen is actually great for fotos,  It's a hell hole at night though.  Lighting-wise.  I feel like I am writing a scathing Trip Advisor review or something, but it really is terrible for taking pitcures usually

Midday cooking in Tim’s kitchen is actually great for fotos, It’s a hell hole at night though.  Lighting-wise.  I feel like I am writing a scathing Trip Advisor review or something, but it really is terrible for taking pictures usually

I attempted to roll the lamb up porchetta style and was mildly successful, but the real feat was that I actually tied it up without the whole thing falling apart.  I am assuming Tim didn’t help but probably criticized my technique.  Friggin’ jerk, I’ll show him.

The bundled package headed into the fridge for a few hours.

Again, am I on Rhee Drummond's blog or something?  Why does it feel like this is a hipster, back to nature setting?  I swear this is the same place I took blurry photos of Yuengling and dental floss-stitched smoked hog stomach

Again, am I on Rhee Drummond’s blog or something?  Where did all of this natural light come from?  I swear this is the same place I took blurry photos of Yuengling and dental floss-stitched smoked hog stomach a few months earlier

And here’s where it went off the rails.  I was obsessed with having a crispy outside on the lamb and it was a beautiful day, so I thought I could cook it slow-ish on the grill at Brother John’s.  And when I get an idea in my head it’s tough to steer me away, so onto John’s grill it went.

I should have stopped when he told me there were hot and cold spot on the grill.  I should have swallowed my pride and preheated the oven.  I shoulda

I should have stopped when he told me there were hot and cold spot on the grill.  I should have swallowed my pride and preheated the oven.  I shoulda…

This one ended up as a bit of a debacle in the cooking process.  In the first five minutes on the grill, one part of the lamb had burned while the other end of it looked like no heat had been applied.  I rolled it around on the grill a bit to keep it from burning but that led to less trapped heat (due to opening the grill constantly) and less cooking through.  When it was finally in danger of charring too much for edibility, I had to put it in the oven for 20-30 minutes.  Which didn’t make a damned bit of difference.  The stuffing was barely warmed and the inside of the lamb was rare instead of lightly cooked all the way through.  A mess and a nightmare on the stomach due to raw lamb an garlic in the mix.  Happy birthday Mommy Ryan!

Send in your suggestions!  I desperately need them.

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