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Roast Leg of Lamb with Herbes de Provence and Potatoes

French lambs come primarily from the area northwest of Bordeaux, where they graze on salt marshes, and also from Provence, where they graze on wild herbs. In Provence, the story is told that in the old days, well-seasoned legs of lamb were placed on beds of potatoes and onions and cooked in the village baker's oven once the bread had been baked that day. The juices of the lamb flavor the vegetables, which stay moist beneath the lamb, but form a crisp crust elsewhere. Recommended wine pairing: Syrah or Syrah blend.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 1/2 lb. baking potatoes, very thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 lb. large yellow onions, very thinly sliced
  • 3 cups beef stock or broth
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. herbes de Provence
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 bone-in leg of lamb, 5 1/2 to 6 lb.
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 375°F. Coat a roasting pan with the butter.

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the potatoes, onions and 1 1/2 cups of the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the potatoes are soft, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes and onions to the prepared roasting pan. Pour the cooking liquid over the top, transfer the pan to the oven and roast for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the herbes de Provence, salt and pepper. Rub the lamb all over with the olive oil and then with the herb mixture. Using a sharp knife, make 20 to 25 slits, each about 1 inch deep, all over the meat. Insert the garlic slivers into the slits.

Place the lamb on top of the roasted potatoes and onions. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat, away from the bone, registers 125 to 130°F for medium-rare or 135 to 140°F for medium, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. If the potatoes get too dry during cooking, ladle some of the remaining stock into the pan. Remove the pan from the oven and turn the oven off. Transfer the lamb to a carving board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Return the pan to the oven to keep the vegetables warm.

Cut the lamb across the grain into thin slices. Arrange on a platter with the potatoes and onions. Serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of French Cooking, by Georgeanne Brennan & Sarah Putnam Clegg (Oxmoor House, 2009).