Gigot D’Agneau pour Paques (Easter Leg of Lamb)

This is a super Salt Marsh Lamb recipe with fantastic ingredients and essentially so simple. Remember salt-marsh lamb is young and should have very little fat. If your joint has lots of visible fat then you trim the excess because you are cooking with olive oil anyway. A big leg (or two) for lots of people might be better boned. It’s much easier to ask your butcher to do this but make sure they put the bone back in the joint for full flavour.

The asparagus is central to this dish – the fresher the better. The best way to tell how far back to trim is to feel down each spear till it becomes ‘woody’ then snap it off just before. Be careful not to overcook your ‘asparagus, they taste great at any point in my opinion but this recipe enjoys them being slightly firm.

Potatoes: even though the recipe calls for small new potatoes the French always peel them. The French generally prefer not to eat potato skins but if you want to leave them on than that’s fine as well.

Truffles: There is really no substitute for truffles and they are ridiculously expensive. In these austere times we use Ceps from our woods when we can but the truffles are decidedly optional. For Very Special Dinners only.

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Ingredients

Serves 6

  • 1 leg of lamb – approx 2 kilos (Try and find salt marsh lamb for that extra flavour)
  • 15 medium asparagus spears
  • 1 raw truffle about 50g * (optional – ours are local but still pricey)
  • 3 good sprigs of thyme finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 4 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs – as fine as you can make them
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 50ml olive oil
  • 1.5kg small new potatoes
  • 60g clarified butter **
  • 6 unpeeled garlic cloves
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/ 425F/Gas 7
  • Peel the asparagus with a potato peeler and cut of the ends to leave the tips and as much of the stalk as you can. If the stalks are very long, cut them in half. Cook in boiling salted water for about 7 minutes until just cooked. The asparagus should be still firm but tender. Refresh in cold water, drain, place on a plate and cover with a damp cloth.
  • Now prepare the truffles: Place in a bowl of cold water and brush gently. Pare them thinly with a potato peeler only if the skin seems a little tough. Remove from the bowl and slice them as thinly as possible. Put the truffles into a clean dry basin and cover with clingfilm.
  • Mix together the thyme, parsley, breadcrumbs and chopped garlic. Set an empty roasting pan over a high heat for 2 minutes. Brush the lamb with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and place into the hot roasting pan.
  • Put the lamb immediately into the preheated oven.
  • After 10 minutes, turn the lamb over.
  • As soon as the lamb is in the oven, scrape or peel the potatoes. If the potatoes are big, halve or quarter them lengthways. Rinse in cold water and dry. Heat the clarified butter in a frying pan. Put in the potatoes and cook over a high heat for ten minutes until pale golden. Take them from the pan and put to one side.
  • After the lamb has been cooking for 25 minutes, remove from the oven and add the potatoes into the roasting pan with the lamb. Add the unpeeled garlic cloves to the potatoes and season lightly. Sprinkle the lamb with half the seasoned breadcrumb mixture and leave to cook for a further 10 minutes making 35 minutes in all. Now turn the lamb over and sprinkle with the rest of the breadcrumbs. Cook for another 20 minutes. Stir the truffle slivers into the potatoes with a wooden spatula and add 3 tablespoons cold water. Cook for another 10 minutes (Total cooking time so far 70 minutes). Remove the lamb from the roasting pan. Wrap it in foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/170°fan assisted/350°F/Gas mark 4. Add the asparagus to the potatoes, truffles and garlic and return the pan to the oven for 10 minutes. NB: If you are using preserved truffles, return the roasting dish to the oven for 5 minutes. Then remove and add the preserved truffles. Cook for another 5 minutes.

Jus – if you would like more sauce then put a glass of red wine into the roasting tin, heat and stir to dissolve all of the brownings, reduce to taste and thicken with a little cornflower if needed.

When ready, slice the leg of lamb and place on a large serving platter. Arrange the mixture of vegetables around the edge. Serve at once.

* If fresh truffles are not available, use the best quality preserved truffles you can find and add them to the potatoes only 5 minutes before you finish cooking them.

** how to clarify butter – Put the butter into a heavy saucepan over a low heat. Gently melt. Skim off all the froth from the surface. You will then see a clear yellow layer on top of a milky layer. Carefully pour the clear fat into a bowl or Pyrex jug, leaving the milky residue in the pan. Discard the milky residue or add it to soups. To obtain 60g of clarified butter you will need about approximately 100g of butter to start with.

Bon Appetite 🙂