The concept of muscle memory.
I never realized I could just buy a whole chicken and spend half an hour trussing it as many times possible, snipping the twine and using a new one to repeat the same movement until my hands remember how to do it, no thinking required. All this I never knew, until my chef-instructor suggested it.
Pretty much nothing is cast in stone these days when it comes to kitchen practices. There are many ways a roast meat can be tied. Having said that, it is always good to discover your way of doing it. If it seems difficult at first, know that it is your call to invest maybe 30 minutes of practice so that your eyes and hands will recognize the pattern and eventually internalize the movement. Ask yourself if it can be done faster if you change the orientation of the meat, or the spot where your twine is stationed.
My preferred way is to start from the right, probably because I am right-handed, so that my left index finger works as a hook while the thumb holds the twine down as my right hand slips the open end of the twine under the log of meat, and comes up to make the loop.
You can thank Mrs Branson, my former colleague in Singapore for requesting this. I have the following recipe to share, so that you can put your practice into... practice.
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 oz baby arugula
1 boneless leg of lamb (approximately 1.8 lbs)
Get two mini bowls: combine the salt and pepper in one, olive oil in the other. Chop the baby arugula roughly and set aside.
Lay the boneless leg of lamb - fat-side up - on the cutting board. Use a sharp knife to slice and trim off as much fat as you can. Trim away any silver skin you see. Now turn the meat over, with the grain of the meat running from left to right on the board. Identify the thicker part, then with the knife blade parallel to the board, gently slice to halve that thickness, allowing the meat to open up like an inner flap of a book cover. Aim to have the same thickness throughout the piece of meat.
Season the entire surface liberally with the salt and pepper, turn it over, do the same with the fat side, and turn it back again. Top the whole surface with the arugula, and roll the meat up, away from you. The grain of the meat should run along the length of the roll (imagine a log of wood).
Truss the rolled meat firmly but not overly tight, as long as it will hold its shape. Rub the olive oil all over and once again, the salt and pepper. Place it on a roasting rack, put in the oven (preheated to 350°F) until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 140°F, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let the meat rest covered loosely under aluminum foil for at least 20 minutes.
Place the roast on the cutting board, cut and discard the twine, slice it to 1/2-inch pieces. Arrange the meat on a platter and keep warm at 145°F (covered with foil) until serving time.
1. The leg of lamb is easier to work with when it has come to room temperature so take it out from the fridge much earlier.
2. You can experiment with other forms of leaves besides arugula, such as baby spinach. I had even used finely sliced white button mushrooms, uncooked. Just remember the playground that is your kitchen and please get back to me when you have a positive outcome!
3. If you are without a roasting rack, place the meat on a flat layer on vegetables, such as chunks of onion, carrots, celery or Brussels sprouts. Just toss them first in salt, pepper and oil. If you fear that the vegetables may get stuck to the roasting tin, just take it out halfway, quickly remove the meat, toss the vegetables a bit scraping the bottom, put the meat back and resume.