What goes better with lamb than vibrant spices, such as coriander, cumin and curry? Here Lecerf presents one of his most popular dishes, a leg of lamb that is braised ever so slowly with a little stock in the oven until it is very tender.
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon coarsely ground white pepper
One 5-pound half leg of lamb, preferably from the hip section
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
Preheat the oven to 250°. In a small bowl, combine the garlic with the thyme, cumin seeds, rosemary, curry, salt, ground cumin and coriander, coriander seeds and white pepper. Cut 16 slits, each about 1 inch long by 1 inch deep and spaced 1 inch apart, in the meat. Rub the spice mixture all over the lamb, working it into the slits. Set aside any spice mixture that does not adhere.
In a medium flameproof casserole, heat the oil. Add the lamb and lightly brown it on all sides over moderate heat, about 2 minutes per side. Add the stock and any remaining spice mixture. Cover with a sheet of buttered wax paper and a lid. Braise the lamb in the oven for 3 hours, or until very tender. Check the meat from time to time and baste as necessary to prevent it from drying out.
Transfer the lamb to a carving board. Strain the cooking juices through a fine sieve; skim the fat. Transfer the juices to a gravy boat. Thickly slice the lamb and serve with the juices.
Notes: This was for New Year's Eve and I intended to attempt something ambitious with a leg of lamb that I had in the freezer. Which is why, when I saw this recipe on the Food & Wine site and then discovered that Eric Lecerf was a chef of some reknown (Michelin star, worked at Robuchon's kitchen at Jamin in Paris and then at Restaurant de l'Astor in the Paris Hotel Astor), I knew this was the one to try. And all the work was quite rewarding. I've become a big fan of braising lately, even if the prep takes some investment and the waiting takes some patience.
One of the other lovely things about braising meat is the leftovers. Even though I used a partial leg that was about half the size (and reduced the other ingredients accordingly), this provided me with enough that I made a followup risotto dish using the leftover juices as part of the stock and the leftover meat shredded into the dish as well. Very nice.Posted by Jennifer at January 7, 2007 3:51 PM | TrackBack