Sunday – Main
gigot a la cuillère with boulangère potatoes
Gigot a la cuillère basically translates to a leg of lamb that can be served with a spoon, or seven-hour lamb as it’s normally called in the UK, is a fantastic way to cook a leg of lamb with minimum effort and maximum results and is perfect for that Easter Sunday lunch with friends. Even at the table there is no carving to do as the lamb will just fall off the bone and there will be no need for the discussion as to whether the meat is too rare or too well done.
All the preparation for the lamb is done in advance (7 hours before you eat) so all your time can be spent relaxing with your guests. It can even be cooked the day before and reheated so there’s even less work to do on the day.
‘À la boulangère’ traditionally in France means oven-baked and was originally things that were given to the local baker to be cooked slowly in his bread oven. I am lucky enough to still have Chateau du Chiron’s original bread oven that served the neighbourhood in times gone by and regularly use it to cook meats, casseroles and of course pizzas for guests in the summer.
Ingredients for 6 people
for the lamb
- 3kg leg of lamb
- 5 medium onions cut into quarters
- 6 or 7 whole, peeled garlic cloves
- 6 medium sized carrots cut into quarters length ways
- 300ml of dry white wine
- 300ml of lamb or veal stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
for the boulangère potatoes
- 2kg potatoes, King Edward or Desirée work very well for this recipe
- 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary or thyme which ever you prefer
- 2 thinly sliced onions
- 500ml chicken stock
- 100ml milk (milk isn’t usually used in this potato dish but I find it adds a bit more depth of flavour)
- 50g butter
Preheat your oven to 120 degrees
Season the leg of lamb with the salt and pepper and put into a large casserole with a lid or alternatively if you don’t have one big enough a roasting tin that can go on both the hob and in the oven.
You need to brown the leg on all sides over a medium heat in the casserole or roasting tin as during the oven roasting it will take on no more colour and will be very pale if this isn’t done. The leg may stick depending on your casserole or tin but just add a touch of olive oil if this does happen. Try to avoid having the heat too hot to stop lots of smoke being created.
When all of the sides are browned simply put all the other ingredients in the casserole and bring to the boil.
As soon as the stock and wine are boiling put the lid tightly on the casserole or cover the roasting tin with kitchen foil ensuring none of the steam can escape.
Place the casserole into the preheated oven. You should turn the leg a couple of times during the 7 hours to ensure it’s cooked evenly.
When the 7 hours is up the meat will be perfectly cooked and ready to serve. Remove the leg and vegetables from the stock and put on your serving platter. At this point increase the temperature of your oven to 200 degrees to finish cooking the potatoes.
Reduce the stock by putting the casserole on the hob and boiling for a few minutes until it has reduced by half.
The meat can, as in the French title of the dish, now be cut and served with a serving spoon.
The potatoes need to be peeled, thinly sliced, tossed together with the sliced onions and chopped herbs and placed in a large ovenproof dish. They will be served in this so something like an attractive lasagne dish rather than a metal roasting tin.
Heat together the stock, milk and butter then pour over the potatoes. Cover with kitchen foil and bake in the oven for 1 3/4 hours removing the foil after 1 hour to let the top become crispy and brown.