So I’ve been away for a fair while to celebrate my birthday in the relative freedom of a relaxed lockdown. So we headed to Whitstable in Kent for three weekends and two weeks to celebrate with good food, fine wine, long runs and with friends popping down from London for a break. The second of those guests were Jeremy and Jarek.
I’ve known these two for a few years but through the misery of lockdown and the lifeline of Zoom I’ve gotten to know them really well during our weekly cocktail catch-up. You know you’re in the company of like-minded souls when you are among those who can drink their body weight in booze and not need medical attention.
This is a classic French dish that will get you all the requisite oohs and aahs from the table and should serve at least six…. Or if like us, four hungry, slightly tipsy adults.
The joy of this dish is that all the faff is in the preparation and not the actual cooking so you are free to be the gorgeous host(ess) that you know you are.
Music to listen to while preparing this dish: ‘Queen of Hearts’ by Dave Edmunds
- 2.5 – 3kg leg of lamb
- 5 cloves of garlic each cut into four slivers
- Big bunch rosemary
- 6 large potatoes thinly sliced (I did mine in semi-circles for presentation)
- 4 onions thinly sliced
- 25g butter
- 500ml warm chicken stock
- Dripping (beef or lamb)
- Salt and pepper
- You’re going to put your lamb straight on to the rack in the oven so as it roasts the juices drip into the potatoes cooking underneath in a dish on the shelf below. Set up your oven so this is possible. See the image at the bottom of this page for how I set up the oven.
- Set the oven to 200° fan.
- Prick the lamb all over with a sharp knife and into the pockets you’ve made stuff in a sliver of garlic and some of the rosemary. At the end you should have a leg of lamb that is evenly studded with rosemary and garlic.
- Rub the joint with a thin layer of dripping. Use your hands and make sure it is even and thin. This is really to help crisp up the lamb and for flavour in your potatoes.
- Grease your roasting tin with half the butter – I used my trusty cast iron paella pan for this as I want the potatoes to go straight from oven to table.
- Layer the potatoes and onions in your dish, seasoning each layer as you go. Start and end with a potato layer taking care in the presentation of the final layer.
- Dot the remaining butter on the top layer of spuds and pour over the stock and press the potatoes lightly down ensuring the top layer gets a dunking in the liquid.
- Place the potatoes on the lower shelf in the oven and your lamb directly above it on the top shelf. Make sure you get the placement just right so the lamb juices drip into the potatoes.
- Roast for 90 mins – the only attention you have to pay is every half an hour to press the potatoes lightly into the liquid.
- After 90 mins take both dishes out the oven and let them rest for 15 – 20 mins.
Serve with a local Barnsole Red Reserve 2014 – it’s a smashing British red that has aged really well. There’s only a few bottles made and even fewer left so snap them up while you can.