Sunday Leg of Lamb with Mashed Potatoes and Lima Beans

By Elsey Hamersley

The only day we Hamersleys ate together was on Sundays, when my mother would make a roast, usually leg of lamb, with potatoes and frozen lima beans. She made mashed potatoes with no flavoring other than salt, milk, and butter. She also really loved frozen vegetables. Back in the 1950s, busy housewives all over North America were embracing the process.

There was an odd semblance of order to our Sunday meal. My father, my sister, and we boys would sit quietly for the anticipated feast. The meat was always slightly overdone— medium well—and to this day I like my lamb more than medium rare for this reason, I’m sure. To keep us quiet while he negotiated the job of carving, my father would cut the strings from the lamb, which were coated with fat and browned bits of the meat, and let us chew on them to try and keep the growing noise down.

We ate in our dining room at a beautiful old table that my brother still has. Elegant plates, glasses, silverware, and napkins were de rigueur. I’m certain this was my mother’s weekly attempt to civilize her bunch of uncouth hooligans. The dinner always ended with us bolting down ice cream and chocolate sauce, and then we made an escape across the road to play ball.

As is true of most chefs, Sunday is a day we savor with friends and family. We cook simply and without fuss and try to slow things down for one day.


serves: 6