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Taste of Provence
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La Belle Cuisine
How to Treat Lamb
The New York Times, April 3, 2002
By Alain Ducasse
the sixth of eight columns by Alain Ducasse...
You often see chefs make dozens of little slashes into a leg of lamb and
force slivers of garlic into each one. It horrifies me. That's no way
to treat a
With lamb, garlic is essential, but it should perfume the meat.
the very essence of Provence, but you must play it off against herbs,
bit, not force
it on the lamb.
I take some crushed cloves and good olive oil and let the lamb bask in this
mixture for a couple of days. I do this regardless of whether I'm preparing
which you can find starting about now, or older spring lamb.
It's worth trying to find baby lamb, but you must also know how to cook it.
More mature lamb should be medium-rare so it remains tender. But naturally
baby lamb is better done medium. It's a pale meat, and my rule is
the meat, the more cooking it needs. That's why, in
and pork both require more cooking than lamb or beef. Once the
ready to roast I massage
it with thyme and savory. I know that
often paired with lamb
but you have to be careful because it's
in the roasting pan it can
burn. You can add a little at the
After browning the lamb I roast it on a bed of cut-up lamb trimmings to
concentrate the pan juices. When the lamb is done, it must rest for
an hour, and you can use that time to simmer the pan juices
to make a
simple sauce. (Use a wet basting brush to wipe down the
inside of your saucepan, so
can incorporate the tasty remnants that
collect as the
I like to serve scallions and fennel with the lamb, and, if I have them,
beans like favas. I blanch thick slices of the fennel, sauté
them with my lovely lamb jus and some Parmesan. They
to bake 20 minutes
or so, but make for a fragrant and flavorful
component to your dish.
all you need.
You find fennel most often used with fish but it should not be overlooked
I think it's absolutely superb, and so Provençal besides.”
Provençal Leg of Lamb with
Fennel and Scallions
Time: 2 1/2 hours, plus 2 days'
Yield: 8 servings
1 leg of lamb, preferably spring lamb,
boned, about 5 pounds
1 tablespoon paprika
3/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
7 large cloves garlic, smashed
1 bunch thyme or savory, or 1/2 of each
1 1/2 pounds lamb neck, in 2-inch chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large bulbs fresh fennel
2 bunches scallions, trimmed,
leaving 1-inch of green
1 cup chicken stock
1 sprig rosemary
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan.
1. Lightly score fat on lamb; rub with paprika. Place 1/2
cup olive oil
and 5 cloves garlic in bowl that will hold lamb snugly. Place
in bowl, turn to coat sides, and cover by placing sheet of plastic
directly on meat. Refrigerate 48 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove lamb from bowl. Discard the
Reserve 4 branches herbs. Use the rest to rub lamb all over,
inside and out.
Tie lamb at 1 1/2-inch intervals with butcher's cord.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil
in heavy ovenproof casserole that will hold
lamb comfortably. Brown leg of
lamb on top of stove on all sides.
from casserole. Place pieces of
lamb neck in casserole,
season with salt
and pepper, place leg of lamb on
top, place in the
oven, and roast 1 hour
for medium-rare for 5- to 5 1/2-pound
Add 15 minutes for 6- to
7-pound roast. Instant-read thermometer
inserted in center should
register 120 degrees F.
3. While lamb is roasting, trim fennel: cut a /2-inch slice off the bottom
of each bulb and cut off branches down to the bulb. Slice bulbs in
four vertically. Use wooden skewers or toothpicks to hold the
large pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch
3 minutes. Drain,
remove skewers and set aside.
4. Heat remaining oil in heavy skillet. Lightly brown fennel slices on
side. Place fennel slices, slightly overlapping, in shallow
Lightly brown scallions and place around fennel.
5. Remove lamb from oven and place in shallow baking pan tented
30 minutes or up to 1 hour. Transfer contents of cas-
Deglaze casserole with chicken stock and
add to saucepan.
Bring contents of
saucepan to a simmer. Peel
remaining garlic and add,
along with the reserved
and rosemary. Simmer gently 30
minutes. Strain, return to
saucepan, degrease and season with salt and
pepper. Spoon 4
sauce around fennel and scallions in
6. Turn oven to 400 degrees F. Pour any juices accumulated
saucepan. Remove foil from lamb and place
in oven in
Dust the fennel
and scallions with
bake 20 minutes.
7. Remove lamb from oven, snip cord, and cut in slices. Arrange
platter. Drizzle a little of the sauce over it. Remove
from oven and serve with lamb and the
on the side.
Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company
Used with permission.
More from Chef Alain Ducasse:
Asparagus Three Ways
Confiture de Vieux Garçon (The Old
Bachelor's Fruit Preserves)
Glazed Mango With Sour Cream Sorbet
and Black Pepper
Olive Mill Pasta
Steak with Style
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