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Rec: Roast Leg of Lamb with White Beans – My very delicious Easter dinner

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Joined: Dec 11, 2005


Posted to Thread #10243 at 2:49 pm on Mar 29, 2008

I omitted the white beans and opted for Potato and Garlic Purée, and Belgian carrots sautéed with a little butter and parsley. I made the veal broth the day before Easter for the delicious sauce for the lamb.

My notes follow the recipes. Cover your keyboards and read on!

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Gigot D’Agneau À La Bretonne

Serves 6 to 8

Roast leg of lamb is the French cook’s pride, paraded for guests or for family Sunday lunch. To make the most of this expensive cut, a gigot is invariable cooked on the bone, with a clove of garlic tucked into the shank so it permeates the whole roast. The meat may be spiked with more garlic and herbs, and is basted with butter to ensure a golden finish. However, accompaniments vary from region to region. In the south, boulangère treatment, which calls for roasting the leg on a bed of sliced onion, potatoes, and herbs so they end brown and succulent with meat juices, is popular. When I lived on the northern coast in Normandy, my friend Françoise would roast piquant lamb from the salt marshes (prés salés) with little onions and baby potatoes, serving it with green beans from the garden.

Along the coast in Brittany, fresh or dried white kidney beans simmered with a bit of tomato are customary with lamb, always with plenty of garlic – a style known as à la bretonne. In the United States, great northern, navy, or pea beans can take their place.


2 cups/750 G dried white kidney beans
1 onion, studded with 4 whole cloves
1 bouquet garni, including 1 stalk celery (see page 370)
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons/30 G butter
2 onions, finely chopped
2 or 3 large tomatoes (about 1 pound/450 G total), peeled, seeded, and chopped (see page 372)
2 or 3 garlic cloves, chopped
½ cup/125 ML dry white wine
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


One 4 to 5-pound/about 2-KG leg of lamb
2 garlic cloves
1 bunch fresh thyme (about ¾ ounce/20 G)
2 tablespoons/30 G butter


½ cup/125 ML dry white wine
1-1/2 cups/375 ML veal or beef broth
(see page 373)

large roasting pan

To cook the beans, cover them generously with cold water and leave them to soak overnight. The next day, drain and put them in a large saucepan with the clove-studded onion, bouquet garni, and water to cover by at least 1 inch/2.5 cm. Cover, bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook until very tender, 1 to 3 hours, depending on the type and age of the beans. Add more hot water as it is absorbed to keep the beans covered in liquid, and season them with salt and pepper halfway through the cooking. At the end of cooking, they should be moist but not soupy. If they are sloppy, remove the lid 15 to 30 minutes before the end of cooking so the liquid evaporates. Discard the onion and bouquet garni.

While the beans are simmering, cook the tomatoes. Melt the butter in a small sauté pan or deep frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until soft but not browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, garlic, and white wine and season with salt and pepper. Simmer over medium heat, stirring often, until nearly all the moisture has evaporated, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir the tomatoes into the cooked beans, taste, and adjust the seasoning.

To roast the lamb, heat the oven to 450°F/230°C. Prepare the lamb by trimming off any skin and all but a thin layer of fat. Cut 1 garlic clove into sticks and push the other into the lamb shank. Poke holes in the meat with the point of a small knife, and insert the sticks of garlic with small sprigs of thyme. Set the leg in the roasting pan, top with butter, salt and pepper.

Sear the meat in the very hot oven until it starts to brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Lower the heat to 375°F/190°C and continue roasting, basting often, for 40 to 50 minutes, or more if you prefer your lamb well done. If the pan juices start to scorch during roasting, add a little broth.

Transfer the lamb to a carving board, cover it loosely with aluminum foil, and leave it to stand while you make the gravy. Reheat the beans if necessary. Stir in the parsley. For the gravy, discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the roasting pan, add the wine, and bring to a boil on the stove top, stirring to dissolve the pan juices. Add the broth and continue boiling until the gravy is reduced and concentrated, 5 to 8 minutes. Strain into a small saucepan, taste, and adjust the seasoning.

For serving, carve the lamb into thin slices or carve the meat at the table. Set the meat on a warmed large platter, spoon the beans around it, then spoon a little gravy over the meat and serve the rest separately.

The Country Cooking of France
Anne Willan
Chronicle Books

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My notes:

I really love this cookbook by Ann Willan. It’s filled with beautiful photos and includes informative comments and a history of many dishes.

I used 5.36 lbs. (got that, Scott in Scottsdale? lol) of New Zealand semi-boneless lamb leg that just so happened to be on sale. The fat was nominal so I left it alone. After making a few of the incisions, I “planted” the small sprigs of thyme and then jammed them in with the sticks of garlic. It looked as though I had planted a small forest on the surface of the lamb. I used kosher salt and coarse black pepper. I basted often using my long-handled silicone basting brush that does a great job. My cooking time was two hours and ten minutes for well done and juicy.

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