My Grandma, Nora ( nee Sullivan) Hickey, came to Chicago in 1912 from a one room cabin with a dirt floor outside of Caherciveen, County Kerry. Nora had seven sisters and a little brother; she was the oldest and the family threw an American Wake for her, before heading to Queenstown in Cork and trip over.
She landed at Castlegarden, NYC and immediately upon release from Immigration took a train to Chicago.
Here, she worked in the kitchen 'a great home' on Prairie for the rich Yanks run by an African American woman and several Mexican women as her assistants,
Here, Nora Sullivan learned from the hands of the daughter of a slave and escapees of the Revolutions in El Norte how to properly prepare food.
Unlike so many Irish families in America, the Hickeys ate more than boiled grey beef, mashed spud sand cabbage. We grew up with spices!
My Mom was a lousy cook until my Dad showed her how to make dishes other than burned pork and canned carrots.
The males in my family are exceptional cooks. I ain't too bad.
I have recently fallen- in -love -all over again with the Hamilton Beach slow-cooker (AKA crock pot) and have larded my thick bones with soups, ragouts, Lancashire Hot Pots, cassoulets, goulashes and slum gullions of every variety.
Craving goat tacos a la Birrieria Ocotlon on east 106th in South Chicago - I used lamb shoulder and chops. Not bad. I also got tired of chewing down on missed bones.
Leg of Lamb - big bones - was the key.
Per the male sense of opportunity, Spices, vegetables and herbs became intriguing dramas. The resultant dish comes from wonderlands and influences - Japan, Mexico, the Caribbean.
Here it is.
Celery chopped one cup
One large Vidalia Onion chopped
Two large Poblano peppers - cut lengthwise
One large red peppper - cut length wise
Two Lbs Leg of Lamb whole and bone-in trimmed of fat
1/2 cup of Caribbean Jerk Spice for lamb rub
1/4 cup of Kikoman Teriyaki sauce
Big bunch of Cilanto
Layer Celery Onions on the bottom of the Crock
Apply heavy doses of Caribbean Jerk rub to the trimmed leg of lamb and place over the celery and onions and then pour 1/4 cup of Teriyaki sauce over the lamb
Layer Poblano and Red Pepper strips over the lamb.
Turn Heat indicator on high and cooked covered for six hours - longer if you wish. Then remove the leg bone and joints from the lamb - the meat will shred and fall away.
The natural fats and water in the vegetables will make a superb broth. Chop and sprinkle cilantro over the individual portions.
Eat this with tortillas, flat breads, rice, coucous, or spuds. Here she is with about four hours of cooking.
I have not had any complaints and even a few lascivious notes from women in Morgan Park with whom I have shared portions and the recipe.
Me? I'm on it!