Gigot à la boulangère

A French classic, a leg of lamb roasted with potatoes layered with onions and flavoured with herbs and garlic.

The name comes from the past, when few people owned ovens and families would take their prepared dishes for Sunday lunch to be cooked in the bread ovens of the village boulangerie.

The recipe is pretty straightforward , although there are a few regional variations.

1 leg of lamb
Floury potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 or 2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced, then sautéed in butter until soft
Water, white wine or chicken stock
2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut into slivers
5 or 6 anchovy fillets
Thyme, salt and pepper

First you need to preheat the oven to 180C (gas mark 6) and prepare the meat.

You can bone the lamb but it tastes better if cooked on the bone. You need to make slits all over the meat and push slivers of garlic down into the meat. I like to add some anchovy fillets with the garlic, anchovies go well with lamb but you can leave these out. Then, place the meat in a large roasting dish that you have rubbed with olive oil.

Then put the onions and potatoes around the lamb, add the water, wine or stock (I used white wine this time) so that the potatoes are half submerged and add the thyme and some salt and pepper and drizzle more olive oil over the top.

I like my lamb quite well done compared to French tastes so I tend to give the dish about an hour covered in foil, which helps the potatoes soften and then give it about 30-45 minutes uncovered so that the potatoes colour on top and the skin of the meat crisps up. The potatoes will absorb the wine, so you may need to add some additional stock or water to stop them drying out and sticking to the pan.

The classic accompaniment with this is flageolet beans or haricots blancs, I prefer the flageolets myself and some carrots cooked with butter are nice too.

You want a nice red wine with this dish, French ideally, and we had a fantastic 2009 Crozes Hermitage from Sainsburys Taste The Difference range. This wine was recommended in Fiona Beckett’s wine column in The Guardian before Christmas and it is a cracking wine for Sunday roasts, especially lamb which goes well with Syrah-based wines.

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