With a week to go until Mothering Sunday we wanted to share a mouth watering recipe, from our friend Valentine Warner. Pot leg of lamb with white wine & vegetables is the perfect dish for the whole family and a real treat for your mum. You have a week to source the delicious ingredients, this really is an uncomplicated dish which will bring joy to the dinner table and hopefully a smile to your mum’s face too. We would love to hear from you on our Facebook page if you cook this next weekend.
So often joints of meat are automatically roasted just because they are joints, with little or no thought of poaching them instead. Gently bubbling a leg of lamb in a pot, surrounded by vegetables, produces a very clean-feeling meal, bathed in a delightful liquor and tasting delicately of the sum parts. Since this dish is so uncomplicated and honest in its style, I like to carve the meat with my large penknife while finishing off a pre-lunch pastis.
a half leg of lamb (about 1.3kg)
flaked sea salt
3 tablespoons light olive oil
1 garlic bulb
3 sprigs of rosemary
6 banana shallots
3 celery sticks
2 medium fennel bulbs
12 baby turnips
6 medium carrots, scrubbed
2 sprigs of thyme
2 large bay leaves
650ml Mâcon, or other dry
2 tablespoons chopped tarragon
and flat-leaf parsley (optional)
French bread or boiled
Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/Gas 6. Salt the lamb generously all over. Heat the oil in a large, flameproof casserole, getting it nice and hot. Cut the whole bulb of garlic through the middle horizontally. (Try to keep both pieces in tact so you don’t have to chase lots of pieces around the pot when frying.) Lower the garlic into the casserole, cut-side down, and fry gently until dark golden. Take the garlic out and lower in the lamb – if the oil is hot enough, it should sizzle immediately – then add the rosemary. Really take time to brown the lamb properly all over, as this will add a greater depth of flavour to the sauce. If the rosemary begins to singe, this is quite alright, but don’t burn it.
While the meat colours, peel the shallots, taking great care to keep them whole by cutting only the whiskers off the root end. De-string the celery by snapping the wide end slightly up from the bottom; pull it away from you and the string should come away with the small piece of flesh. Chop the celery sticks into thirds. Cut off any unsightly or damaged areas of the fennel and quarter, leaving any little bit of green feather at the top. Trim the turnips, leaving each one with a tiny green top. Trim the carrots, leaving a small green tuft and the whisker on the bottom. Tie the thyme sprigs up in the bay leaves with a little kitchen string. Place the vegetables and garlic around the lamb, pop in the bouquet garni with the peppercorns and pour over the white wine, followed by the water.
Bring the liquid up to a gentle simmer, place the lid on the casserole and transfer it to the oven. Cook the lamb for 1–1π hours, by which time it should be nicely pink near the bone. Remove the lamb from the pot and leave to stand for 10 minutes or so covered by foil and a tea towel before carving.
Serve the meat surrounded by the vegetables with a good bowl of the juice nearby to pour over. A scattering of finely chopped tarragon and parsley over the top would be a good idea. Excellent crispy chewy French bread or smallish boiled waxy potatoes go nicely with this, and pokey Dijon mustard is a necessity.