I’m dreaming of juicy leg of lamb, which brings me to this post. Sometimes the best gifts are the simple ones. No bells and whistles, glossy pages, or shiny anything. There is definitely beauty in simplicity. No, I didn’t get a leg of lamb for Christmas. I am talking about a cookbook with some delicious yet simple recipes.
The book was a gift from my friend Helene’s parents. The recipes are for a leisurely Sunday family dinner. The lovely book is laid out like a school notebook. The font imitates cursive script with charming pen and ink drawings. It’s a treasure.
OK, no need to keep you in suspense any longer. Herbed slow cooked leg of lamb is inspired by a recipe in the beautiful book. This is a hearty Provencal dish, perfect for a the cold winter nights. The leg of lamb is accompanied by cannellini beans seasoned a bit like the delicious cassoulet you can find on my blog.
Better than beef, in my opinion
I absolutely love leg of lamb. It’s a shame that it is not as popular in the U.S. I really don’t understand why. Two summers ago we traveled through Ireland. I certainly got my fill. I also noticed something interesting. The animals eat grass! Yes, grass, like nature intended them to. Needless to say, the taste is amazing. We discovered that sheep are marked with a color: red or blue. These markings allow for quick identification among farmers.
Herbs are key
Of great importance is the bouquet garni (garnished bouquet)– a mixture of herbs placed in a cheese cloth, tied with twine and dropped into the cooking pot. A bouquet garni is typical in French cooking. There is really no set recipe for a bouquet garni. The most common herbs used are: parsley, basil, rosemary, and tarragon.
The leg of lamb is made in a dutch oven. For the seasonings, “less is more” as the old adage goes. With just a few herbs, a wonderful and aromatic flavor is achieved.
Some lamb history
So, here’s a little bit of “lamb history” just for ewe, I mean you! According to my research, sheep were one of the first animals to be domesticated, roughly nine to eleven thousand years ago. Sheep proved to be a profitable animal to herd. It provided wool for clothing or trading, milk, cheese (as a by product of milk), and meat. Ancient civilizations including Sumerians, Babylonians, and the Persians relied on sheep for trade and self sufficiency. Sheep were instrumental in the development of the Greek civilization. Feta, anybody?
Herbed Slow Cooked Leg of Lamb
Slow cooked in a dutch oven for a tender and succulent herbed French style boneless leg of lamb.
- To make the cannellini beans: In a saucepan saute onion, ,bacon and garlic until translucent. Add the beans, vegetable stock, and tomato paste. Stir well and bring to a boil. Add the bay leaf and the rest of the ingredients.
- Cover and cook on low for about 1 hour.
- To make the lamb: Make multiple slits in the lamb and insert pieces of garlic inside the slits. sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- With butcher twine, tie the sprigs of thyme and parsley together; this will be your bouquet garni.
- Heat oil in a Dutch oven and quickly brown the lamb on all sides. Turn down the heat.
- Add the beef stock, and the rest of the ingredients.
- Turn down the heat to medium and cook for about one hour, basting regularly.
- Serve with the beans and a side salad.